Singer Vehicle design: the making of dls

The whole of Singer is a surprise for Rob and I, as we didn’t really expect for it to ever be a business,” says Mazen ‘Maz’ Fawaz, CEO, Singer Vehicle Design. It’s more than a business, though – Singer really is something of a phenomenon. Maz and Singer founder, Rob Dickinson, have been friends from the early days, when Dickinson assembled his first cars. “Rob and I were sort of born Porsche lunatics. It’s from birth or something,” says Maz.

The pair clearly work incredibly well together, Maz admitting: “Rob and I share a similar kind of OCD. Maybe in different areas of the car. But it’s a sort of lack of compromise. Rob’s not a guy to say, ‘Yeah, it’s good enough. Let’s send it out.’ He just doesn’t. And I’m very similar on the mechanical side of the car, how the car drives and how it sounds, who’s working on it. It’s very, very difficult to take shortcuts.”

It was Maz who steered Dickinson down the 964 route for the classic cars and who was instrumental in their development, as a friend. He eventually joined the company in 2017, becoming CEO in January 2020. 

That OCD manifests in Maz’s obsession with weight, it being apparent on Singer’s ‘classic’ reimagined vehicles already, but curiosity got the better of him. “I looked at, at the time, a kit of 25-year-old parts on the ground. And I went, ‘well if you look at all the primary components, some of them trailing arms, uprights, this is maybe where there’s some bulk. I just started to look at all the heavy components and started thinking if they could be approached with a different budget, and a different era’,” that being the gestation of the Dynamics and Lightweighting Study undertaken by Singer for their clients. Maz, wielding a clipboard and a shipping scale, weighed every component.

He was surprised: certainly some elements were heavy, but not overly so. “Nothing was heavy – almost nothing. Even the gearbox was surprisingly light. But then when you put it all on the list, and you said, all right, we can take 10% out of a lot of these, or 15%, that’s a lot of weight. It all of a sudden becomes a huge win,” he says.

The end result came at 2018’s Goodwood Festival of Speed and a prestigious spot on the lawn outside Goodwood House. The DLS, in the best tradition of show cars, had been finished merely hours before it was prominently positioned on its plinth, with a second development prototype running up the hill.

While the running car looked complete, Maz admits that it was the first kit of test components: “What you saw was kind of the first running body, that was obviously quite compromised. From then it was going to head into testing.”

To get the DLS to that point is no insignificant feat, Singer tapping into some serious expertise to achieve that. Friendships, inevitably, played their role: Maz’s friendship with journalist and racer Chris Harris saw him and Harris jump in a car and drive from a race meeting at the Nürburgring to Stuttgart. Maz comments: “We went there for a meeting, but before the meeting we had breakfast. And we’re just sitting in a standard German service hotel, just a couple of dudes that are having breakfast with Hans Mezger and Norbert Singer. It was just so strange, it was so surreal and odd to wake up in the morning, jet-lagged, and be there eating breakfast with them.”

To read our full behind-the-scenes look into the DLS, as well as our world exclusive reveal of Singer’s All-terrain Competition Study, pick up Total 911’s milestone 200th issue in store today, which is guest edited by Rob Dickinson, founder of Singer Vehicle Design. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device now.

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