The First Name in “Outlaw” Porsches Wants to Turn the Macan Into an Off-Road Beast

Rod Emory's dad pioneered the Baja Bug. Will his Baja Macan catch on?

The new Porsche Macan SUV in blue driving on the sand
Can Rod Emory's new Baja Macan build turn you over to the dark side?

What happened at Porsche in the ‘90s? Did someone dig up a fortune-telling crystal ball? Was there some deal brokered among brimstone, a soul or two exchanged for the keys to automotive dominance? First there was the unexpected, runaway success of the Boxster, then their early entry into the high-powered SUV race with the Cayenne, which is now their sales leader along with the newer, svelter Macan. The Germans, it seems, know how to claimjump a trend before it even appears.

One of the less heralded prognostications can be seen in a Car and Driver review of the Cayenne, Porsche’s first SUV, back when it was released in 2003. 

“Why, when a statistically insignificant number of SUV owners ever venture off-road, would Porsche — a company that year in, year out builds the best sports cars in the world — burden the Cayenne with such silly amounts of heavy, hillock-humping capacity?” the magazine mused. Maybe Porsche knew their buyers would want the peace of mind that they could go anywhere, even if the toughest terrain involved five-star resorts in the mountains. But maybe they also knew that at some point in the not-too-distant future, the off-road potential of their SUVs would be realized by an automotive superstar. 

The latter came to fruition this week when Rod Emory, the first name in the quote-unquote “Outlaw” Porsche movement, announced on Instagram that he’s working on an eccentric new build. No, it’s not another no-holds-barred 356 or 911, but a “Baja Macan,” an off-road version of the marque’s smaller SUV. 

“I know most people are playing with the Cayenne but the Macan is by far my favorite SUV on road and I can’t wait to make it my favorite off-road,” Emory wrote in a post on the platform, which was pointed out by the folks at The Drive.

The man behind world renowned Emory Motorsports, Rod Emory has made a name for himself by building Outlaw Porsche 356s and 911s, which are essentially heavily personalized versions of the sports cars that break the rules of traditional restoration and customization. In business since the mid-’90s, he sits at the very top of the Porsche restomod pantheon, a select group that also includes individuals like Magnus Walker and similarly sought-after shops like Singer Vehicle Design. But now that custom Porsches are hotter than ever, inspiring a number of copycats, Emory seems happy to be taking on a project no one expected. 

Well, no one except the select few who know their history. As Emory wrote in the post, his father Gary built an off-road version of the Volkswagen Beetle dubbed the “Baja Bug” in the ‘60s, a desert bruiser that is credited with kicking off a subculture of beefed-up Beetles. And so, just as Rod is carrying on the hot rodding legacy of his grandfather Neil Emory with his shop, here he is carrying on the legacy of his father by attempting to turn an unassuming road car into an all-terrain beast, something he at least has some experience with.

While Emory didn’t detail the upgrades he’ll be adding to his Porsche Macan to make it a “Baja” blast, The Drive took a look at the renderings and figured “it’ll get a serious lift, underbody armor, a bull bar, BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A tires to spare, and enough lighting to make the sun squint.”

Will the Macan become the new go-to off-roader among those with six-figure car allowances? It depends on whether or not Emory can pull this concept off. That said, we haven’t seen the shop fail yet. 

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