The project was carried out by two Porsche dealers in the UAE to celebrate 20 years of the SUV.
To celebrate 20 years of the Cayenne, two Porsche dealers in the United Arab Emirates have been tasked with creating restomodded off-roaders from used, first-generation examples of the performance SUV. The results do not disappoint.
The company's first-ever SUV is particularly significant to the UAE and the greater Middle East, as it attracted an entirely new customer base to the Porsche brand. In recognition of the E1 generation, Porsche Center Dubai and Porsche Center Abu Dhabi were challenged to customize an entire fleet of vehicles.
Both teams faced a challenge before the restomodding could commence - sourcing good-condition vehicles. The rules required the cars to be Gulf Cooperation Council specification, and each Cayenne seen here had to go through the rigorous Porsche Approved pre-owned vehicle inspection.
"They've all been through the workshop and required quite a lot of work, which you would expect from cars that are 17 to 20 years old," said Darren Abel, brand manager at Porsche Center Abu Dhabi.
As you can see, these vehicles weren't built to look pretty. The eight Cayennes were put through their paces by media members who traversed the UAE's most challenging terrain. Over the weekend of 26-27 November, the octet will be displayed at the Icons of Porsche festival alongside the latest iteration of the SUV.
This little project has renewed interest in the original Cayenne, with Abel noting customers are hoping to purchase the kitted-out vehicles. Mark Sinclair, general manager of Porsche Centre Dubai and the Northern Emirates, shared a similar sentiment.
"One of the cars we bought from a customer, who asked why we wanted to buy it," said Sinclair. "We explained our plans to modify and upgrade it, and he said it sounded like a car he might like, so he asked if we'd consider selling it back to him after the Icons of Porsche event is finished. I think he's found a renewed love for his E1 Cayenne."
His team purchased three Cayenne S models and a desirable GTS variant and transformed them for off-road use. "We've modified by focusing on underbody protection and ground clearance. We didn't need to touch anything mechanical because this model is competent when it comes to the drivetrain." The first-gen Cayenne was arguably over-engineered and is the only one that came standard with a low-range transfer case.
Porsche Center Dubai added spacers to the wheels, providing the vehicles with a more aggressive stance, while modified bumper bars were fitted for additional ground clearance.
Sinclair also turned to the Porsche Tequipment catalog and fitted a roof tent to one of the multi-purpose Porsche SUVs.
"The result is a much stronger look, but the whole project involved a lot of tiny and constant tweaking, realigning, and final adjusting to make the cars look just right. It was all great fun and has been a really exciting project to work on," he added.
Over at Porsche Center Abu Dhabi, the team wanted to demonstrate how well the first-generation Cayenne has aged since its introduction. As such, aesthetic revisions were kept to a minimum. Save for the motorsport-inspired graphics and a roof tent, the vehicles were fitted with 18-inch limited edition Porsche Classic wheels, painted in black.
"We've also put a rear spare wheel carrier on them, which meant we had to make a holder to attach the spare wheel. I think both teams have enjoyed modifying them and giving the E1 a new lease of life," added Abel.
This exercise has cast a spotlight on the original Cayenne and reiterated just what an incredible piece of engineering it is. Unlike many comparable SUVs of the time, the Porsche could tackle an off-road course with the authority of a Range Rover but also handled with the panache of an E53 X5.
In its 20th year, the Cayenne nameplate has proven very successful for the Zuffenhausen-based marque, and many believe it to be the brand's savior. As Porsche continues to celebrate its first-ever SUV, the automaker has shared exciting insights into the development of the Cayenne.
Not many people know that Porsche had plans to introduce a luxury minivan, but, thankfully, this idea was scrapped, and the company elected to pursue an SUV instead. We expect the Cayenne to stick around for quite some time and won't be surprised to see it adopt electric power sometime soon.