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Safari Build: 1980 Porsche 911

Air-cooled Porsches are increasingly becoming a source of equal-parts scorn and desire. We don’t need to discuss the ongoing increase in prices, but this very phenomenon has led to some folks questioning whether the run-up is justified. Sure, the 911 is a great car, but is it that great? It’s a valid question. Still, that hasn’t stopped enthusiasts from finding other ways to add value, with the over-the-top Singer conversions at the very tip of the food chain, all the way down to owners like this one converting their 911 into a safari build. Check out this 1980 Porsche 911 here on eBay with an asking price of $69,500 and the option to submit a best offer.

If you spend any amount of time on various social media channels (and if you don’t, good for you!), you’ll see that there’s been a trend towards making sports cars do more than they were ever intended to do: camping, long-distance road trips, and more, all of it generally an offshoot of the overlanding movement. Now, overlanding is an awesome hobby, made even better with the integration of a vintage 4×4 or other 4WD vehicle (there are plenty of a wagons with four wheel drive and lifted suspensions that make overlanding possible.) In the air-cooled world, the fact that Porsche campaigned a 959 rally car in the grueling Paris-Dakar series has seemingly given some owners permission to convert their 911 to off-road use.

While this has led to many owners simply bolting a roof rack on and installing some all-terrain tires and thus declaring they have an off-road capable 911, plenty others have gone the route of this seller, making numerous modifications that really do transform your garden-variety 911 into something completely different. This car comes with a lifted Bilstein suspension, all-terrain tires, skid plates, a light pod, a Rennline bump steer kit, and extended rear shocks. The seller claims there are receipts showing $22,000 in additional reconditioning was done before he took ownership of it. Overall, there’s been a ton of money thrown at this 911, but most of it was in what likely included an engine rebuild given the previous invoices, likely making it ready for regular road-going use – but not off-road use.

The 188 b.h.p., 3.0L flat-six engine bay is nicely detailed, and combined with the disclosure that the body was also previously repainted, it makes me wonder why such a car was built for going off-road. The name of the game in getting the most amount of money possible for your air-cooled 911 is to keep it as stock as possible, with some exceptions given for subtle suspension and tire upgrades. I suspect the off-road fad will wear off, as it’s really best left to Porsche to make such cars (and it has – the new 911 Dakar starts at $222,000). And if you truly want to go overlanding, buy a rig with sufficient ride height from the factory. But so long as the fascination and obsession with air-cooled 911s continues, I doubt we’ll see much of a reversal in the trends towards trying to improve an already ideal recipe.


  1. Avatar photo bobhess Member

    Not sure I care for converting a perfectly good car into an off road racer. I have one of the original posters with the factory’s late ’60s rally car and while it looks like fun I wouldn’t cut one up to build one. Also Jeff, I can assure you that Porsches are great long distance, cross country cars and in some cases have plenty of space for camping gear. Some of the times when we camped going cross country to go to the annual PCA Porsche Parade we had to put the potatoes in the engine compartment, but other than that they worked out fine.

    Like 16
    • Avatar photo alphasud Member

      I’m with you Bob and part of me can’t wait for this Porsche bubble to burst so these cars can continue to enjoyed by the masses. The safari build is just a new fad that also started with the Touareg/Cayenne vehicles. I cautioned one owner of a 2010 Cayenne Turbo S to leave it stock. I was so glad I wasn’t talked into doing all the suspension mods. He had nothing but problems with having the vehicle towed several times due to someone else’s “engineering” the factory got it right the first time.

      Like 10
  2. Avatar photo Aussie Dave Member

    Totally agree with the above comments, don’t stuff with near perfection. If Porsche didn’t modify, walk away, no run away.

    Like 9
  3. Avatar photo justpaul

    Take a great handling road car and turn it into a horror on pavement so that it will look like it can go off road even though you have no intention of ever leaving the pavement with it.

    Seems a waste when it could have been done with a VW Beetle for one-tenth of the cost.

    Like 12
  4. Avatar photo Greenhorn

    One word comes to mind. Abomination.

    Like 9
  5. Avatar photo Malcolm Boyes

    I beg to disagree.From the reports I have read a good Safari is still a good road car.This is the kind of Porsche that would love to drive from Sonoma to Lake Tahoe and not worry about snow etc.The only thing I’d change is get that spare off the roof ..not a good place for extra eight and wind resistance..plus hard to get down if you need it.Other than that I like this very much.As said 911’s have been very successful rally cars for decades.Check out the cars in the East African Safari Rally.

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Anthony H. Tellier

      Gettin it down is not an issue … call upon Mister Gravity. Puttin it back is the issue. Did that on a CrossTrek … seemed like good idea … at the time ….

      Like 0
  6. Avatar photo Kurt Member

    Would cost too much (given listed price) to return to stock condition. Yes, a Beetle would have been much much cheaper to dune buggy and some builders can build a 3 liter engine for it.

    Like 2
  7. Avatar photo Jasper

    Trend de jour. And people always made fun of my stock ride height 911SC.

    I’ve got a ratty 944 I’ve thought about doing this to. Might actually raise its value but I just can’t bring myself to it.

    Like 1
  8. Avatar photo Martin Horrocks

    Ref is the 911 a great car? Is that open to debate? No car in history comes close to the achievements of 911 ( 60 years and counting).

    Would I do this to a 911? No

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo ABikePeddler

      Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution (12 Paris Dakar wins)
      Lancia Delta Integrale (6 WRC in a row)
      Ford Seirra Cosworth (More touring-car race wins then can be listed here)
      BMW E30 M3 (Ditto)
      Prince Skyline GT-R (Won first race it entered and then went on to win the next 49 in a row!)
      Lancia Stratos (No commentary needed)

      Be careful the kool–aid you drink… You might actually believe it. There are a number of cars that have massive historical significance NOT named “Nine-Eleven”. The trouble with 911 owners is they only see 911. They have become increasingly incapable to of recognizing greatness in other car brands and models. It is so sad. I love the Porsche 911… it is the owners that are ruining it for me.

      Like 4
      • Avatar photo Emmet

        No, no, no, some of them see 995 also. LOL.

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo CrowdedGarage

        The 911 can’t do everything but comes very close. For the last 39 years I’ve owned and driven them but never off road. There are other vehicles that are more sensible to do this with. There also are $200K restored 1st Gen Broncos! Capable yes, sensible up for discussion.

        Like 1
  9. Avatar photo Malcolm Boyes

    Hug your local Porsche hater and hold the door of their Prius open for them. We know they mean well but are just a little confused.

    Like 2

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