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ELECTRIC PORSCHE 935: PLUG IN BABY

Posted by Matt Bell on 23rd February 2021

Bisimoto Engineering has made a name for itself for high-quality performance tuning, pumping massive and reliable power into everything from Porsche Boxsters to Honda Odysseys. But the team’s latest baby is a step into the unknown, swapping internal combustion for volts and wires to create this electric Porsche 935.

Featured first appeared in Fast Car. Words Joe Partridge. Photos: Larry Chen

The notion of reinventing classic cars with electric powertrains is increasingly big business these days. It makes a lot of sense for a number of reasons; despite the tiny overall percentage of global carbon emissions that are attributable to classics, they are an easy target for legislation because they’re so visible. Couple this with the fact that certain old cars are proving increasingly tricky to find replacement parts and maintenance items for, and you can certainly see the logic of extracting the aged oily bits and dropping in a shiny new electric motor.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle for people like us (that is, dyed-in-the-wool petrolheads) to vault is that none of this really fits in with the way we’ve always liked to do things. The character of any individual engine, it’s idiosyncrasies of maintenance and of power delivery, you lose all that when you replace it with battery power. What we really need is a hardcore tuning legend to have a go at the format and reassure us that an electric future is every bit as exciting as one based on crushed dinosaur bones. And thankfully, that hero can be found in Ontario, California: Bisi Ezerioha, the mastermind behind the world-famous Bisimoto Engineering, has taken a break from creating astonishingly powerful Hondas and flame-spitting 911s to craft the electric Porsche 935 K3 you see before you. The sepia-era racer aesthetic acts like a sledgehammer to the solar plexus, as it has done for generations, but under the skin it’s buzzing with volts.

Electric switch

“We have always been a purely petrol ICE-based organisation, with a bit of expansion into hybrid tech with our OEM partners,” he explains. “This is our first venture into a full EV automobile, and we had to invest a lot of time, resources and engineering into making it come to life.” It’s fair to say that there have been no half-measures here either. With the renowned quality inherent in any Bisimoto build, it wouldn’t have been enough to simply wire in any old electric motor and be pleased that it worked; no, this powertrain puts out a staggering 636hp, furnishing this 935 with an eye-watering power-to-weight ratio of 523hp/tonne – the same as you’d find in a McLaren P1, Pagani Huayra or Bugatti Veyron. Serious stuff, and thanks to the nature of electric power delivery, all the torque is available from zero-rpm. So this Porsche is every bit as devastating as it looks.

Bisi has form with building outrageous and unexpected cars with jaw-dropping horsepower, so he knows a thing or two about shock and awe – but surely it doesn’t really count if you’re starting with a car that was supposed to be fast in the first place? And one that already had a reputation as being something of a widowmaker? Well, yes and no… there’s fast, and there’s fast. And let’s not forget that the car we’re dealing with here is no ordinary 911: the 935 is race car royalty.

“I wanted to build a 935, as it was the epitome of Porsche racing in the 1980s when I grew up,” he reasons, and there can be few more noble pursuits than building a physical manifestation of one’s dreams. “It is also a revered race car for Porsche purists, and I wanted the community to pay attention to what the future holds – it was a project that was planned as one: an electric Porsche 935. The car itself is a 1984 model purchased from Ron Palmer, the president of the Porsche Owners Club in America, as a bare roller… a car that was stored at his father’s house, and destined to a life of never seeing a road or track ever again.”

So not only did Bisi give the 935 a new lease of life, he essentially saved it. And to appreciate the significance of that, let’s remind ourselves exactly what this car is. Back in 1976, Porsche developed the model as a racing evolution of the 930 Turbo, prepared to FIA Group 5 regs. It was a hugely successful racer through the late-1970s, winning the Le Mans 24hr in 1979. The bodystyle of Bisi’s car is what’s known as a K3, and for this we need to take a sidestep toward Kremer Racing of Cologne: in 1976, they developed their own version of the 935 alongside Porsche’s own efforts, naming their creation the K1. In 1977 this evolved into the K2, and in ’79 they debuted the Kremer K3 – and yes, with Klaus Ludwig behind the wheel battling through heavy rain, this was the version that took Le Mans victory. So there are some big shoes to fill here.

“This vehicle is a proof-of-concept project, and is used for transportation, testing on and off track, demos, and street activity,” says Bisi. “The biggest hurdles in the build related to the technology, battery sourcing, designing a non-invasive kit, and making the car as easy as possible to drive while keeping it exciting for enthusiasts. EV tech is lots of fun but must be handled with care, as it can be extremely dangerous to handle.” Having jumped in at the deep end in terms of research and development, Bisi’s team pinpointed the very best technology available to make a serious point about electric power; the single-drive custom AC 3-phase induction motor runs at 403 volts with an 18,000rpm redline, operating at 90+% efficiency. It’s mated to a single-speed transmission with neutral, forward and reverse gears actuated by cutting power to the stator, inducing power, and reversing respectively (there’s a traditional shifter for that), and the fabrication for mounting and hooking up all of this was a huge step into the unknown for the team – the fact that it works so devastatingly effectively is testament to their quick learning! And of course they were on more familiar ground when it came to setting up the chassis to deploy all of these buzzing numbers. KW V3 coilovers are a proven entity, here mated to an HLS2 front air-cup lift kit, while Eibach were the go-to for anti-roll bars and Stoptech beefed up the brakes. The wheel choice is a glorious fusion of old and new that mirrors the ethos of the build as a whole; the Brixton Forged BM01 is a boxfresh modern design, staggered here in both width and diameter to complete the correct 935 aesthetic – the fronts are 10×17-inch, the rears 12.5×19-inch – and pleasingly they’re wearing turbofans. These are very much on-trend right now, but its old-school racers like the 935 that these things came from in the first place.

Naturally there’d be no point putting such painstaking work into perfecting the big-power electric drivetrain if it was going to be sitting in a body that was sub-par, so the Bisimoto artisans pulled out all the stops (and worked with their most trusted associates) to ensure that the aesthetics were on-point. That original-mould K3 body has been slathered in Glasurit Slate Grey metallic paint by Dreamworks Auto Center, then topped off with an Illustrious Auto Styling wrap and decals in the custom Andy Blackmore Design livery. The APR GT-1000 dual-element carbon rear wing, high-performance splitter and Bisimoto rear carbon gurney flaps help to trebuchet the 935 profile into the present day, with the bona fide 917 fuel filler catapulting it right back into the annals of history again.

“People’s reactions to the car have been amazing,” Bisi smiles, “from how it looks, to the shock of being an electric Porsche, to the awe at the absence of ICE sound.” He’s truly pushed the envelope with this project, as is very much his modus operandi, and of course there’s far more to this than merely peacocking some new technology for the sake of it: “We are now offering a program to preserve clients’ air-cooled engines and gearboxes, while upgrading their classic Porsches to this modern conversion,” he explains. “It’s 100-percent non-invasive, and easily reversible.” It’s hard not to argue with the logic of it, really – if you own a classic Porsche, Bisimoto can make it faster and far more environmentally friendly, without the peril of losing originality. It’s a compelling notion. And thanks to the devastatingly forthright nature of this otherworldly electric Porsche 935, you can be sure that this band of modifying superheroes are at the top of their game. The rules may be different when you swap dino-juice for ones-and-zeroes, but it’s the same playing field – and Bisi’s playing for keeps.

Tech Spec: Electric Porsche 935

Styling:

935 K3 body – from original moulds, Andy Blackmore Design livery, Glasurit Slate Grey metallic paint – by Dreamworks Auto Center, RAVEN K3V ARC 9Eleven headlights – by DR Design, APR GT-1000 dual-element carbon rear wing and high-performance splitter, Bisimoto rear carbon gurney flaps, Rhythms powder-coating, Illustrious Auto Styling wrap and decals, 917 fuel filler cap

Tuning:

475kW (636hp) single-drive custom AC 3-phase induction motor, liquid-cooled, 90+% efficiency, 403 volts, 18,000rpm redline, single-speed 9.73:1 gearbox (neutral, forward and reverse gears actuated by cutting power to the stator, inducing power, and reversing respectively), PurOl gear oil, PurOl coolant treatment, 76kW regenerative braking system via motor, 6-wire drive-by-wire throttle input, Bisimoto controller with CANBUS output, Bisimoto motor cradle, Rothfab battery box, LG Chem 60V batteries, Dillithium BMS, Rasant wiring harness, Rywire charging harness, Bosch water pump, EVW contactors, DC/DC converter, fuses and holders, ElCon charger, J1772 charging port, CSF GT3 centre radiator, reservoir cap and dual compact dual-pass oil coolers for inverter, stator, gearbox and battery cooling, Tractuff aluminium heat-exchanger filler reservoir with CSF cap

Chassis:

10x17in (front) and 12.5x19in (rear) Brixton Forged BM01 wheels with custom Brixton turbofans, 275/40 (f) and 345/30 (r) Toyo RR tyres, KW V3 coilovers with HLS2 front air-cup lift kit, front and rear Eibach anti-roll bars, Stoptech Level 3 front and rear big brake kit (332mm front, 328mm rear)

Interior:

MOMO Supercup seats, AEM CD5 logger dash, Quaife shifter, MOMO Prototipo steering wheel, Vibrant Performance coolant lines, Dyme PSI fittings, Voltaik communication protocol, SOS Customz RS carpet kit and headlining, Bisimoto 6-point rollcage, Rasant dash delete, EV West high-voltage cables, LA Dismantler stalk and switches, Wilwood dual master floor pedals, Racepak Smartwire PDM, Odyssey 925 12v battery