A closer look at 9-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen’s restomodded Porsche 911

You can actually buy one of these, but it’ll cost you around P23 million
by Ollie Kew | Feb 12, 2022
PHOTO: Johnny Fleetwood via TopGear.com
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Yes, it’s a restomod Porsche 911. Does the world need another one? Surely there are now more mid-1980s Porsches pretending to be mid-1960s Porsches with modern bits not-from-Porsches than well, new Porsches?

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This one’s a bit special though. And worthy of your attention. Because it is the first Kalmar Automotive 7-97. And that means it’s been the brainchild of someone approaching the status of ‘living legend’ in four-wheel circles: Tom ‘Mr. Le Mans’ Kristensen. The Danish nine-time winner of the 24-hour race. Here’s how he likes his 911s.

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Kristensen is a 40% shareholder in Kalmar Automotive, which comes to you from the fertile mind of Jan Kalmar, businessman, rally enthusiast, and fellow Dane.

While Kalmar is most associated with off-roading old Porsches, he and Kristensen got to thinking about what their take on a retro-inspired ‘reimagined’ 911 for the road would look like. Apparently, the WhatsApp thread between the two men bouncing ideas off one another runs to ‘several thousand messages.’

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Underneath, this started life as a 964-gen 911. But Kalmar’s completely re-thought it, so much so that there aren’t even any Porsche badges left on the car: currently, it’s got silver-colored Kalmar shields, though they’re currently arguing over whether or not to switch them to gold.

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Yes, it should be on wider tires than this. Gorgeous Fuchs rims, in fact. But as we met Tom and Jan in northern Finland at Kalmar’s private ice-driving school, it was wearing gawky (but incredibly effective) stuffed rally spikes. Yours won’t be—unless you ask for them.

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Yes, I did say ‘yours.’ You can buy one of these 7-97s, named after Tom Kristensen’s first Le Mans-winning number (Joest Racing Porsche no. 7) and the year he scored the first of his nine la Sarthe victories (1997).

Tom’s car, however, is not just a pet project. It’s also a working prototype…

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Underneath, there are some secrets. Jan Kalmar explains they’re using this car to test an adaptive suspension system (think comfort/sport modes eventually changeable with a button rather than spanners) and an electric power-steering system that only kicks in at low speed. The rest of the time it’s off, to give steering feels from the gods.

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Why bother with it at all? “Because I want my kids to be able to enjoy this car, but my daughter said it was kind of hard to park,” explains Tom.

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So let’s have a look at the details. TG’s favorite? The Danish flag in the rev counter, acting as the redline for the 3.8-liter, 313hp flat-six. Air-cooled, of course. Beneath that, Tom’s signature is etched into the tacho. Lovely.

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Speaking of the engine, here it is. Beautifully presented, with special mention going to the exquisitely machined hinged struts which hold up the engine cover. They’ve been scalloped for lightness and look like the sort of cutlery you’d find in Tony Stark’s kitchen.

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The slatted engine cover itself has an Easter egg all its own: It’s electronically motorized and lifts up into the horizontal at the touch of a button. It’s a homage to later 911s and their lift-up engine covers more than a downforce or cooling aid, but as cosmetic touches go, it’s a neat one.

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Brakes are from standard Porsches: a 993 Turbo up front, and a 964 Turbo at the rear. And yes, the paintwork color is indeed inspired by Audi’s trademark ‘Nardo Grey’…

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It’s not cheap. About €400,000 (about P23.36 million), plus tax, plus a suitable donor car. Depending on your spec you’re unlikely to get much change from half a million quid. But Kalmar does point out that you don’t pay anything until after completion—there’s no ‘put down half the money in good faith now, and the rest when the paint is dry’ here. 

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It’ll join an eclectic garage at Chez Kristensen. He’s got an Audi R18 TDI e-tron LMP1 car, and a 1920s Bentley. His daily cars are an Audi RSQ8 and, at the other end of the Audi very-fast-AWD-car scale, an RS e-Tron GT electric sedan.

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So, why not a Singer? “There were a few reasons,” explains Tom. “The price, the delivery time, and there were a few things that I wanted to do differently. I met Jan and we decided to build just two cars, but that’s just how it started. I call it ‘haute couture’—hand-built.”

NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.

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PHOTO: Johnny Fleetwood via TopGear.com
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