Custom fabrication and a sweet green paint job are hard to resist.
There's almost nothing more satisfying than seeing a car doing something it has no business doing, especially when it's done well. Some in the Porsche community agree, and over the years, many enthusiasts have heavily modified 911s to go off-road. Known as safari 911s, the cars feature raised suspension, beefy tires, and a host of other upgrades. However, very few safari builds reach the level of detail and craftsmanship that South African Johan De Bruyn put into his 996 build, courtesy of SafariProjek. The green Porsche features numerous upgrades and custom-fabricated parts, and the result is a car that has completely stolen our hearts.
De Bruyn said the pandemic gave him time to brainstorm the project he wouldn't typically have had. As he notes, many safari builds rely on older 911 models, such as the 964 and SC, so his 996 build is quite unique. His view was that the much-maligned cars are future classics, so the time was right to approach a build.
The project started with a 996 Carrera 4S. The car's four-wheel drive and wider body made it ideal for a safari build, but as De Bruyn quickly found out, most parts and support for such cars in the community centers around the older 911 models.
To turn the 911 into a mud monster, De Bruyn and his team had to redesign the car's suspension system and custom fabricated many of the components needed to raise the ride height and provide a comfortable off-road ride. The team turned to Reiger in Europe for shocks, the same units used by some Dakar Rally teams.
The 911's bodywork had to be modified, but again, no off-the-shelf solutions existed. De Bruyn said his team used a unique foam to form the bumpers and fabricated the bronzed steel inserts. Underneath, the car carries skid plates to protect it from bumps and bangs on the trail. The brakes were left alone, and OZ racing rims were added for an authentic rally look.
The safari movement is alive and well here in the States, too. Leh Keen turns out gnarly 911 conversions from his shop in Georgia, and Porsche itself will soon be in on the game with a factory-lifted 911. The cars make relatively common appearances on auction sites, with the best selling for exorbitant sums.
Despite its reputation as a track- and backroad-killing sports car, the 911 makes a surprisingly excellent off-roader. The relative light weight and the unique balance created by its rear-engine design give the 911 a fun, tossable personality in the dirt.