dp Motorsport’s 1988 Turbo Cabriolet

ge is cruel to modified cars. While numerous car designs have stood the test of time, even improved over the years, whatever was in vogue on the custom car scene of the period typically becomes old hat or even laughable a few years later. Fifties and Sixties hot rods are notable ‘aged well’ exceptions, but when we consider some of the garish colours, huge plastic bodykits and neon lights that have adorned modified cars over the past 20 or 30 years, it’s hard to believe anyone, anywhere, actually once thought it was a good idea.

But not all modified cars are the same. What defines a successful aftermarket design or custom job is of course very subjective, and one can still find attractiveness or at least retro appeal in modified cars of any era: just look at anything designed by Zagato over the years. Then there is the reputation and history of the person or company performing said custom work. A 17-year-old Billy Benefits tacking a plastic rear wing on his Fiesta can’t really be compared to the likes of Ruf or Brabus, but fundamentally they do the same thing: modify the factory original according to their personal preference.

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Which brings us on to this dp Motorsport 911. Flatnose you say. Or maybe Slopenose, Slantnose, or Flachbau. Whatever you wish to call classic 911s without their traditional and instantly recognisable headlight humps, the look has always been a controversial one polarising opinion within the Porsche community. Yet it’s a body style that Porsche embraced for a number of its road-going 930 Turbos in the Eighties, but only after Ekkehard Zimmermann and his Design + Plastic (dp) company in Germany showed the way with its endurance racing 935-inspired DP935 offerings.

This example, a 1988 DP935 Turbo Cabriolet, is a rare beast indeed. A shameless embodiment of the Eighties with its bulbous flanks, giant rear wing and numerous louvres, it is certainly a style statement of its era. Pretty? No. But is it desirable for someone who remembers the Flatnose shape from Eighties Porsche showrooms; 935s dominating at the racetrack and even that atrociously watchable Michael Crawford Condorman film? Hell yes. And for certain aficionados – this car’s owner Justin Singer for one – it is among the most desirable Porsches money can buy.

“I’m in love with them,” the 40 year old from South Beach says. “They’re truly timeless, and in my opinion mine is one of the most beautiful Porsches in the world. I’ve craved a dp since I was a teenager, and when I’d visit my grandparents in Florida I’d stop in at the exotic car dealerships and see quite a few Slantnoses and dp Porsches, but I couldn’t afford their price at the time.”

If you’re unfamiliar with Germany’s dp Motorsport and its modified road cars, you may be more au fait with the part the Cologne-based specialist played in the racing arena. Ekkehard Zimmermann had built up years of quality design work on numerous vehicles before scoring the contract to design and build bodies for VW-powered formula cars in the early-Seventies.

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On the side he also produced aftermarket body parts for Porsche Carreras, soon attracting interest from Kremer Racing Cologne. In 1975 Zimmermann and dp produced the aerodynamic body for Kremer’s K1 endurance GT prototype, with the relationship reaching a high point a few years later when a dp-bodied Porsche 935 Kremer K3 won the 1979 Le Mans 24 Hours.

dp Motorsport doesn’t have a bad CV then, so it’s certainly no back street stick-on body kit manufacturer. Such quality comes at a price of course, and these DP935 offerings with customised bodies, fettled suspension and enhanced engines were the reserve of the super-wealthy enthusiast when new. “Mine is their DP935 II US version,” Justin says. “In 1988 the purchase price of the base Turbo Cabriolet from Porsche was $85,060 (USD), and after the full dp conversion it was priced at $116,367. This car’s original owner also spent another $30,000 or so after purchase modifying it.”

The first owner must have been doing rather well for himself back in 1988 then, duly handing over his dollars to Fred Opert Racing in New Jersey (one of the few authorised dp Motorsport importers) for a US-spec droptop 930 Turbo. This car will have left the Porsche factory and gone directly to dp Motorsport for its costly conversion, before setting sail for the East Coast of America for its new owner to modify it further.

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Flatnose experts may well be asking a question right now. Porsche had been selling its own factory Turbo Flatnose models (also known as the 930S) since 1987 in the United States, with a premium of around $30,000 over the standard 930. Why didn’t the owner just buy one of these instead? It was an official Porsche product, fully warranted and available at his local showroom for practically the same money as the DP935.

Justin says to those in the know the dp was by far the better car, and more exclusive than even the low number of Flatnoses created by Porsche. “The biggest difference when looking at a dp next to a stock Slantnose is the workmanship,” he says. “The Slantnose is just a standard 911 with a few bolted-on parts aside from the new Slantnose fenders, but the dp is one seamless body all the way around. There is no real comparison between the two in my mind, and Porsche only offered the Slantnose as an option after they saw dp had carved out a market for it.”

Happily, we can see Justin’s DP935 today as it must have looked in 1988. It is in flawless order, helped no doubt by the criminally low mileage of 17,000, working out at an average of just 700 miles per year over the course of its life. Its original keeper kept hold of it for 14 years, driving it sparingly it seems, before selling it to a pilot who was ordered by his wife to keep it at his private aeroplane hangar and not at home. “It was so fast she was scared of it,” Justin says, “and the pilot realised he had to sell it as he could only drive it by getting over to his hangar.”

Having been fascinated by tuned Porsches for years, namely the DP935s, Gemballas, Rufs, Kremers and Koenigs, Justin snapped up the low-mileage dp rarity in 2004 having waited years for the right car to come on the market. As scarce as DP935s are, this one held additional fascination as most examples were destined for track use and built on coupe bodies, not Turbo Cabriolets as here.

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“It’s the cream of the crop in my opinion; a museum piece that I cherish,” Justin says. “Adding to its rarity is its Venetian blue metallic paint; it’s a Porsche colour but repainted by dp. It’s the only metallic painted car I know of converted by dp, with all the others being flat reds, blacks, whites and silvers mainly.”

Justin’s enthusiasm for his DP935 is infectious, and understandable considering his passion for them from a young age. To those who witnessed the glorious 935s in their prime, dominating endurance racing, the idea of the same company who built the 1979 Le Mans-winning body for Kremer’s K3 selling road-going versions must have been irresistible to some. Especially as you could bring any 911 – SC, Carrera, Turbo, Targa or Convertible – for modification to dp for the Flatnose 935 treatment.

For your Deutschmarks the car would be given its 935-esque fibre glass body comprising the air dammed front spoiler; rear bumper; front body panels with flared arches, grilles and pop-up lights; rear body panels with flared arches and brake ventilation louvres; chunky dp Motorsport-embossed door sills; and an engine cover lid with huge integrated whaletail. As this body kit had its origins on the successful Kremer racers, you can assume the aerodynamic properties won’t be half bad either.

Justin explains that the US-spec dp Motorsport cars didn’t feature the European front spoiler with integrated headlights, turn signals and glass covers more akin to the 935 racers, while his car was also specified with Porsche’s original Flatnose bonnet. “Each car was made uniquely to its original owner’s request, so that’s why I’m without the dp hood,” Justin says. “I’d love one, though, so am looking out for a dp version all the time.”

From the dp workshop owners were also given a heavy duty oil cooler in the front of the car, a racier suspension kit with antiroll bars and a much wider footprint courtesy of 15-inch wheels in nine-inch width fore and colossal 13-inch width aft. A dp Motorsport centre console added a more bespoke touch to the interior, while buyers could option different leathers and velours for the cabin; uprated stereo equipment and a host of performance modifications for the engine. In other words, enthusiastic owners could easily drop a lot of cash on their dp Flatnose.

Back in 1988, when times were good, this Turbo Cabriolet’s first owner certainly dug deep. With the options he selected in Cologne and then the modifications immediately carried out in the United States this DP935 was and still is a formidable weapon. The 3.3-litre was tuned to around 450bhp with the help of a custom-built KKK K27 11.11 turbo, with Justin reporting very little lag thanks to its quick spooling nature. Higher performance cams from an SC were fitted, a competition exhaust system and manifold found their place, and on lifting the engine cover you’ll see the large black dp Motorsport intercooler.

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The modifying of a modified car continued further with coilover suspension using Bilstein RSR shocks and 928S4 front brake calipers. The owner certainly knew what he wanted, and as you’d well assume, it’s something of an animal to drive. With an LSD fitted and new (for the 1989 model year) five-speed G50/50 gearbox with hydraulic clutch in place, it’s something of a shame so few miles have been enjoyed in this Flatnose droptop funster.

In small doses seems to suffice for the car’s current owner, but the old magic is patently still there when it comes out to play on dry days. “Every time I get behind the wheel I’m short of breath and my hands shake,” Justin explains. “I do get scared to drive it, and being a Cabrio it doesn’t see the track. I’ve been known to scare the crap out of friends on the highway, though.”

Occupants are treated to a bit of Eighties flavour in the cabin, too. There’s dp Motorsport embossing for the leather steering wheel and floor mats, custom dp gauges with a boost meter, and the two-tone silver-grey and blue leather seats with piping are period perfect. Justin has also added a few individual touches of his own during his eight years of ownership, including a substantial stereo install by Autowerks in Northbrook, Illinois (where the car is often on display), while the current wheels are custom colour-coded Lindsey P3 17-inch wheels in slightly less dramatic 8.5-inch and 11.5-inch widths using original Porsche Fuchs as donors.

To see this DP935 from the rear, however, shows how aggressively fat the be-muscled rarity is. In fact, park it beside any normal classic Porsche 911 and the standard car, as timelessly beautiful as it is, looks a bit dull next to dp Motorsport’s effort. It gets you all a bit nostalgic for the Eighties, funny as that may sound.

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There are some substantial asking prices out there for genuine Porsche factory Flatnoses and DP935s, indicating there’s a strong enthusiast market for such rarities of the Porsche world. “There’s the stock camp who think anything other than the original Slantnose by Porsche is a bastard,” Justin explains. “But I know the dp has clear value over Porsche’s Flatnose as they really started the design for road-going 911s. What I have here I think is far superior to any stock Flatnose.”

There’s passion in Justin’s words and, regardless of what the mixed reception may be in the Porsche community towards the DP935 or Flatnoses in general, he knows he’s got one hell of a toy on his hands. Stylistically, some think the 935 shape should have stayed off the road cars and been left on the racers, but only the coldest of hearts couldn’t see some appeal to these unusual 911s that have achieved a cult following. And with this Turbo Cabriolet example, modified by dp and others in a ‘money’s no object’ manner, it is an ultimate expression of outrageous yet pleasing Eighties excess that now feels like a lifetime ago.

*the dp Motorpsorts DP935 can be found in issue 87 of Total 911. To purchase your copy, visit Imagine Shop: https://www.imagineshop.co.uk/magazines/total911.html

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