New Porsche restomod is exceptionally light and, with less than 200bhp, modestly powered. Does it get the blend just right?

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The Kamm 912c is another Porsche restomod only this isn’t a six-cylinder one like seemingly all of the others. Instead of starting with a Porsche 911, Budapest tuner Miklós zmér has taken the four-cylinder rear-engined Porsche, the 912, as the basis for this car.

The original 912 was made as a replacement for the 356, and built from 1965 to 1969 as an entry-level alternative to the then-new 911. For a time, it even outsold its more expensive six-cylinder sibling. Not only was it cheaper, but shorn of some standard equipment and with two fewer cylinders it was also lighter than contemporary 911s, with less rearward weight bias and a longer cruising range. 

Porsche made nearly 30,000 of them and it’s a tidy surivor (not too tidy and not too shabby) to which zmér, under the Kamm Manufacktur brand name, turns his attention.

This is the first Kamm 912c which we've now driven a couple of times, first as an early prototype and now in near-finalised form. As we write (July 2023) the first customer cars are on the way. There are only two build slots left for this year.

Taking weight out of the 912, already a light vehicle, is Kamm's starting point. The standard steel shell receives just a little stiffening around the suspension points, while the bonnet, engine cover, front wings and doors are all carbonfibre, with an influx of the stuff inside too. The standard 912 weighs only a little over 950kg but here the claim is 750kg, wet and with optional air conditioning. zmér says it could be as little as sub-700kg if he really went to town on emptying the car’s insides.

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Kamm manufaktur 912c 05 dashboard

As it is, there are carbonfibre-backed seats, carbonfibre components that you can either leave with visible weave or have clad so it still looks period-authentic, which is what Kázmér says he’d do: he wants it to feel like a 1960s/1970s track/race car (which shows in the way the car was set-up early on). Ditto the exterior panels and, inside and out, they’re all fitted beautifully. At a glance, you wouldn’t know they weren’t original, which is why there aren’t LED headlights or anything like that. Kamm is asking £311,000 including the donor car and taxes paid at today’s exchange rates, and I’ve seen more asked for less visual quality. You can tell the wheels aren’t quite to original spec but that’s personal choice, and they wear fairly racy Yokohama AD08RS rubber in 195/55 (front) and 205/50 (rear) R15 size, which is the first clue as to what this car is like.

The original 912 engine has been modified to take it from 1.6 to 2.0 litres. The engine case and crank are the same but there are bigger bores, it has bespoke throttle bodies, and overall power is 190bhp and 168lb ft. The redline's at 7200rpm. It drives through a five-speed manual gearbox with a dog-leg first and what I’m told is a tight limited-slip differential. There are coilovers front and rear, and TracTive of the Netherlands is Kamm's go-to suspension partner, who bring five-stage adjustable semi-active dampers. There are unassisted AP racing brakes.

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Kamm manufaktur 912c 15 side static

The 2.0-litre size and 190bhp look like relatively sensible outputs and ultimately we’re talking a similar power-to-weight ratio to an Alpine A110, a car that feels light on its feet but is a good third heavier. If you’re expecting something similarly delicate in its control weights, though, think again. For its first iteration I was told to treat the 912c like a go-kart. It had short springs and harsh bump stops, plus steering at 1.7 turns lock-to-lock. As a 'short Saturday morning blast' sort of car, it was terrific, but it was exceptionally urgent, with heavy steering. I loved it, but it was full-on.

Kamm has since developed both the suspension, for more compliance, plus fitted a slower (2.4 turns) steering rack. It remains a physical car to drive but it's now more habitable on UK roads. The suspension no longer bottoms out and crashes over bumps, so it rounds and absorbs the worst of things, and yet body control remains nicely tight. I picked a middle-firm setting for the dampers via the rotary dashboard switch, but all settings are quite well controlled. The steering filters out kickback too, yet weights up pleasingly with feel and response as cornering speeds build.

The seating position is good and pedals great, because they’re an aftermarket Tilton floor-hinged set. All are positive but heavy. The gearshift has a moderate throw and is mostly fine, but I still found I occasionally mis-selected. It's less slick, perhaps understandably, than a modern 'box.

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There’s more. The engine fires to a positive bark and has a really strong response. Kamm could seek more power still - it had 170bhp when we first tried it, and 190bhp now - but in either form I'd say the response is about right for this kind of road car. It pulls well even from the lower mid-range and it makes a pleasing noise that suits the rest of the 912c's character. You don't have to rev it out to make progress, and it's quite long-geared, but it's fun, and loud, if you do hold on to a lower ratio. Flick a switch and it turns the volume up a bit and pops on the overrun. Flick it back and it's well-behaved in town.

Kamm manufaktur 912c 04 front tracking

With the classic looks and specification, I was almost expecting a ‘drive to the theatre’ sort of car when I first tried the Kamm 912c, but it’s not that sort of vehicle, even in this later, more steady setup - and if you want, you can still have the hyper-urgent 1.7 turns rack and harder suspension that zmér liked early doors. Either way, it's a purer sports car than it is a tourer. It's immersive like a Caterham or an early Lotus Elise. I’ve not driven an original Porsche 912, so I don’t know how authentic that feeing is or whether, actually, that matters: there are a lot of restomods these days, and a lot of restored original cars, and there’s something lovely about the fact that this Kamm doesn’t seem to do what other cars do. In a niche but busy market, that feels important.

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zmér says he’d like to make a few – perhaps 20-30, but there’s no limit. I like the fact he’s not going to turn people away, and that the spec is very much open. If you want the more relaxed style of the present setup, you can have it. You want the earlier one, no problem. You want no interior and a full rollcage and a race engine, it's yours. Every time I've tried the car, in any of its forms, I've really enjoyed it.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes.