It’s fair to say the 996 Porsche 911 is having a bit of a moment right now. From official Porsche Classic one-offs to Instagram accounts reclaiming the fried-egg moniker, people are coming around to Porsche’s late-’90s and early aughts 911 due to its blend of relative affordability, an analog driving experience, and modern creature comforts. Now, companies are building turn-key Safari kits for 996s, boosting ride height and capability while retaining the 911’s signature rear weight bias and sports-car dynamics.
Kalmar Automotive recently introduced the 996-based RS-6 as the first water-cooled model in its “Adventure Range.” The Denmark-based company is no stranger to off-road Porsche conversions, having built 964- and 993-based cars in the past. According to its website, Kalmar can also outfit your first-generation Cayman or second-gen Cayenne for rally duty.
Starting with a customer-supplied 996 in rear- or all-wheel drive, Kalmar increases ground clearance by over three inches to a total of 8.25, equaling that of a Cayenne and outdoing Porsche’s own 911 Dakar by three-quarters of an inch even in its full-height mode. Adaptive, electronically-controlled shock absorbers are also available, as is a hydraulic lift that raises ground clearance by nearly another two inches.
But this isn’t just a lift kit. Kalmar also fits a custom limited-slip differential and upgraded driveshafts for putting the power to the wheels and a stiffer strut brace to better manage lateral and vertical loads, along with special top mounts and bushings designed to cope with the stresses of off-roading. Lightweight, narrow wheels are paired with taller all-terrain or spiked winter tires, and Kalmar claims “complete underbody protection” with additional shielding for critical front-mounted cooling systems. Customers interested in off-the-grid travel can also opt for a rear-mounted rack with fuel cans and a spare tire.
Inside, Kalmar adds a rear roll cage and Recaro buckets for safety, but otherwise focuses on weight reduction with the removal of “all sound deadening materials, audio and other comfort items.” Guess you’ll be listening to gravel pelting the wheel wells and the flat-six engine—I’ve heard worse.
The company claims it chose the 996 platform because of access to “plentiful and more affordable donor cars,” which is another way of saying air-cooled prices are too damn high. In addition to providing their car, buyers will fork over at least €45,000 ($49,000) and expect to wait around six months while their car is built. That’s not cheap, but it’s a far cry from the 911 Dakar’s $223,650 base price tag before dealer markups.
Now, Kalmar isn’t the first outfit to Safari a 996—that’s the SafariProjek guys out of South Africa. The ambitious Captain Crankshaft duo also built their own on a budget this summer and documented the adventure on YouTube, which is worth a watch. But there’s something about this early narrowbody car with the runny-yolk lights in a rally livery that just works. It almost looks like it was meant to be.
I won’t be cutting up my own early 996 anytime soon, mostly because I’m indecisive and don’t have $50,000 to spare. But I like the idea of the platform being used as an accessible entry point for all kinds of wild builds. Let’s keep it weird, 996 fans.
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