Porsche owners are known to have some pretty strong opinions about their favorite tuning companies. Different shops have wildly different approaches to the technical and aesthetic facets of Porsche restoration. Some have elevated the process to nothing less than a genuine art form.
Choosing the right tuning company for your Porsche is matter of performance, taste, and budget. As you might expect, many of the best Porsche tuning and restoration shops are in the company’s homeland of Germany. But not to worry, there is a vibrant and extremely talented stateside community of Porsche tuners and restorers to choose from.
We’ve picked out some of the best Porsche tuners in the United States. While many shops are concentrated in the Golden State of California, there are master Porsche craftsmen on both coasts and in the heartland. No matter your particular tastes or preferences, these guys will provide you with a top-quality aftermarket Porsche.
The Best Porsche Tuners in California
1. BBi Autosport
Huntington Beach, California
BBi Autosport approaches Porsche tuning as a fine art, one that requires taste and craft in addition to technical and mechanical skills. Founded in 2005 by Betim Berisha, BBi employs factory-trained technicians with 35+ years of professional racing experience. Their performance record speaks for itself. In 2019, a BBi Porsche was named Fastest German Car in the 6-Speed 997 GT2 at ShiftS3ctor ½ mile event, reaching 206 mph. In the same year, a BBi GT2 RS VMax became the fastest ever 991 and fastest 911 with stock engines at the Sun Valley Tour de Force, reaching 226.95 mph.
All BBi parts are tailored to specific vehicles. If you drive a 996 GT2, for example, BBi offers a billet coolant pipe kit that, compared to factory parts, exhibits superior metallurgy that allows for stronger, higher quality welds. For the 991.1 Turbo, BBi has a special intake plenum, a high flow air filter, and their Akrapovič Slip-On Line exhaust for reduced weight and added handling. These examples only scratch the surface of what BBi offers for every Porsche owner.
BBi offers the DAS (Dealer Alternative Service) program, in which they provide comprehensive major and minor services for all Porsche models. This includes tire-mounting, balance and rotation, oil services, etc. BBi also does suspension engineering, engine building and development, performance braking systems, and works equally well with street and race cars. If you visit the shop in Huntington Beach, you might even run into Betim himself, who has been known to cut great deals for customers with limited budgets.
Inside the BBi shop. Source: Total 911.
We spoke with Dmitriy Orlov, COO and Technical Director at BBi. “What sets us apart,” Dmitriy said, is BBi’s ability “to push the envelope, perfect, and innovate.” This is reflected “in our projects and race efforts though out-of-the-box thinking, innovation and validated by our success.” While he noted that “there are other players in our market that offer some of the same services or products, we strive to set our own goals, keep our own high standards and look forward to further innovation, new technologies, and obstacles to overcome. We obsess over details and all of our work, small or large, shows that.” Dimitry also referenced Henry Ford’s famous line: “quality is doing it right when no one is looking.” “That one quote sums up our MO quite well,” he concluded.
When asked what particular BBi service he wanted to emphasize, Dmitriy noted that “our engine program is highly under marketed. We have decades of experience with air-cooled to water-cooled Porsche engines. We’ve been working hard to perfect some of the Mezger engines for either high output natural aspirated applications or super high HP forced induction. We have a program for the 991 engines and now even understand the latest GT3 RS powerplant. We keep pushing the limits of newer engines and we keep working on infusing new technology into older engines. We can address almost any issue and meet virtually any target within mechanical reason.”
Sources: BBi Autosport; interview conducted with BBi COO Dmitriy Orlov (05/26/2020).
2. Shark Werks
Situated in the Bay Area of Northern California, Shark Werks was founded Porsche enthusiast Alex Ross and mechanic James Hendry, along with entrepreneurs Joan Wood and Daniel Kennedy. They do software tuning, exhaust, suspension, exterior, and pretty much any other kind of modification or enhancement you could think of. Whereas other shops might work with a variety of different brands, Shark Werks is entirely focused on Porsche.
Dan Kennedy told us how Shark Werks’s focus on Porsche sets them apart from the competition. “Shark Werks has always focused exclusively on new Porsche models, avoiding older air-cooled cars, other German brands, or other sports cars,” Kennedy told us. “Most other competitors will also sell parts for Audis, vintage Porsches, Hondas, etc. By focusing on just one specific type of car, we can really specialize in that narrow list of models and understand more [about Porsches] than most other shops.” Dan also wanted to highlight that Shark Werks can do “a complete overhaul of a GT3’s engine, transmission, suspension.”
Let’s say you drive a GT3 996. They offer engine upgrades such as their Road Sport Supply tarmac engine mounts for improved overall feedback and reduced motion. These are ideal for Porsche owners looking to maximize precision handling and control. If you drive a Cayenne or Panamera, Shark Werks offers an “Innovative Pro Design” (IPD) plenum with great bolt-on power, an accentuated diversion area, and large inlet openings for increasing intake air speed and improving intake air turbulence.
Their web page includes a full catalogue of their project cars and enhancements made. For example, they took a grey 2012 991 Carrera S and gave it an aggressive Type II rear wing, their Type I front spoiler, side skirts, and rear diffusor. See below for before and after shots.
The 2012 911 Carrera, just getting started with its makeover.
The finished product, with all the TECHART enhancements. Source: Shark Werks.
3. Singer Vehicle Design
San Fernando Valley, California
Singer Vehicle Design is the brainchild of Rob Dickinson, a musician turned car designer originally from Norfolk, England. After cutting a few records with the band Catherine Wheel and as a solo artist, Dickenson decided to chase his passion for Porsches and founded Singer in 2009. He named the company both as an homage to renowned Porsche engineer Norbert Singer and as a sly nod to his own musical past.
Whereas some shops primarily do parts and installation, Singer works on complete car models. Their most famous product is a reimagined Porsche 911. Notable modifications include: (1) carbon fiber panels replacing the original bodywork; (2) the typical Porsche 964 hood is replaced with the longer hood of a 911 classic; and (3) relocated fuel and oil filler caps to emulate the iconic air-cooled Porsche race cars. True to Singer’s rock music roots, their custom 911 includes a special orange tachometer that displays values up to 11, à la the famous scene from This is Spinal Tap. The end result is a car that fuses modern, top-quality German engineering with a truly classic, analog-hero aesthetic. For the full story of Singer’s Porsche 911 design, check out their One More than 10 book and media compilation.
A Porsche 911 from Singer.
Sources: Singer Vehicle Designs.
The Best Porsche Tuners Across the U.S.
1. AWE Tuning
AWE Tuning is all about in-house products designed to maximize Porsche performance. Founded in 1991 and with its headquarters just outside of Philadelphia, AWE prototypes, tests, manufactures, and distributes its own brand of performance products across the globe. AWE makes award-winning exhaust systems, carbon fiber intakes, and performance intercoolers, just to name a few.
The AWE Tuning headquarters in Horsham, PA.
Of particular note is AWE’s 180 Technology® exhaust system (patent pending). This tech consists of a resonator that takes in exhaust gases and distributes them through strategically located ports and into special reflection chambers. Sound waves propagating through these gases bounce off the walls of the reflection chambers before rejoining the main exhaust flow. Now here’s the cool part: the ports and chambers are designed such that the reflected sound waves are exactly 180º out of phase with the main exhaust sound waves. The waves cancel each other out through basically the same principle employed by noise-cancelling headphones. “The sound produced by this formula,” AWE’s website claims, “is the perfect, signature note” worthy of a luxury vehicle.
The vast majority of AWE’s engineering products are distributed to dealers around the world. However, if you’re local, you can have the work done in-house at their state-of-the-art HQ in Horsham, PA. notable services they offer include exhaust installation, engine performance, suspension upgrades and alignments, performance software, and wheel mounting and balancing. While they’re committed to performance first and foremost, AWE is more than capable of providing aesthetic upgrades such as diffusers, side skirts, and exterior lighting. For their full range of in-house services, click here.
Sources: AWE Tuning.
2. Collector Car Showcase
Oyster Bay, New York
Collector Car Showcase is famous amongst east coast Porsche owners for their gProgramm restoration service. Envisioned specifically for G-Body 911s made from 1973 to 1989, gProgramm is the full package: chassis and body; engine and transmission; suspension, brakes, and wheels; and interior and leather.
A Porsche 911 after going through the gProgramm. Source: gprogramm.com.
They begin by disassembling the bodywork and media-blasting the shell to treat it for rust prevention. The chassis undergoes a full reconstruction and repaint. The engine is then completely disassembled and blueprinted, balanced, and rebuilt by hand. You have the option for a 3.2- or 3.4-liter engine, single or twin plug electronic fuel injection, a center twin exhaust, stainless heat exchangers, or numerous other features.
The suspension tune-up retains the factory torsion bar and Bilstein shock absorbers but includes an optional “Leistung” (German for “performance” or “power”) package with adjustable coil-over spring damper units and upgraded bushings, drop-links, and front/rear sway bars. Finally, the leather interior is completely overhauled. They give you options for 30 different vintage Porsche colors from 1950–1973, a single or two-tone color interior, power or manual windows, a hidden twin USB jack for your phone or other device, and a polished and exposed 915 transmission base with the classic wooden knob.
This restoration will run somewhere between $200,000 and $260,000. However, for those that can afford it, gProgramm is without a doubt a fantastic deal.
3. ROCS Motorsport
Belleville, New Jersey
ROCS is a hotrod build shop that offers a wide variety of “art car” designs. Most important for our purposes is their Outlaw series, which features several backdated Porsche 911 builds. These include, but are not limited to, the ROCS Panamericana, Staten Island, New Jersey (1, 2, and 3), and the Mule (pictured below). The ROCS Hollywood, a 993 backdate, is coming soon. All their designs have a rugged, Springsteen-esque vibe to suit their New Jersey roots.
The ROCS Mule 1987 G50 backdate, in all its ragged glory.
Flatsixes.com describes one of their models, the ROCS Restomod 911, as “the antithesis of Singer” and “positively satanic.” Like Singer, ROCS combines the classic look of a vintage Porsche with modern components and body lines. They customize their Porsches to fit an imagined, hyper-stylized vision of the past: not what things were actually like back then, but what they should have been like. In contrast to Singer’s sleek and pristine restomodders, ROCS imagines a past full of equal parts grit and glory.
Don’t think that they only care about aesthetics. ROCS is more than capable of rebuilding engines and gearboxes, tightening up the suspension, or any number of other services to optimize performance. However, because they are strictly a build shop, they do not provide general repairs or service work.
4. Metalkraft Coachwerkes
Metalkraft, as the name suggests, specializes in coach building and custom metal work for Porsche and European cars more generally. They approach metal work as an art form in which functionality and aesthetics are melded together in harmony.
Run by mechanic Mark Schlachter, Metalkraft is a body shop that gives customers exactly what they want. They can give your Porsche a new paint job, a through-the-hood gas cap (their trademark), or a complete chassis rebuild.