Nordic Combined

Feeling blue. With 382 PS from a displacement of four litres, a Sooner can easily hold its own on the race track, but most will probably be found in an urban environment.

We Porsche enthusiasts all have our favourite era, whether it is the air-cooled variants, the F models, G models, the long-bonnet types the 964 or the 993 series. Whichever it is, we would like to have one and would also drive it, wouldn’t we? However, it is increasingly difficult to use some early models for everyday driving, not to mention the risk of damaging an unrestored original vehicle. In addition, we have now become accustomed to a whole host of features that we would no longer want to do without even in old vehicles.

That is where the so-called retrobuilds come in, conversions of modern 911 vehicles to the look of earlier models, but equipped with modern technology. Now please do not leave straight away. I understand your reservations (“That is no longer a proper Porsche”; “They are just showing off”). But in the end, we are all interested in preserving that what makes a Porsche a Porsche. It is about the pleasure of ownership and driving, and yes also the pleasure of sharing such a car with others. And if a retrobuild gives us all this and more, then why not? In recent years, a number of companies have dedicated themselves to this flourishing market, led by Singer Vehicle Design in Los Angeles.

But what if Porsche was to build its own retrobuild using mainly genuine OEM Porsche parts? Of course, it is not quite exactly like that here, but as good as. For some time now, a car with the name “Sooner” from the Porsche Classic Center Norway has been causing a stir. Yes, you read that correctly. The Porsche Classic Center in Son is the official manufacturer of one of the most exciting models of this type. So exciting that we made our way to Scandinavia to find out more about the Sooner. Son is a small town around 30 minutes south of Oslo in the Akershus region. A motorway with a speed limit of 110 km/h leads from the Norwegian capital to one of three Porsche Classic Centers in the world (the two others are in Gelderland in the Netherlands and in Reims in France). The founders Olsen and Egil Haugen started selling used Porsche cars here in Son 27 years ago, before becoming official Porsche dealers in 2010.

Blue whale. Even if many customer want a look in the style of the F model, Olsen emphasises that Porsche Son does not build copies

But today we want to find out more about the Sooner. The name is a play on words based on the old name of the town, which used to be written Soon, and the English word ‘soon’. Every Sooner starts as a 964 model, which is stripped down completely to the body. Espen Olsen grins from ear to ear. “When I say completely, that is exactly what I mean. Most customers want more than just a 964 which looks like an early F model. Everything goes, and only genuine Porsche parts are used wherever possible. Our customers put together their dream Porsche just like they have always imagined.”

“Most customers want more than just a 964 which looks like an early F model.”
Espen Olsen

The tall Norwegian does not just leave it at that. His latest model, a Maritime Blue Sooner 4.0 is standing in front of his 2,000 m² hall made of steel and glass – a customer vehicle that is almost ready to be handed over. “Every Sooner is built to order,” confirms Olsen. “When we start building the car, the customer has already looked in detail at all the possibilities for personalisation.” As an official Porsche Classic Center, the Norwegians naturally provide a full warranty for their work, because the vast majority of all parts used are genuine Porsche parts. Having said that, Olsen’s men are now and then willing to add one or the other detail that never existed in Zuffenhausen.

Construction of a Sooner starts with stripping, or “resetting to zero” as Olsen’s team call it. The basic vehicle is restored to its original condition and all modifications that have been added during the course of its life are reversed. At the same time, any body modifications that the customer has ordered are already prepared at this stage. Sooner cars are available with 3.8-litre and 4.0-litre boxer engines. Every new project involves new challenges. “While we are already cooking in the kitchen, our menu outside is getting longer all the time,” laughs Olsen.

Old meets new. Only genuine Porsche parts wherever possible – that is the motto for the Norwegian conversions

Like most cars, our test car also began its life as a 964 model from the end of the 90s. The customer, a successful manager from Oslo, wanted to combine everyday usability with the classic look of the early 70s. The body conversions were carried out completely in steel, while the bumpers at the front and rear and the “duck tail” are the Norwegians’ own creations. “We would like to make clear that we do not build 1:1 copies of old Porsche models, but meet customer wishes,” assures Espen. “Our customers fulfil their dreams with these cars after decades of passion for the brand.”

“The look can be as conspicuous or unobtrusive as they want.”
Espen Olsen

The engine in the Sooner is the four-litre variant with a bore of 102 mm and a stroke lengthened to 80.4 mm. Porsche Son specifies the power output as 382 PS at 7,000 rpm and the torque as an impressive 420 Nm at 5,500 rpm. The six-speed transmission is from a later 993. At the front, the 9×17-inch wheels are fitted with 225/45 17 tyres, while the 10×17-inch wheels at the rear have wide 275/40 17 tyres. The running gear is completed by Bilstein PSS10 shock absorbers and brakes with 322 mm brake discs at the front and 288 mm discs at the rear with Porsche 4-piston brakes. “That is another reason why our customers choose a Sooner,” says Olsen. “The look can be as conspicuous or unobtrusive as they want, while the technology underneath the bodywork is designed to easily cope with everyday use or driving on the race track.” Here in Norway, it has to be the race track, because it is not possible otherwise to experience the top speed of 309 km/h here.

For us today, it is not about the top speed or the acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds. We want to experience the Sooner in its natural “habitat”. The interior of this latest conversion is a mixture of the familiar 70s look and modern details requested by the customer. The seats are covered with braided white leather, while the side sections, door panel surrounds and dashboard are in contrasting blue. There is a beautifully integrated roll cage which is covered with the same blue leather and is therefore hardly noticeable. The instruments are classic Porsche, and the retro navigation system also blends perfectly into the new surroundings.

A collection of instruments. The cockpit look was changed completely to the F model; the green dials are the only conventional detail remaining

The sound is an exciting mixture of bright metallic boxer sound and an unexpectedly deep burbling. Our car is not yet ready for delivery so we need more revs than initially expected when moving off so as not to stall it. How do I know that? Well… once moving, this one-off vehicle can be driven in a strikingly normal way. The clutch and gearshift are typically easy to use. In the city, our photographer Marius Viken, who usually earns his living with food and fashion photography, keeps sending us out into the increasingly dense morning traffic of the metropolis. The steering is smooth, and the brakes have precision and bite.

For our city pictures, we venture ever further into the pedestrian-only areas of the fashionable Oslo “Barcode” quarter – which gets its name because the skyline really looks like a barcode. We are most surprised by the social acceptance of this car, also during short excursions on pavements and cycle paths in order to reach our locations. Instead of hearing from passers-by in front of a café that it is really not the done thing to drive such a car into pedestrian precincts, older people too get out their smartphones and quickly strike up a conversation with us.

In the end it is clear to me who buys this kind of Sooner. In Norway in particular, such a combination of social acceptance and the pleasure from the unexpected mix of old look and new technology is a quite attractive offering – for those who can afford it. Espen Olsen and his team ask for around 350,000 euros plus VAT for this Sooner, but as the saying goes, if you have to ask about the price…

Porsche Sooner 4.0 Technical specifications

Engine: Six-cylinder boxer
Displacement: 3,940 cm³
Mixture formation: mechanical Fuel injection
Ignition: Transistor ignition
Maximum power output: 382 PS (281 kW) at 7,000 rpm
Wheelbase: 2,272 mm
Top speed: approx. 304 km/h


Text first published in the magazine „Porsche Klassik 16“.

Author: Axel E. Catton

Photos: Marius Viken 

Copyright: The image and sound published here is copyright by Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Germany or other individuals. It is not to be reproduced wholly or in part without prior written permission of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG. Please contact for further information.