LAKEVILLE, CT (December 2023) —
A black Porsche 911 Cabriolet swings through the corners of the legendary Lime Rock Park race track in Lakeville, Connecticut. The iconic profile slices across the course as the tires grip the asphalt in familiar reverence, but the time-honored rumble of the six pumping cylinders cannot be heard. No, the celebrated M64 engine is not running, is not even on the track, but sits miles away in a shop formerly owned by local racing legend Skip Barber. Black magic? Not exactly, though this triple black 911 does have a dark secret. It’s the kind of alchemy that makes certain Porsche enthusiasts cry out, “Sin! Blasphemy! Sacrilege!”
Aircraft engineer, Porsche mechanic, and mad scientist Bobby Singh, along with co-founder and longtime Porsche enthusiast Phil Wagenheim, are responsible for this abomination to Porsche purists everywhere. An abomination, that is, if your definition of purist means to play the stubborn custodian in the sacred halls of the past, to maintain a wholly backward-looking gaze and uphold an ideology that the soul of a car is solely the sum of its mechanical parts. But Singh and Wagenheim see things differently.
The road to electrify the 911 began in 2020 and rightfully shocked the car world on the Concept Lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on Sunday, August 20, 2023, when this dark threat debuted. It’s a 1992 911 America Roadster (one of 250 made), which Singh converted at his laboratory (formerly a Skip Barber facility) near Lime Rock Park, swapping the original M64 engine for a custom Tesla Model S motor. The commission was named the “SR001 BlackBird” by its owner, after the supersonic Lockheed SR-71 aircraft; it’s a street-legal EV powerhouse that looks, at first glance, like just another 911 turbo.
That’s because Singh and Wagenheim take an “as needed” approach to EV conversion, using OEM Porsche components whenever possible and maintaining the original 911 look, drivability, and legendary quality at all costs. With an engineering background that began with restoring 747’s at John F. Kennedy Airport, followed by three decades as an elite Porsche mechanic, Singh understands the legacy behind the Porsche crest and speaks the language of its legendary mechanics. “For me to do this project and stand behind it,” says Singh, “I had to do it the right way. I have 30 years of seeing the way Porsche built their cars. I thought if Porsche built an EV car I wanted to say, ‘maybe this is what it would look like.’”
For over three decades, Wagenheim has trusted Singh to maintain his own 993 twin turbo, and he’s not alone. “In Bobby’s shop there is a 959-s, 959, and a CGT, all with engine-outs,” says Wagenheim. “Very few people would trust someone with those cars with an engine-out restoration.”
At the onset of their electrified journey, the two procured a domestic EV conversion kit, which, according to Singh, simply didn’t pass muster. “Bobby said, ‘There’s no way I’m putting this in the car,'” Wagenheim explains. So, the search continued. “We scoured the world for the proper OEM look for the car and decided on Fellten,” says Wagenheim. “They are ISO 9001, they do everything right, and they’ve got a partnership with BMW.” Based in Bristol, UK, Fellten supplies Recharge Heritage with their EV conversions on classic Mini Coopers as part of BMW’s Classic Mini Recharged project. The company continues to work with Sacrilege Motors on exclusive cutting-edge electric powertrain development projects.
Singh and Wagenheim are well aware of their critics; that’s why it’s in the name of their company, Sacrilege Motors. “It’s like, okay, let’s get this out of the way,” says Singh, “so we can move on and talk about the car.” The vision of Sacrilege is that EV conversion creates a near-bulletproof electric daily driver out of an air-cooled classic. While indisputably legendary in its own right, these retro gems require an unyielding 5-year maintenance schedule, which has left many sitting forever behind garage doors. “Everyone says, you’re taking the soul out of the car,” explains Wagenheim, who argues that “the familiarity and the drivability of the car is the soul of the car.”
The BlackBird maintains the original iconic “turbo style” body but has near-unseen upgrades necessary to support the 500hp motor, about twice the stock horsepower for this 911 rolling off the factory line in 1992. “The whole vision, the whole project was to look OEM,” says Singh, “nothing flashy. There are no holes, we didn’t cut anything, we didn’t mod’ the chassis.” After four months of research, fifteen different coil setups, and testing with Penske, the team selected two-way inverted custom Penske race shocks in front and three-way adjustable remote-reservoir custom Penske race shocks in the rear. All around, Brembo performance brakes with slotted rotors provide enhanced braking. The car’s two batteries were carefully arranged in the front and rear to maintain four corner balance and preserve the 911’s iconic road feel. Aside from a cleverly disguised OEM-looking Magsafe inductive phone charger in the car’s center console, the propensity to run modification-happy, as a principle, has been substantially averted. Even the dashboard with analog VDO looking gauges maintains the classic 911 cockpit appearance. Only now, the gauges display certain EV-related measurements such as kilowatt usage, battery level, and EV range (estimated at 200 miles). Alongside the speedometer is a large state of charge gauge, replacing the traditional tachometer. Even the charging port has been designed and fitted into the car’s original front driver-side fuel filler.
Those critics who quit wringing their hands in disbelief for long enough to take the wheel of this machine will soon discover the true limit of their mechanical ideologies. And these days the Sacrilege Motors’ unofficial home and test track, Lime Rock Park, has become a graveyard of purists’ convictions. Celebrated racer Steve Katz gave his video testimony after taking the BlackBird on the track, calling the car simply “bad-ass” and stating with no shortage of enthusiasm, “It may be one of the best street cars I’ve driven on the racetrack.” But what does Katz know? He is, after all, only the track record holder at Lime Rock Park. For all the hemming and hawing of their detractors, Wagenheim sees only one cure. “Until you drive it, you don’t get it,” he says, “you really have to drive it, to understand what Bobby has done?”
The team at Sacrilege currently has six cars in production and accepts 964s and G-body client donor cars that meet their specifications, which are, chiefly, very little rust and no frame damage. The 964’s are completely reversible without any touching of the frame and the G-body cars require the replacement of stock wiring harness per Singh’s behest. Sacrilege Motors sees their work as adding to a car collection, not replacing them. “911’s are meant to be driven,” says Wagenheim. “You can take a 50 or 60-year-old car and turn it into a daily driver.” For those seeking a sustainable, low-maintenance solution to keep their 911 on the road for generations to come, Sacrilege Motors will keep the light on. Says Wagenheim, “Porsche says the car is timeless, we want to keep this car timeless.”
Sacrilege Motors™ restores 1974-1994 classic Porsches to concours-grade quality, focusing on driving dynamics, breathtaking performance, exquisite interior design, and reliable conversion to all-electric power. Sacrilege Motors™ does not manufacture or sell automobiles. Sacrilege Motors™ is not sponsored, associated, approved, endorsed, nor, in any way, affiliated with Porsche Cars North America, Inc., or Dr. Ing. H.C.F. Porsche, AG. The Porsche name and crest, 911 and Targa are trademarks of Dr. Ing. H.C.F. Porsche AG, and any other products mentioned are the trademarks of their respective holders. Any mention of trademarked names or other marks is for purposes of reference only.
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