First-gen Porsche Cayenne gets off-road makeovers in the Middle East

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This year marks the 20th anniversary of the car that changed Porsche's fortunes. Three years after the 996-series 911 showed just how low the 911 could go (and this writer likes the 996), the Cayenne entered production in 2002, its money-minting sales ensuring the 911 could become the awesome-in-every-trim sports car we know today. As part of the celebrations, the German home office asked Porsche Middle East and Africa FZE to create a range of custom Cayenne builds for the Icons of Porsche Fest held in Dubai over the weekend. The region's two importers in the United Arab Emirates each bought four first-gen Cayennes, that task apparently being the hardest part of the effort. Finding "good condition, relatively standard" Cayennes in the region's Gulf Cooperation Council spec, in an area of the world that loves to flog a good off-roader, took some effort.


After sourcing eight examples from the 2007 to 2010 model years, the importers put each SUV through the same process used for Porsche Approved certification. Then came the upfit. Naturally, that included quite a few lift kits, dirt-focused tires, roof racks, exterior wheel carriers for spares, light bars, a rooftop tent, and some special liveries. A fair bit of the gear came from Porsche's growing parts catalog. The automaker's been pushing outdoorsy Cayenne builds for years now, last year announcing Porsche Performance Parts for its used vehicles, the Tequipment and Porsche Classic divisions creating new components specifically for off-roading and overlanding. The white #11 Cayenne with the Porsche Tequipment rooftop tent sits on 18-inch powercoated, matte-black Porsche Classic wheels with a laser-engraved Porsche logo. Three of the liveries are retail decal packages: Adventure, in Guards Red; Rallye, in Ice Race Blue; and Hunt, in Hunting Car Olive. Porsche Classic will be adding more off-road parts in 2023.

After running the fleet through the red dirt of the Hatta region then putting it on display, the rigs will likely find homes in pristine garages. One of the importers said they bought a Cayenne from a customer who asked what the importer planned to do with it. The importer said, "We explained our plans to modify and upgrade it and he said it sounded like a car he might like, so asked if we’d consider selling it back to him after the Icons of Porsche event is finished."

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