Singer Unveils Williams F1 Collaboration

15 November 2017 | by Michael Gooderham

Singer Vehicle Design, proprietors of ‘60s-style ‘reimagined’ Porsche 911s based on the 1989-94 type-964 Carrera, have unveiled the first of 75 limited-run cars created in collaboration with Williams Advanced Engineering, to be built at the latter's headquarters in Grove, UK.

The ‘Dynamics and Lightweighting Study’ (DLS) project is the result of a request by a particularly enthusiastic Singer client who wanted a more extreme take on the exquisitely detailed backdated 911s they create in Los Angeles. As well as working with their parts suppliers at Michelin, Brembo, BBS, etc., Singer worked closely with Williams Advanced Engineering, the Oxfordshire-based engineering consultancy wholly owned by the Williams Racing Formula 1 team.

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The result of two years of development (presented as a high-quality CAD model for now) is a car which is transparently aggressive compared to the aesthetically more restrained, balanced 911s Singer normally makes – yet, the details and finish keep it recognisable as one of their builds, still based around a worn-out 964 that needed a second life.

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While the design has had some input from Hollywood vehicle designer Daniel Simon, the carbonfibre aero kit comes from Williams, featuring taller air intakes in the lower front bumper to improve cooling, plus an exposed-carbon chin spoiler, side skirts and purposeful rear diffuser – all to generate the downforce needed to keep the car stable at high speeds.

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 At the rear, both downforce and cooling are improved further by a replacing the electronic pop-up spoiler with a fixed (and very tall) RS-tribute ducktail spoiler with integrated air intake. Intriguingly, the F1 wind tunnel testing has also resulted in a spoiler at the top of the rear window, created by cutting a wide duct into the carbonfibre roof panel and venting the air out through a special rear window with a gap in the top.

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Complimenting the aerodynamic addenda are deeply flared wheel arches which barely contain the widened, 18-inch Fuchs-tribute monobloc wheels made specially by BBS Motorsport. In keeping with the squeaky-clean Singer look, there are none of the exposed bolts that one might find on other upgraded old 911s’ arch extensions.

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Fittingly, the attention to detail is forensic, including new tail light clusters containing little air vents in the outer corners, flanking circular inner lenses. The rear quarterlight windows also double as air intakes, featuring a deep tuck to integrate the main air scoop on each side in a subtle way. Further venting of heat is provided by replacing the rear licence plate housing with a grille.

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The interior is a little less classical in its aesthetic. The leather-clad carbonfibre seats feature cut-outs and hollow headrests, as much as a visual nod to the ‘lightweighting’ at work as a contribution to it. Dominating the centre tunnel is a raised bridge presenting the polished metal gear lever, under which a Lotus-esque exposed shift linkage can be found.

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The first car shown features a built-in rollcage, optional racing harnesses and no rear seats (instead there are plastic shells to house a helmet), but all 75 cars are of course built to the owner's exacting specification and don't necessarily have to be as stripped-out inside. However, it's worth bearing in mind that this more hardcore Singer can be brought down to a weight of just 990kg for maximum agility, if the most hardcore spec is chosen.

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Speaking of spec, the engineering upgrades go far beyond mere spoilers, scoops and vents. A new, 4.0-litre, 500-horsepower air-cooled flat-six engine was developed by Williams with oversight from Porsche engineering legends Hans Mezger and Norbert Singer, both key influencers of cars that dominated Le Mans in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The Singer 911 DLS should thus have the pace – and, with a rev limit of 9000rpm, the sound – to match or exceed the looks.

Test driving and evaluation was carried out by endurance racer Marino Franchitti and motoring personality Chris Harris.

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If you like what you see and can afford not to care how much things cost, Singer are now taking commissions for the 75 ‘DLS’ cars at a new facility within the Williams Group complex in Grove, Oxfordshire.

But should you?

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Singer 911s, before and after F1 influence

The trend for customisers ‘backdating’ or just heavily modifying air-cooled (pre-1997) Porsche 911s to combine later mechanicals with earlier looks, has been around for years, as hype for the German icon continues to hit sky-high new levels. The temptation is to go aggressive, like Japan's RWB among others, but Singer stood out for making something more sophisticated than the litter of wide-arched, duck-tailed 911s leaving garages in Japan and the US West Coast.

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While serious mechanical upgrades have always been on the table, the appearance has always been smooth, carefully balanced and extremely classy; an idealised, near-perfect version of what the early 911s were.

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Does the 21st-century aero clash with the retro forms too much?

The Williams version, while as curvaceous and dramatic as one could ever hope for, is visually more in line with the usual themes of stuck-on arches, big spoilers and other details that are “like an RS.” By comparison to the clean, considered cars Singer usually makes, the DLS could be considered a little overcooked...

But of course, any potential customers who think that way are still free to specify theirs in Singer's usual style if they want a more subtle take on a modernised-yet-retro air-cooled Porsche. It would certainly be a fun problem to have to philosophise about.