If you grew up in the Eighties and were asked to create a list of Porsche tuning specialists, the odds are high that DP Motorsport would be one of the names at the top of the pile.
The German manufacturing gurus, formed in 1973, are now entering their fifth decade of producing lightweight road-going Porsches, inspired by their own racing prowess.
Rewinding the clock 40 years, DP Motorsport was the vision of Ekkehard Zimmermann. After creating fibreglass bodywork for his racing friends (alongside his day job at Ford in Cologne), Zimmermann moved into the motorsport industry full-time, producing lightweight panels for the Kremer 911 2.8 RSR that debuted at Daytona in 1973.
The name ‘Design und Plastik’ is borne out of this experience. Zimmermann wanted a name that would be memorable and, most importantly, recognisable around the world; naming the company eponymously wouldn’t do the trick.
At the time plastic was a relatively modern material, aiding the image of the business. It also helps that when written in lower case, ‘DP’ reads the same if rotated through 180 degrees.
After the success of the Kremer RSR, DP Motorsport was contracted to continue producing designs and bodywork for the successful private equipé. In 1979, this resulted in one of the most fearsome Porsche 911s ever: Kremer Racing’s fire-breathing 935 K3.
The extreme aerodynamics came straight from Ekkehard’s pen, creating a car that dominated the 1979 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Klaus Ludwig predominantly at the wheel.
While this car has gone down in Porsche folklore, Patrick Zimmermann (Ekkehard’s son) claims that while “the most successful car was the K3, the most spectacular and best was its successor, the K4.”
“Unfortunately,” he continues, “these were replaced by the C-Series [Group C prototypes] after only one year.”
Even as early as the Kremer RSR involvement, Ekkehard could see room for improvement, both aerodynamically and constructions-wise, in the body panels of the road-going 911s.
While the racing successes dominated DP Motorsport’s headlines in the Seventies, a decade later it was road cars that were helping to carve out the DP name into legend.
Long before Porsche was even offering a slantnose through the Sonderwunsch programme, Zimmermann was working on a road-legal version of the 935 race cars that had accomplished so much in competition and created so much consumer interest.
In 1978 the DP 935 I was released, predating the monstrous K3. This marked the start of a long line of 935-inspired vehicles and, with DP playing such a large part in the success of 935s on the track, these road-going offerings from Overath were almost more official than the 930 SEs that rolled off Stuttgart’s production line in the mid-Eighties.
If DP 935 I was the original, the next development of the car – logically named DP 935 II – is viewed by Patrick as the ultimate DP Motorsport car. Indeed, this is the car that, visually, looked the most like a Group 5 racer.
While Porsche’s slantnose featured pop-up headlights, Zimmermann’s firm kept hold of the spots in the front bumper. Combined with its naturally low weight and highly tuned turbo engine, DP 935 II was truly a race-bred animal retrained for road use.
After the production of these iconic cars, the Nineties were much quieter for the company, and you would be forgiven for thinking that, as the new millennium heralded in the 21st century, DP Motorsport no longer existed.
However, in the words of Patrick, “We were always here. We just became a little smaller and concentrated on the local markets. Big conversions were no longer wanted.”
So if they never disappeared, what is DP Motorsport doing now? Predominantly working on classic-shelled cars, DP – now run day to day by Patrick – continues to create super low-weight Porsches for road and track use.
If the company’s profile was built on the back of their skill with fibreglass in the Seventies and Eighties, now their stunning body shells are produced in carbon fibre, though little has changed in their design.
Through continuing their original ethos and focusing on mass rather than aesthetics, Patrick believes that DP Motorsport is set apart from other 911 tuners and specialists.
“We produce all these lightweight parts in our company and improve them on a permanent basis,” he explains. Creation of these retro 911s with modern materials takes between 800 and 1,000 man hours of labour, “if you do it perfectly,” Patrick adds.
Time and effort are two attributes that DP Motorsport is not afraid of investing and, as anyone who has seen any of their creations in the flesh will validate, the results are staggeringly beautiful pieces of automotive engineering.
For a company that has shown such skill with the air-cooled generation of Porsche 911, their modern output is neither as large in numbers or reputation. This is because “today, with the 997 and 991, Porsche builds perfect cars such as the GT3 RS and GT2 RS. Hardly anyone needs a tuner for such cars.” Patrick’s statement is exemplified by the recent liquidations of both 9ff and Speedart.
DP Motorsport has found its niche and is successfully exploiting its expertise. Interest in the restoration and optimisation of classic 911s is growing all the time (as shown by Magnus Walker’s success in the USA), with Zimmermann’s firm both producing its own creations and turning customers’ visions into real-life carbon fibre and metal.
Their ‘Plastik’ may now be carbon-reinforced rather than glass, but their ‘Design’ continues to be rooted in the icons of the past. And for that, DP Motorsport is all the better heading into the future.
|Most expensive creation?||Turning a 962 race car into a road-legal vehicle in the early Nineties.|
|Most extreme creation?||The twin turbo 996 DP5, built in 2005 for racing around the Nordschleife.|
|Other interesting fact:||In the workshop, Ekkehard’s ‘last project’ is currently being built, complete with a 350bhp 3.5-litre flat six.|
|Telephone||022 04 / 7 10 67|