To many Total 911 readers, the name ‘Nine Excellence’ should not be an unfamiliar one. After featuring the 950bhp 9e17 in issue 104, we exclusively broke the news last October that the West Sussex specialist’s 996 Turbo (now in 9eXX guise) had set a new vMax event record of 229.6mph.
We then revealed that the Turbo tuners were working on a 4.1-litre forced-induction 911 engine in issue 110.
At this point, you are probably presuming that Nine Excellence solely deal with Zuffenhausen’s turbocharged offerings. However, hiding in plain sight on an industrial estate, Ken Napier is geared up to offer a whole lot more.
Four years ago, the entire business was little more than a seed of an idea for Napier, who was then working in the IT industry. “I just got to that point where I wanted to do something different,” he explains.
So with Porsches having always been a passion, Nine Excellence was officially opened on 1 March 2011 after Napier had previously become unsatisfied with the level of service offered by another 911 specialist who he was working with on his first fast Turbo build.
With one eye on improving the level of customer service (“The fact that I didn’t have experience before in the Porsche world really was irrelevant; it is how you deal with customers, first and foremost”), Napier’s other focus was on the vMax event record, held at the time by renowned tuners 9ff at a speed of 222mph.
Rather than a simple exercise in ego boosting, though, Napier has used the high-speed runs to build an effective flagship off of which his business is promoted. “The tuning and performance-related stuff is only 30 per cent of our business,” Napier says nonchalantly.
“But it is there to basically build a brand, and that brand is 9E.” Nine Excellence’s plan is to expand this trademark by offering a range of 9E-branded products for your 911, from exhausts to turbo kits. “It’s going to become a lot bigger for us,” enthuses Ken.
Unlike vMax rivals 9ff, though, Napier has no intention of building a fully branded 9E 911. “People want a Porsche,” he explains. “Our plan is to provide our customers with a 9E car, which is still fundamentally a Porsche.” Their customers seem to agree, judging by the number of patrons who frequent Nine Excellence’s hangar-like unit.
Since opening three years ago, Nine Excellence can now count 700 names on its books, around 200 of which are for the company’s performance arm. These 911 owners come from all corners of the UK, as well as Europe, to take advantage of the technical know-how on offer in the West Sussex workshop.
However, that still leaves about 500 people for the business’s other services – something that many people don’t know exist, such is the success of the Turbo tuning.
Half of Nine Excellence’s trade is in the traditional service sector. In the space of just over three years, Napier’s company has garnered an enviable customer base, the majority remaining loyal to the Horley-based business.
“We have a very good retention rate, unless someone moves out the area: most of our customers are within a 40-mile radius,” explains Napier. After the disappointment that crept in when building his first fast 911 Turbo, customer satisfaction is something Ken likes to monitor closely, and he points to its transparency as a factor of Nine Excellence’s success in both its servicing and tuning departments.
“We have two types of customers,” Ken says. “The customer who will come in, drop the keys off, not want to be involved and come back later to pick the car up.
“Then we have the other customer, who wants to be involved with the project and wants to drop in unannounced to see how their car is progressing, so we have an open workshop policy. That’s something that I used to miss at other garages I used to use; I like to see how the project is progressing.”
The final 20 per cent of Nine Excellence’s trade is coming through restoration projects, a service that Napier is keen to showcase among the high profile Turbo-tuning side of the business.
“We’ve just bought another 964 deliberately to show that we could restore a car,” stresses Napier. Nine Excellence’s restorations are aided by the fact that they are partners in an off-site paint shop, allowing them to control the quality of their output.
The results are impressive, with the workshop currently home to a Sportomatic 911T. The car, imported from the United States, enjoys a brilliant new Polo red coat. Resplendent in its ruby tone, the classic 911 has also been fitted with a freshly built powerplant.
“As part of the restoration process, we often rebuild the engine,” Napier explains. “We build our engines in-house, both air and water cooled. It’s not just Turbo engines,” he stresses. It’s another string in an impressive bow, but it is hard to ignore the flagship side of the business.
“I think the Turbo will always be the car we are associated with, because there is so much demand for Turbo cars,” states Napier matter-of-factly, and it is not just the headline-grabbing 1,000bhp+ builds that are proving popular with customers.
“The package we sell the most of is the 9E38,” explains Napier. As a guide, 9E44 is Nine Excellence’s entrylevel kit, with the £10,000 9E38 best described as ‘lukewarm’ rather than ‘hot’.
Even on the simplest kits, Ken is keen to point out that Nine Excellence does more than just re-mapping (a term he is loath to use). “When we get a car in, it is treated in the same way, whether it is going to have a 9E40 or a 9E22,” he explains.
“Obviously, the lower that number, the more involved the project becomes: swapping turbos and things like this, but the principle is the same.
“While it doesn’t always take a week to carry out the work, as we guarantee the performance, we have to make sure that the car is performing correctly. We don’t offer a solution of just remapping; even in our base package there are different intercoolers.”
As you will have noticed, Nine Excellence doesn’t name its performance kits after the car’s brake horsepower figure or top speed. Instead, the number is a reference to the car’s time from 0-300kph.
Owner: Ken Napier
Location: Horley, Surrey, UK
Fastest car produced by Nine Excellence: 9eXX currently holds the vMax event record with a top speed of 229.6mph
Next Turbo project: A 4.1-litre engine has already been developed for 9eXX, with a second unit being built for a 997 Turbo. Plans are already in place for a 4.2-litre build.
Car most seen in the workshop: “964s right through to 997s. We get the occasional 991, which is mainly for aftermarket.”
Telephone: +44(0)1293 226 911
“It was a conscious decision at the start of the business,” says Napier. “We know approximately what horsepower figures a lot of our flagship cars run, but we work on the basis that we can give a customer a performance box, stick it in the car, they can go and hit the times that are the codification.”
Each car is tested at Bruntingthorpe to ensure that Nine Excellence’s claims are true, while Napier’s company also provides its own 12-month engine warranty as a show of faith in its handiwork.
The decision to use the 0-300kph time was taken with one eye on expansion into Europe, where it is “the performance measure,” according to Napier. While it may not have helped the company gain customers in its formative months, the decision now appears to be paying off.
Ken is in talks with a partner about opening a Porsche specialist in northern Europe, serving the Benelux regions with Nine Excellence’s range of services. If it comes to fruition, Nine Excellence will be on its way to becoming a truly international business.
If this peek behind the scenes at Nine Excellence has piqued your interest in Porsche 911 Turbos, make sure you check out the ’40 years of Turbo’ feature inside the latest issue of Total 911.