Porsches The history of usable sports car construction is as rich as the name of the brand. This is Porsche’s bread and butter, a fine balance between performance and elegance. And all of this with the most modern German engineering.
Porsche’s most defining product and one of the, if not the best, sports cars of all time is the Porsche 911. With models from the Carrera Touring to the GT3 RS suitable for the race track, the range of applications and versatility of the 911 is enormous. This has been confirmed with Sabelt’s latest iteration of an all-terrain 911 prepared for the Dakar Rally.
We have seen many Safari-style 911s over the years and yet the novelty hasn’t worn off. The idea of ââdriving a Porsche in a desert rally is a romanticized dream for most gasoline fans, and the reason for this is easy to understand. Let’s take a look at this Dakar-ready Porsche 911 and all the things that make it the ultimate dune buggy.
The history of the Dakar Rally
I think in order to understand how special the 911 is that we’re going to be talking about today, we need context. The Dakar Rally is widely regarded as one of the toughest, but also most rewarding, rallies still taking place today. Since its inception in 1978, manufacturers, wealthy business people, and everyone in between have made the journey from the French capital all the way down to Dakar, the capital of Senegal.
Originally called Paris Dakar, the Dakar Rally had to change its route a few times and is now simply called Dakar Rally. The rally has toured South America, the Middle East and of course Africa, it is an advertising opportunity, but it also has great bragging rights when you can say: “I finished the Dakar Rally”. And for this year’s edition, the rally is taking place in Saudi Arabia for the second time. Regardless of the location, there are a few things that are in common with the rally.
On the one hand, cars, dirt bikes and trucks are allowed to drive in, which makes for an exciting scramble through the sand. Second, the terrain is mostly sandy and barren, which means that there are hardly any fuel stops and hardly any concrete on a stage. Last but not least, long distances consume 450-500 kilometers (300 miles) per stage with a day or two of rest in between.
Cars need to be comfortable, off-road, have storage space for tents and supplies, and can travel 500 kilometers (310 miles) on one tank. The grueling drive is often shared by two drivers and can mean up to 8 hours of sitting in a day as they traverse sand, rock, and gravel. For all of these reasons, it’s not surprising that a Porsche may require some handicraft to handle such a task.
The Porsche Dakar 911
This brings us perfectly to this gloriously prepared and reinforced 964 platform Carrera that has been prepared for the Dakar Rally. The car was specially built for the Dakar Classic 2022 race. It began life as a humble model from 1991 that retained its original drive combination of a six-cylinder boxer engine and a five-speed manual transmission. And that’s about as much originality as this “classic” Porsche retains. The characteristic air-cooled engine is tuned to around 300 hp that go to all four wheels.
The most notable change is the ride height. Sat on really finished suspension, it has all the trimmings. Double wishbones with adjustable shock absorbers and 35-inch tires, ready to soak up the cracks under the modified body. A 42-gallon fuel cell (160 liters) keeps the 911 on the move for large-scale operations in the desert. Inside, with fixed racing seats, 5-point harnesses and a full roll cage to protect main sponsor Sabelt, things are definitely serious.
The other individual and controversial aspect of this Safari-style 911 is the paintwork. A paint job can be over the top, a graffiti job might be more appropriate as there are marked words and designs in bold red spray paint all over the body panels of this car. And no, this is not vandalism, but an ode to the graffiti artists of the 80s and 90s who had a huge cultural impact on the world of street art. While it’s still one of the rarer paint jobs on a racing car, the graffiti on that particular vehicle is just a temporary measure to promote the racing team, and we expect something different on race day.
It’s not the first rally-ready Porsche specifically built for the Dakar Rally, this lineage is strong and we expect it to continue. And if this safari-ready 964 reminds you of the iconic Rothmans Porsches that dominated the early Paris-Dakar rallies, it’s no coincidence. Both the 953 and 959 were strong inspiration for this project, which was carried out by Agostino and Alberto Vassallo of Car & Vintage in collaboration with CountrysideWay and TAG Heuer. We can’t wait to see this classic cut through the sand at the Dakar Classic.
With the Porsche Taycan Turbo S, the Tesla Model S has just got its first real competitor.
About the author