It’s difficult to put into words the feeling as you lay eyes on parts that will one day be shaped by a man whose work you’ve followed and admired for years.
I get the chills and it’s not from the cold, late October air. I am dropping off brake and suspension upgrades sourced through Achtuning for Christian’s newest addition to his amazing car collection, a 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera 2. Christian offers me a drink and hands me my first bottle of Jack Black’s Dead Red Root Beer and we toast in celebration of exciting times ahead, standing in silence while reflecting on the moment and taking it all in. Images I had saved over the years of these animated wide-body Porsche 911s from Japan flashed in my mind as I recalled the many stories and videos describing the man behind it all – Akira Nakai, Rauh Welt Begriff… And he was coming to Seattle!
Fast forward to the middle of November and I return to Christian’s home with more suspension parts in hand, the last few pieces needed to tidy up the 911 just days before Nakai-san’s arrival. Anticipation, to say the least, is at its highest. The car has just returned from Phantasy Kolors where Christian had the car painted Sapphire Blue Metallic, a color selected by Nakai-san himself from Porsche’s 918 color palette. Only a handful of us have seen it in person at this point. The RWB bumpers, flares, side skirts, and wing are also painted and set aside in preparation for the build. Christian makes room in his already crowded garage and positions the 911 where it will sit until its transformation is complete. I stand next to him in the driveway for a brief moment and stare into the garage before heading home for the night. The stage is set and the next few days are going to be unreal! After saying goodnight I get into my car and begin to drive away. One last look back and I notice Christian is still standing there, staring. I can’t help but smile… I am happy for him and absolutely thrilled to have the rare privilege to witness it all unfold.
I once thought I would have to go back home to Japan to see a Rauh Welt Begriff Porsche in person. That all changed when an outfit in California asked Nakai-san to come to the States to build one. Next thing we know, 2 RWB 911s make a public debut at the 2011 SEMA Show while a 3rd is spotted rolling around the Vegas strip. Sadly, we didn’t make it to SEMA (again) but the online coverage of the US cars propelled the brand further into the automotive mainstream while putting RWB that much closer within our reach. 3 more 911s would receive the personal RWB treatment in North America before I hear from Christian that Nakai-san would be returning to the US to build lucky #7, “Meguri-Ai” – Seattle’s first RWB!
It’s November 17th – build day. It’s a cold and rainy day, quite fitting for Seattle’s first RWB. A text message from Christian confirms this isn’t all a dream… Jamie and I really are about to experience this rare, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We rush out the door as quickly as we can and arrive at Christian’s by mid-morning. A coffee table and chairs are set up in front of the car and Nakai-san is sitting down with cigarette in hand. I set the Starbucks Coffee Traveler we brought our hosts down on the coffee table in front of him and nervously make an introduction. After a brief hello he finishes his cigarette and goes back to work while we join Christian and friends and start watching in amazement.
I notice Nakai-san already has the 911’s new front bumper installed and it doesn’t take long before he fires up the air compressor and body saw and starts cutting into the freshly painted fenders.
Once the stock fenders are removed he positions his wider arches on the 911’s body and shapes the new fiber glass parts with a belt sander to ensure a snug fit. Placement is determined carefully by eye using only an old measuring tape, no fancy tools or templates. Every now and then he sits back while smoking his cigarette and focuses on the car from a distance, going over the lines and making sure everything looks and fits just right.
Christian and Nakai-san talking details about ride height.
Nakai-san still playing it cool while showing us a softer side and clowning around a little, seen here smoking his cigarette with one of the hollow aluminum body panel braces.
By the end of the day all 4 wide body parts are attached and the 911 begins to take its a new shape.
The next morning I am invited to join Christian, his wife Kit, Nakai-san and a some of Christian’s friends for breakfast. Just minutes before I arrive I get a call from Christian asking if there is room in the CC for him, Kit, and Nakai-san. Jamie unfortunately had to work on day 2 and was unable to join us so I was honored to chauffeur them and “the boss” to breakfast. Sharing a table and meal with the legend is one thing. But my day is made when Nakai-San gives me a thumbs up in approval as he checks out the CC during a post-meal smoke. “Good styling”, he says. We drive back to Christian’s and Nakai-san goes right back to it!
Side skirts are installed first and then the rear bumper. You can begin to visualize what the car is going to look like when complete.
Trimming the length of the side skirt, free-hand!
With most of the new body panels attached Nakai-san gets to work on getting those insanely wide 18×11 front and 18×13 rear Work wheels under the new arches. The master of stance is noted for the paper-thin contactless clearance between tire and body panels. The wheels are installed and removed several times while he adjusts the ride height on the H&R RSS coil-overs. The process is repeated until Nakai-san is satisfied.
By dinner time Meguri-Ai is on the ground and sitting proper. The ride height is perfect and the top of the tires are just barely tucking those wide arches. The “Champion Wing” is installed and completes the RWB kit.
Just before the end of Day 2 Nakai-san pulls out the Rauh Welt windshield banner, a sign the build is nearing completion.
Very few people in the world have had this amazing and rare opportunity to experience a build like this. From a car enthusiast’s perspective this tops the charts. Some may not understand, accept, or appreciate Nakai-san’s RWB styling and creations and they don’t have to. It makes it that much more unique and special for the few who do. We happened to be in the right place at the right time. It was truly a “chance encounter” and an experience we will never forget. To Christian and Nakai-san we say a sincere “Thank you!” for allowing us to take part and witness the creation of the first (and we hear not last!) Seattle Rauh Welt Begriff Porsche 911!