Story by Zach Mayne
Photography courtesy Kaege Retro • www.kaege-retro.com
Over the years, Porsche has taken an evolutionary approach rather than a revolutionary one when it comes to improving the 911. As Wall Street Journal auto editor Dan Neil quipped about the model, Porsche’s approach is “perfect, rinse, repeat.” True words. However, despite many enthusiasts feeling that the 911 is just fine in whatever form it may take when it leaves Stuttgart, there are a heck of a lot of enthusiasts who see room for improvement. Furthermore, because of the huge stretch of time that air-cooled 911s were made- from 1963 all the way to 1997- with only minor changes to the chassis and even body design, there are also a lot of opportunities to mix and match a variety of different production model styles with a range of powerplants.
Which is why we have companies like Southern California-based Singer taking a relatively modern and rigid 964 chassis and reimagining and recreating it into a custom, carbon-fiber beauty that harkens back to the 911ST. The ST was a wide-body 911 variant intended for competition use, but the basic aesthetic- wide front and rear fender flares and an absence of a showy rear spoiler- has gone to become one of the most widely replicated designs in the early 911’s history.
In the small town of Stetten, Germany in the hills of the Rhineland-Palatinate -and appropriately enough not far from the famous Hockenheimring racetrack- is a small company that turns out a European take on the backdated 911s that are currently so popular. Roger Kaege and a small group of dedicated craftsman make a mere two of these creations a year. Unlike the 964-based Singer though, the Kaege RETRO is based on a later generation 993.
The bodywork is made of steel, with as many of the parts such as bumpers and spoilers made from light and strong carbon fiber, while the styling mimics that of a 1973 or older long-hood 911. There are beautiful details everywhere on the end product, from the exposed gas cap mounted on the left fender to the modern and far superior, custom RETRO-LED headlights, which are available as separate components for anyone who wants to fit them to their older 911.
The driveline is completely rebuilt close to stock, which is certainly no bad thing when you're talking about a 3.6-liter, air-cooled mill paired with a 6-speed gearbox. There are some minor changes made to the motor, including a custom dual tip muffler that adds more bark to the engine’s symphony. Performance is better than a stock 993 coupe thanks to a weight loss of 100-kilos paired with what Kaege claims is a 300-hp output.
Underneath the vintage bodywork is a suspension that has been upgraded with high quality KW Variant coilovers, allowing the suspension to be tailored to the driving experience desired. Brakes are stock 993. The larger wheels are styled to look like the original 5-spoke Fuchs design, but upgraded to a larger size that is manufactured in a 3-piece setup.
Inside, the RETRO is a combination of new and old. Though customer cars can be customized as much as the owner wants, the example that the company shows off has chrome bezels around the gauges and custom RS-style door panels. Seats are comprised of Recaro Sportsters that have been further customized with tartan centers that harken back to Porsche interior design work of the ‘70s. The airbag equipped steering wheel is a slightly odd fit, but the company does deserve credit for retaining as much of the safety equipment that the 993 came with.
All in all, the Kaege RETRO is definitely a thing of beauty. Chances are that we’ll never see one on these shores though. The company only produces two of these masterpieces a year, so it's unlikely we'll see many North American enthusiasts stepping up to the plate and ordering one. Still, it’s great to see a German take on customizing an air-cooled 911, an undertaking that has become popular around the entire world.