The German tuner has fettled high-end sports cars for decades. Here are some of the best.
German tuning house Gemballa has been known for building radical performance Porsches for over 40 years now. Uwe Gemballa founded the tuning house in 1981, which made its name on building wild cars. The man Gembella disappeared in early February of 2010, then turned up dead in South Africa, hands tied behind his back, shot in the head, and wrapped in cellophane. Nobody can claim to know the exact story, but Gemballa was in financial trouble and it's believed that his murder was a result of a money-laundering operation.
The factory was promptly shut down by German authorities, but CEO Andreas Schwarz and an investor named Steffen Korbach managed to secure the rights to the Gemballa name. The company moved forward and has kept the Gemballa name synonymous with crazy fast cars. While Gembella is mostly associated with Porsche cars, that's not all the tuning house works with. These are the highlights of the company's cars over the years.
The Porsche 930 was an insanely fast car at the time, but that didn't stop people from taking it to the extreme. Uwe Gemballa had started out specializing in interiors but quickly developed an interest in aerodynamics and aftermarket tuning. The modification was extensive, and the mechanicals were taken care of by RUF. At its height, the 930 based Avalanche made 385 horsepower.
The Avalanche was a ridiculously expensive and flashy car. Highlights include the wide-body kits, Ferrari Testarossa style side strakes, and brand new technology like camera-based mirrors and the latest and greatest in stereo systems. Gembella toned down the looks of the Avalanche and the convertible Cyrrus model in the 1990s, but not the performance.
Porsche's Carrera GT is one for the history books. It's one of the greatest sports cars ever made and the last of the truly mechanical supercars. The technology was way ahead of its time in 2004 and is still relevant today. A massive 604 horsepower with Le Mans race car technology and a manual gearbox adds up to enthusiast heaven. Of course, some people wanted more, and Gemballa was happy to oblige. The German tuners squeezed an extra 60 hp from the engine management system, doubled the Carrera GT's tailpipes from two to four, and embellished the aerodynamics while restyling the interior.
This take on the Ferrari Enzo is one of automotive culture's great divides in opinion. To many, it's either supercar tuning done right or an absolute abomination. As far as we know, five MIG-U1 units were produced for two brothers from Dubai. The V12's power was increased from 660 hp to 700 along with a bump in torque. All the new aerodynamic body components are made from carbon-fiber, and Gembella claims the weight reduction and extra power adds up to a 0-62 mph time of 3.1 seconds. It's impressive, but in all honesty, we think Gemballa might have gritted its teeth to make the money here.
After the tragic events of 2010, Gemballa pushed for a positive year in 2011 with the Tornado and based it around the Porsche Cayenne. Aggressive carbon-fiber bodywork and four big exhaust pipes stand out at the back along with its round lights and smooth tail. The twin-turbo V8 was pushed to make 721 hp, and the chassis was upgraded with various new intakes to feed fresh air to the engine, intercoolers, and brakes. Only thirty were made for Gemballa's 30th anniversary.
The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren wasn't quite perfection. It ended up being a compromise between the brands but it's still one hell of a car. Gemballa's take is to "sharpen its claws" with an extended carbon-fiber front spoiler lip (to help deal with what Gemballa believes is a front end stability issue) and a power upgrade to 661 hp. The tuner also added a bespoke KW coil-over suspension system with comfort and sport setting along with GT Sport Forged alloy wheels. We'll let the comments section decide on the look of the wheels, but we're not convinced they've dated well.
It takes some real confidence, maybe even arrogance, to try and improve on a McLaren. Gemballa took a crack at the 12C first. On its website, Gemballa praises the McLaren 12C and its out-of-the-box performance and made sure it didn't add any extra weight whatsoever with its additions. The engineers also left the engine alone on the basis it's already perfect for the car. What Gemballa did do is add some serious aero bodywork and its GForged-one alloy wheel, which is an inch larger in diameter than the stock McLaren units, but weigh less. Because it's Gemballa, the 12C also gained a bespoke interior.
Gemballa brought the Avalanche name back for the 997 series of the Porsche 911. Along with the Avalanche name, Gemballa also brought the same level of insanity, starting with the price. Although Gemballa's brochure says that up to 671 hp is available, Avalanche's with over 800 and 709 lb-ft of torque are out there. The aero is suitably cartoonish as a nod to the original, along with the interior design - although, if you're writing the check, you decide what it looks like. Gemballa says its currently developing an Avalanche version of the current 991-generation, and we can't wait.
Gemballa touts the GTP as its practical everyday driver. Based on the Porsche Panamera, Gemballa has given it 700 hp at the stage 3 conversion, and the tuner claims it'll pop 62 mph in 3.3 seconds. The suspension has also been upgraded, although Gemballa is keen to let it be known that ride comfort hasn't been affected. Curiously, the German tuner hasn't touched the aerodynamics on the Panamera here or the interior. At some point, it seems, you really can't out-Porsche Porsche.
Gemballa is planning a hypercar. According to the tuning company, it'll have 800 horsepower and use "state-of-the-art drive and aero technology." Initially, it'll be produced with an internal combustion engine but, later on, Gemballa plans to use hybrid technology. The fact that the engineers are aiming for a 0-62 mph acceleration time of 2.5 seconds and 124 mph time of around 6.5 seconds has us excited. All we have for now is some concept artwork and production planned for 2022.