Even if you’re not a Porsche aficionado and can’t tell a Macan from a 911—if that’s you, why are you even reading this?—stuff like the 991-generation Porsche 911 Turbo S tend to separate themselves based on their aero modifications and performance. (In that model’s case, credit is twin-turbo 3.8-liter flat-six that belts out a cool 580 horsepower that’s routed to all four wheels.) So the tough part then, at least for the high-tax-bracket types that can afford to buy these rockets, is figuring out how make those wild sleds stand out even more.
Some people might go a simple route with, say, a funky vinyl wrap and fresh wheels, while others, like Eric Wong, choose to go way beyond over-the-counter bolt-ons and eye-searing color schemes. This 991 has been given the very exclusive Gemballa GTR 8XX Evo R treatment and is but one of 50 in existence across the globe. We’d say that’s a pretty good way to make a statement. Not familiar with Gemballa? The firm has been in the tuning business officially since 1981 and have earned a much-deserved reputation for churning out some of the most extreme (and expensive) conversions on various models from the likes of McLaren, Mercedes, BMW, and Ferrari, in addition to Porsche. Its unique take on these high-end vehicles maintains a healthy demand—at least among those who can afford them.
To perform the Porsche’s surgery, Wong reached out to DTM Autobody of Gardena, California, a group some of our sister publications like Super Street have worked with on several occasions—if you read SS, you’ve seen their handiwork. Essentially a do-it-all outfit, DTM can not only handle your basic insurance-claim fender bender, it can also source various OEM and performance parts, perform resprays and complete color changes, and has established itself as a force in the custom bodywork arena as well. How Wong found DTM is pretty simple: The shop has taken care of his Rolls Royce, McLaren, and other vehicles in the past.
Widebody conversions and fender flare add-ons have been all the rage for ages, but in the last five years specifically, both the Japanese and European markets have been flooded with new options almost monthly. Some are pretty good, and others are atrocious in their blatant ignorance of factory lines and design, whereby the same fender shapes and girth are applied to any vehicle whatsoever in a “one-size-fits-all” approach. In the case of Gemballa, though, the bulking up of the 991 is custom tailored, and strongly suggests factory special edition rather than universal mail-order bits and pieces. Of course, to get there, you can expect to pay for it, and for the exclusivity of a one-in-50 complete conversion.
What’s in the Box?
The full GTR 8XX package includes the frunk cover and front bumper; the fender flares and side skirts; and the rear bumper, diffuser, wing, and engine cover. The aero pieces are produced in carbon fiber, though the owner opted to paint much of the visible portions. From a few feet back, the rich black paintwork seems to cover every inch of the body, but step closer and the inner faces of the wing uprights and interior of the engine inlet expose their zig-zag secret.
That new wing towers over the car’s curvaceous rear and extends beyond the intakes on the factory decklid, while dive planes on the front fascia also speak to the car’s aerodynamic capabilities. The third brake light is just as it was, but it’s now joined by a glowing red “Gemballa” logo that sits between the taillights. Those lights sit just above the updated rear bumper with outlets poked through for the rounded finishers of Gemballa’s Sport exhaust system.
It’s Bulking—and Power—Season
The rear fender additions are two inches wider than Porsche originally made them, while the fronts each add 1.2 inches of girth. That creates enough room for GRS-F2 forged wheels in size 20×9.5 up front and 20×11.5 out back, all wrapped in sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires (265/35s in the front and 325/30s out back). And don’t forget the side skirts; they’re an easily overlooked but key component that allows the front and rear fender extensions to flow together seamlessly.
The additional downforce afforded by the menacing rear wing and the additional grip provided by the wider tire setup is as much a necessity as it is a styling cue. That’s because the already potent 991 Turbo S has been extensively upgraded via Gemballa’s performance package. The updates start inside the block with beefier rods; the flat-six also gets a compression decrease and ported heads with larger valves. The exhaust manifold is upgraded to accommodate upgraded turbos, and the car also exhales through high-flow catalytic converters and the aforementioned exhaust system. All of this makes the sort of difference you’d expect, with power figures jumping from the stock 580 horsepower to 818 at 7,050 rpm. Gemballa also remaps both the engine and the transmission to make sure it all works together harmoniously. All of that goodness is neatly packed away; other than the exhaust tips, there isn’t much to see under the factory plastic covers.
Not Too Much, Just Enough
Now back to that exterior makeover; reimagining the front end entirely might have pulled the design too far away from its iconic 911 roots. As such, the Gemballa adjustments include smoothing the inner edges of the left and right grille openings and angling the pillars that separate the top and bottom portions, while an integrated splitter aids in providing downforce and fills in a visual gap on the outboard sections of the original version. Of course, the scoops on the Gemballa frunk panel are a massive departure from the factory piece, but they provide visual balance against the aggressive rear wing.
As you likely know, black paint is difficult to apply perfectly and to care for afterward, and the owner put his trust in DTM to deliver paint and bodywork at a level that would justify the car’s expense. To put it mildly, the shop nailed it. Each factory panel and new carbon-fiber piece match perfectly, and there aren’t any flaws to be found. DTM describes the process as such:”We took the car apart to mockup all of the widebody pieces and then actually [soft] installed the parts to check for any misalignments or imperfections before drilling holes. You can only drill those holes once—there’s no room for error.”
Given they’re not a simple bolt-on affair, the new arches required cutting away some of the factory body in order to fit the more aggressive wheel and tire setup. DTM worked with Wong on deciding which parts would be painted and which would be have the exposed carbon look, then everything was then disassembled, properly painted, and reinstalled yet again to finish up the conversion. There were no shortcuts, even down to the hardware, which was specifically chosen for its black finish to blend in with the updates. How the owner maintains it from here is up to him, but we imagine a client with the sort of money needed to buy a 991 Turbo S and have it modified and fitted with an extremely limited body and powertrain conversion has people for that.
With all of the aggressive bits added to the exterior, you might expect the cabin to house a set of nonadjustable, rigid bucket racing seats, an aggressive cage, and stripped-down surfaces. In contrast, Gemballa kept things sporty and comfortable. From the red stitched, Alcantara dash cover that flows to the upper doors to the bright red leather touches, the cabin is livable but no less impressive than the outside.
The look and feel of Gemballa’s GTR 8XX Evo-R isn’t for everyone, and that’s exactly the point. The lengthy process of designing something so extreme isn’t easy, nor is the painstaking R&D required to ensure the quality lives up to an investment not every well-off enthusiast is inclined to make. Yet for those lucky few, the value in owning something exclusive and so well executed is worth every penny. In this case, we’d have to agree.
2019 Porsche 991 Turbo S Build Details
Engine: Gemballa-spec rods, reduced compression ratio, larger valves, ported head, turbo, turbo manifolds, pressure pipe, high-flow catalysts, sport exhaust, ECU and trans remapping
Power: 818 hp, 807 lb-ft of torque
Wheel & Tire: 20×11.5 rear, 20 x 9.5 front GRS-F2 forged wheels; 325/30 rear, 265/30 front Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2
Exterior: Gemballa front bumper, hood, fender extensions, side skirts, rear bumper, wing, engine cover
Interior: Gemballa leather and Alcantara door cards, seats; red stitched Alcantara dash and armrest