Why Did Porsche Draw the Line at Singer’s Viral Off-Road 911?

It could be a simple case of protecting the brand. It could also mean Porsche is working on a similar project.

Singer Vehicle Design ACS Safari Porsche 911
Is this Singer ACS case about protecting the Porsche brand? Or something more?
Singer Vehicle Design

Singer Vehicle Design is one of the first names in Porsche modifications, specifically focusing on the 964 edition of the storied 911 sports car. Anytime the L.A. shop unveils a new build, you can expect to see artfully shot photos show up on car blogs, Instagram accounts and subreddits. But the Singer All-Terrain Competition Study (ACS), an off-road-ready Safari 911 that debuted in January, was a singular sensation; it went as viral as a modified Porsche can go, becoming inescapable on social media and racking up over a million views on Top Gear’s YouTube channel.

Then, for some reason, the ACS disappeared from Singer’s website and social channels, and from Tuthill Porsche, the U.K. outfit that partnered on the project. According to reporting from Carscoops, the removal comes via Porsche proper, as the German automaker “complained about the large ‘Porsche’ lettering on the privately commissioned car.” In other words, Porsche wants to protect its brand. 

“We are glad to have a growing community of Porsche enthusiasts. They help us to ensure that so many Porsche cars originally built decades ago remain on the road and are still being enjoyed,” the company told Carscoops in a statement. “At the same time, we have a responsibility to our customers to ensure that Porsche products — designed and engineered by us — can be clearly and easily identified … We do this by allowing only products created or directly licensed by us to carry the Porsche name.”

Notably, as Road & Track pointed out, the ACS did make a recent appearance at Austria’s GP Ice Race with a new, non-Porsche livery.

Of course, Singer’s previous builds have carried the Porsche name as well (just take a look at their website and you’ll see it multiple times in the front-and-center slideshow). It’s possible that due to the popularity and virality of the ACS, Porsche maybe thought it was time to put their foot down and rein it in at Singer. But is there something else going on here? 

As has been reported at a number of outlets, Porsche may be working on their own proprietary Safari build that could see production in model year 2022. What does that mean, exactly? As TopSpeed explained, “The Safari name … [is] based on a nickname given to a handful of rally-spec cars that Porsche built in the past,” and the company has been spotted testing 911 variants “with a raised suspension.”

These kinds of off-road Porsche builds have become popular in the aftermarket world, meaning there is money to be made (Singer is certainly charging an arm and a leg for the ACS and any other builds like it), so it stands to reason that the Germans might want a piece. And by entering the fray themselves, they’d be able to control the conversation rather than being seen as the bad guy when they bring down the hammer on a fan favorite like Singer.

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