The Porsche Boxster 986 is the perfect base for a 904 inspired homage Aestec GTS
Now thanks to Aestec and its GTS, the homage is a reality. Words: Jan Horn Photography: Christoph Borries.
AN ICON REBORN 904 Road Racer Re-imagined Amazing Aestec GTS turns a 986 Boxster into a 60s road race icon
AESTEC GTS First look at and drive in Boxster 986 based 904 homage
It grabs your attention, literally. Not that the Aestec GTS should be handled excessively carefully, and that something could easily break. Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s edgy, robust and robust with all the elegance of form and with all the organic flow of its beguiling retro shape. But getting physical will have to wait, we’ll stick with the finger tips form now.
If you stroke the paint on the roof of the GTS, the finger tips report fine thread structures. This is carbon fibre, which stands out as a filigree woven layer, through the thin layer of lacquer. Given that the ’60s 904 was a study in glassfibre, then this modern interpretation is appropriate.
Inside a fine grain to the leather on the steering wheel flatters the ball of the hand. The rigid bucket seats embrace hips, back and backside.
The ignition switch is on the left, where else? Turn the key and it rumbles, vibrates in that time-honoured flat-six style, but with an ECU controlled modernity that belies its shape. The Aestec GTS is one of those rare cars that is already fascinating, without even driving a metre. Old form meets modern function. That’s the name of a sensual recipe. So, to break it down to its component parts. The look and style is Porsche’s mid-engined ’60s 904 Carrera GTS road racer. The underpinnings, though, are modern Boxster, notably the 986 iteration of 1996–2004. High class material and skilful manual work then bring the whole aesthetic into shape. That responsibility lies with Aestec, a small engineering co in the German town of Werl, in Westphalia. Aestec founder, Alex Schaferhoff takes the rolling stock of a Boxster – chassis, engine/gearbox and interior and substitutes a much lighter body, styled in homage to the 904, but in truth more of a GT than a stripped-out racer. Instead of the original roll bar of the Boxster, a welded in cage takes on protective – and supportive – duties, a spaceframe if you like.
In short this is a lighter, stiffer, more direct Boxster. Albeit one that doesn’t look like a Boxster, and with Boxster prices and availability where they are, to create this sort of retro Porsche homage seems like a no-brainer.
Having said that, this is no kit car. It’s not a bodyshell plonked onto a chassis, but a careful, hand-built construct of bonded panels and sensibly retaining the Boxster’s windscreen and doors. Helped by all new components in the chassis, to make the most of the Boxster’s complex array of struts and control arms, plus one the best modern steering set ups around and, of course, that flat-six, with its low centre of gravity… So as such, you won’t be quite so surprised to learn, that a turn key Aestec GTS could set you back 120,000 Euros.
That’s the sum of the parts. We’ve stroked the paintwork, looked at the history, waxed lyrical. Now to take a firm hand and really drive it. It’s an accurate steer. The underpinnings are not only new, but uprated, too. Firmer springs support the body, stiffer bushes and bearings pack the suspension arms and more. Brakes are strong and stronger still with less weight to arrest.
Back in the ’60s, the 904 came with a variety of engine configurations and power outputs, from flat-four, flat-six and flat-eight, with 155bhp to 240bhp.
In the modern world, the same could apply with Boxster power, 2.5-litres, 2.7-litres, 3.2-litres. Having said that, Aestec has fitted a worked on 3.4-litre motor here, with 300bhp, which with just 1260kg to motivate makes for compelling performance. Other options are 3.2-litres and 250bhp, 3.6-litres and 325bhp and, for maximum propulsion, 3.8-litres and 355bhp.
We could look at it all day, its rich burgundy bodywork, complemented by Fuchs wheel, what else, but to drive it is to really experience the Aestec GTS concept. And how does it drive? Well it would be easy to say ‘like a Boxster of course.’ And there’s no shame in that. After all it’s one of the best mid-engined chassis around, at any price.
Indeed, it’s kind of the point really. But the 986 Boxster never came with 300bhp, and the stiffened and sharper chassis creates its own dynamic, to complement the retro homage.
Congratulations to Alex Schaferoff and his team, for this reimagining of Porsche’s ’60s icon.
CONTACT: Aestec Automobiletechnik Industriestrabe 7, 59457 Werl Germany info@aestec-design aestec.de
While the original 904 was somewhat spartan, the Aestec is well trimmed and nicely appointed. It looks even better on the move. Lighter, stiffer and with 300+bhp, the Aestec GTS is a rapid road racer. Looks familiar? It should do. The 904 is one of the greatest shapes of the Porsche back catalogue.