Did you have a dream car when you attended high school? Mine was a Corvette. My buddies and I would frequently stop by the Chevrolet agency near Uni High on Santa Monica Boulevard and drool at the Corvettes. I finally purchased one in the 1970s when I had the financial wherewithal. Although Porsche was not one of my high school dream cars, I later became the owner of a Porsche 911. If you have a bit—actually more than a bit—of disposable income in these tough economic times, you can purchase your high school dream car right here in LA. Rob Dickinson, Singer Vehicle Design, is in love with the Porsche 911: the car driven by Steve McQueen in the 1971 film “Le Mans.” If you not only want a Porsche of the vintage and also want one that is showroom-new, visit Dickinson’s Los Ageles shop, Singer Vehicle Design. He dismantles the body of a Porsche built before 1994, strips it down, then rebuilds it with carbon-fiber body parts, modern suspension, and brakes. He tops off the package wit an air-cooled engine supplied by Cosworth LLC, a maker of Formula One race car motors.
Dickinson told the Wall Street Journal, “It’s a Porsche. It’s restored, done with authenticity, updated with as much new wisdom as we can have access to.” Before you knock on Dickinson’s door, be advised that the price tag of one of his 911s ranges from $190,000 to $300,000, depending on specifications and materials.
Singer Vehicle Design is one of a number of companies that build ultra-customized cars for wealthy car buffs. These low-volume—and mega price–car makers combine advanced computer design with parts from specialty makers to create replicas of 1932 Ford hot rods, mid-1960s Shelby Cobras, and 1970s BMW 2002s. In addition, they build vehicles that never were featured in a showroom, either in the U.S. or abroad.
Many of these vehicles dwell in a regulatory limbo; they are sold without engines or transmissions so they can be classified as a collection of vehicle parts to avoid federal crash-testing requirements. Currently, the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association, a trade group for the automotive performance-parts and customizing industry, is pressuring Congress to pass a proposal backed by Rep. John Campbell (R., Calif.) that would exempt companies that build fewer than 1,000 cars a year from some of the most costly federal safety and environmental rules. The carrot: Encouraging small car makers will create jobs.
Would you believe it? A diesel Porsche