Built not bought: 996 Leichtbau

Ever since I was very young, I had an innate fascination with the world of motorsports. The desire to ‘go fast’ wasn’t something I simply wanted – it was a need that possessed every aspect of my life. Since earning my driver’s licence, I’ve been the proud owner of countless vehicles (seriously, I have trouble counting all of them).

Each one held a special place in my heart, but all of them pale in comparison to the sheer joy that I get out of this work of automotive art, which I have now owned for seven years.

I own a 1999 Porsche 996.1 in Guards red. The reasons I chose to go with a 996.1 are twofold: in my opinion the generation is the last of the no-nanny 911s, and second, the price for this particular example was right in the perfect range for me.

Being a racing driver and instructor, I like my cars basic yet visceral. This specific car caught my eye because of the colour – you don’t see too many bright-red Gen1 996s. Not only was the car aesthetically everything I could have hoped for, but right before I bought it the previous owner had a major service done and had all the maintenance records through the life of the car. This 996 is my first 911 and, in fact, my first Porsche.

I’ve always been a fan of the brand and had a few Audis and VWs, so the obvious next step in my automotive journey was a Porsche. From the very beginning, I was inspired by the 964 backdates as well as original, long-hood 911s. In fact, the front lip and black decklid on my 996 are design cues I took from older cars when modifying my own. Simple and tasteful with a slight motorsports feel, it’s an homage to the rich history and powerful influence that Porsche has had on the road since its founding.

My interior, as you’d expect from a car dubbed ‘lightweight’, is full-blown race car, though that was by no means my intention from the beginning. The modifications started immediately: two days after I bought the car I did a muffler delete, and a couple months later I went for coilover suspension, free-flow exhaust manifolds, a K&N Intake, half roll cage, HID conversion, plus a short shifter. Before I knew it, the car was taking on very much a race car feel, though coming from a racing background, it made me feel right at home. 

With those motorsport-inspired modifications taken care of, I went down the lightweight route: as one piece came out, followed by another, it started a flood of modifications all the while adding lightness, and soon enough I was practically living in my garage making endless adjustments to the car. Currently, my interior has just two racing seats, a short shifter, racing steering wheel, half roll cage, and climate control panel. That’s it!

Everything else from carpet to headliner is completely stripped out. The bucket seats and deep-dish motorsports steering wheel are the latest additions to my 911 to date. And, before you ask, the 911 has no radio or speakers, either – the only sound I need is that flat six screaming behind me. Now that I’ve reduced the weight of the car by around a hundred kilos…

Get the full, exclusive feature on AJ Severino’s 996 Leichtbau alongside 98 pages of high-end Porsche content, all delivered to your door as part of our lavish magazine dedicated only to the Porsche 911. You can also download a digital copy with high definition bonus galleries to any Apple or Android device.

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