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Why this is the gold standard in custom Porsches
PORSCHE is no newcomer to the art of personalisation, even if the relevant division's latest moniker, Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur, has only just been minted. True to the stereotype of Germans calling a spade a spade, the sportscar maker's specialist division was known simply as Sonderwunschprogramm, or Special Wishes Programme, back in 1978.
When it became apparent there was a growing revenue stream from fulfilling customer dreams, especially money-no-object wishes, Sonderwunschprogramm evolved into Porsche Exclusive in 1986 during the mega-tuning boom of the 80s, before becoming Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur this year. The succession of name-changes reflects shifting tastes. Earlier requests were straightforward and involved mostly extra equipment or performance and handling enhancements, all of which are still offered by Porsche today.
However, Exclusive's repertoire now includes more flashy aesthetic requests that call upon an extensive colour palette that can be applied to body colour, stitching, panel trim and even the car key. Got a favourite pair of lucky boxers in red? You can now have a matching Boxster.
But with more than 600 options available, special colours are just the start. As many as 40 per cent of all 911s have been customised in one way or another.
What has petrolheads really salivating, however, is a new, limited-edition Porsche Exclusive Series showpiece, created to show off the artisanal skills of its craftspeople.
It's called the 911 Turbo S Exclusive, and like Porsche's earlier special edition models such as the 911 Sport Classic (2009) and 911 Speedster (2010), it is a complete car in its own right, and not a regular model with fancy paint.
Those earlier specials were limited to just 250 and 356 units respectively, and similarly, the 911 Turbo S Exclusive will be produced in a run of just 500.
Each one costs S$1,098,888 (excluding Certificate of Entitlement) here, or S$229,100 more than the price of a regular 911 Turbo S.
On the face of it, the new model looks like Porsche has just applied a lick of paint, colour-matched it throughout the car and added some badges, but you get a lot more than that for the extra outlay.
A closer look at the car reveals that the Exclusive department has applied the sort of attention to detail, hand-worked finishing and painstaking embellishment typically seen in the world of horology - which is fitting, because Porsche Design makes its own timepieces instead of outsourcing the work, and has crafted a matching watch for customers of the Turbo S Exclusive.
What appears to be racing stripes on the bonnet and roof are actually exposed strips of carbonfibre weave, but polished perfectly to match the sheen of the hand-applied paint-job.
Running your fingers from the gold to the carbonfibre portions, you feel how smooth and seamless the job is, because the craftsmen have applied multiple sanding steps to equalise the thickness between the paint's top-coat and the stripes' clear-coat and achieve a perfect transition. Likewise, the gold "Exclusive Series" script on the rear carbonfibre ram-air intake has been seamlessly applied before being hand-worked to achieve the same perfect finish.
If you're sensing a theme, it's because carbonfibre is applied liberally to emphasise the car's lightweight qualities.
The pop-up rear wing and cabin trim are both made of the strong, light material, and made with a twist: A gold-coloured metal thread was woven through all the carbon items to achieve a subtle effect that bathes the cabin in a golden glow. The craftsmen tell us, with some pride, that this is a first in the automotive world.
Even the wheels are made with a new technique. They are painted in layers of golden yellow metallic, before a coat of high-gloss black is applied, and then a laser is used to etch the black bits out to leave an eye-catching, gold-on-black effect.
Yet, an Exclusive Series also needs the speed to match its "show", so the car has an Exclusive Powerkit that increases horsepower to 607 horsepower (hp). That's a rise of just 27hp over a normal 911 Turbo S, but it's enough to make the Exclusive Series model one of the most powerful road-going 911s ever built.
That gives the Exclusive Series customer bragging rights, and no, you can't buy an ordinary Turbo S and have the Exclusive Powerkit retrofitted.
What's clear is that Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur has matured into an entity that can mix technology and craftsmanship to create new ways to make customer desires come true. The name, techniques and the scope of its work may be new, but Porsche's special wishes department is still true to its original mission.