TOTAL911 REVIEW 911Rennsport
Paul Cockell, managing director of Rennsport, admits that he still gets his hands dirty. After all, he got into the business because he enjoys building cars and, as such, Rennsport is a natural continuation of over 25 years working on air-cooled 911s.
After serving his apprenticeship at a Porsche main dealer in 1986, Paul went to work with Mike Jordan and Team Eurotech and this experience began a journey that has led to Rennsport’s newly opened, purpose-built factory.
The facility is the stuff of garage-fanatics’ dreams: spotlessly clean, the two-floor engineering premises occupies what should be three plots on a new business estate on the outskirts of Moreton-in- Marsh in the UK’s Cotswolds.
If that location sounds vaguely familiar then you’d be right, as Porsche Club GB’s HQ is visible from the large windows on the second floor of Rennsport’s spectacular new building.
It was designed by Rennsport’s chairman, Keith Cockell, Paul’s father. Keith, like Paul, has a career that’s had a foot in both the motor and building industry. Working for Chrysler Europe, Keith was responsible for design, creating the Alpine, Talbot Tagora and Sunbeam – a car which, in Lotus guise, won the 1981 World Rally Championship.
On leaving the motor industry, Keith created a property business building luxury homes and retirement communities. It’s this insight that’s helped to create Rennsport’s bespoke workshops.
Looking over the balcony at a number of 911s mid-build, it’s clear that Rennsport is busy. Paul’s target is to turn cars around in just three months or so, driven by the demand of its ever-increasing customer base.
Rennsport seems to eschew the more traditional laissez-faire route of restoration and bespoke build, giving customers the cars they want exactly at the time they want it. “People are prepared to wait, but 18 months or a year is simply too long,” says Paul.
It’s important that the customers get a car they will use, as Paul confirms: “If you’re after a Sunday car to take your wife out for lunch, then a blood orange and ducktailed RS replica perhaps isn’t the right car, so we’d suggest a more subtle colour and classic look.”
“If it’s for trackdays then fine, go for a viper green or tangerine, or even a Turbo, but I’m not going to put someone in one if they’re not going to use it,” says Paul.
Rennsport focuses entirely on air-cooled 911s, as it is Paul’s particular specialism and passion. It bases its recreations on cars from the late 1970s though to the 964s up to 1992, encompassing 930 Turbos too.
Paul admits that some of the purists might baulk at the thought of taking a perfectly good 3.0-litre SC or 3.2 Carrera and backdating it, but Paul says there are plenty of cars out there that he can use.
Prices for donor cars have risen in the past couple of years in particular, but Rennsport always has cars in stock ready to be built into exactly what its customers want; whether that’s one of their 2.7 RS recreations, a wide body 930 RSR or anything else they desire.
Costs vary, but around £100,000 will get you a fully built car including the donor car cost. The 930s will be a bit more, thanks to the greater expense involved in sourcing a basis, but the costs remain entirely reasonable.
Each car gets stripped to the bare metal for a nut-and-bolt rebuild. Only metal wings are used, Rennsport keeping four local body shops busy preparing and painting cars.
Keith looks wistfully at a vacant plot nearby and suggests the natural progression would be to build their own body shop, as sending cars out for paint only slows the build process.
Given the rate of growth in the last few years, you’d be brave to bet against a bespoke body shop arriving soon. Obviously, all the skills required to build its detailed, back-dated cars are transferable to resto work, and Rennsport is able to take on anything from a technical check to a full-on restoration.
As a case in point, a customer’s 3.2 Carrera Clubsport is currently awaiting Rennsport’s attention to take it from near perfect to totally perfect.
That growth has seen Rennsport expanding from what was just Paul and head of recreations and motorsports projects, Gordon Wardle, to a company of more than ten staff.
Like Paul, Gordon’s background encompasses decades of experience, building race and championship-winning Porsches both in the UK and abroad, with many awards to back up his exacting engineering including Porsche Club GB Motorsport’s Highest Standard of Preparation Award.
Like any business, Rennsport is only as good as the people it employs, Paul telling us: “I’ll only employ people who want to come to work, not because they have to come to work.”
This remit is obvious in what Rennsport is creating, as the completed cars parked in and around the OPC-like facility are all impeccably finished. The slate grey ‘McQueen’ car gets my attention, and Paul admits that they’ve built around five similar specifications – with one customer trading in a 997 GT3.
“That’s a gentleman’s car,” Keith says. “Technically, it’s inferior to that GT3 in pure engineering terms, but it’s a 911 that people will really appreciate, it’s an enthusiast’s car.”
For many it’s as much about the build – the journey – as it is the finished 911. The entire process, from deciding on specification, is deemed an experience not to miss for Rennsport’s clientele, to the point where even if, like in the case of that slate grey car, there’s a turnkey car in stock, customers still decide to have one built for themselves.
Paul is also emphatic that he’ll give a customer a return of 100 per cent on their spend if they want to sell, also offering a no-quibble warranty on any car that Rennsport builds.
“We put that little bit extra into every car. We don’t make as much money as we should as a result, but we know it’s right”, says Paul. Affordability seems to be core to the company’s make-up, and Paul is clear on pricing from the outset of a build, creating cars that people can not only afford to buy, but use. It’s not surprising to hear that many Rennsport owners have real RSs in their garages, but their value limits use. For them and others, Rennsport offers choice. It may not appeal to all, admittedly, but there is clearly a buoyant market out there for the sort of beautifully built, individually specified classic 911s that Rennsport can deliver. Company Directors: Keith and Paul CockellFirst opened: April 2015Location: Moreton-in-Marsh, UKSpecialist area of expertise: Air-cooled 911s and RS recreationsMost bizarre project: A full nut and bolt restoration of a Porsche tractor – it is located upstairs in the Rennsport showroomInteresting fact about the business: Keith and Paul have an extensive history in both the motoring and motorsport industries