The Challenge: take the two most beautiful cars ever made, the sexiest babes on wheels that ever happened to roam the planet, and put them together, literally. If this sounds totally crazy to you, it’s because it is. Nobody attempted something so complicated, before. The technical challenges are enormous even to the most skilled team of mechanics and nobody, it must be said, ever dared to touch these holy icons of design, two sweethearts which rank in the top 5 Car of the Century, a hall of fame where Ferdinand Porsche, no less, figures as the first and foremost Car Engineer of the Century. Citroen DS, designed in 1955 by italian designer and sculptor Flaminio Bertoni, is still considered today the most advanced car ever produced, for the amount of innovation it had in every detail.
The two cars are totally different in weight, shape and dynamics, not to mention horsepower, and you can’t simply cut and glue them together. Nevertheless, we decided to give it a go anyway and, before getting started, we invited for a beer Stewart Johnson, a former engineer from Inter Box Mechanics, and probably one of the most regarded experts in the field. After a quick look at our drawings and scale models, he dryly asked: “where are you going to place the engine?”. Good question, we thought. Carried away by our own enthusiasm, we totally forgot that to fit a Porsche 911 engine into the rear bonnet of a Citroen DS is as easy as squeezing a pumpkin into a pea pod. “If you shift the engine 90° horizontally,” Stewart suggested, “and slide the backseat 10 inches forward, you get enough room. You want a lower center of gravity on a car that’s going to be longer and higher than a regular 911.”. Our question to Stewart Johnson, at that point, was quite obvious: “would you consider to be the project leader?”. Stewart accepted, at one condition: to be the first to drive the 911DS.
Above: one of Brandpowder’s preliminary sketches before the cut-and-weld phase. Below: the cars’ overlap view showing matching touchpoints for potential assembly.
Above: the 911 block with its classic ‘flat-chest’ boxer shape: an engineer’s dream and a masterpiece in design. Below: model cars were adopted for an initial assessment of weight’s distribution, aerodynamics and maneuverability. We soon realized, though, the only way to crack down on problems was to go full scale on the real thing.
Above: Jim Lurpak, concept designer at Brandpowder, sketching a first draft for the 911 DS. Jim’s talent has been fundamental in streamlining not only two separate bodies but to harmonize two worlds into one.
Above: 3D was essential to build virtual models of the joining parts. Merging the original shapes of both cars into one was the hardest part. The task was not just technical. We did our best to preserve each car’s distinct, individual personality.
Above: Stewart Johnson, checking the overmatching of the welded parts. This is the only picture where we caught him smiling.
The 911, cut and stripped off everything, waiting for assembly. The body has been painted with a coat of Hempel, anti corrosion primer. In the end, we opted for a custom made aluminum chassis as a flatbed to hold the two cars together.
Above and below: front and rear view of the stunning 911 DS: the first ‘Porsche Citroen’ ever made. Ralph Klein, a British test pilot we called for an opinion, at the end of a full-day drive, couldn’t hold his enthusiasm:”Guys! It’s like I’ve been drinking German Champagne!”.
Above: seen from behind, the 911DS looks rather inconspicuous. Nobody can imagine a turbocharged 3000 cc, 260hp rests under the bonnet. This engine is known for its exhilarating acceleration coupled with challenging handling characteristics and extreme turbo lag. The air cooled system has been replaced with a forced water cooling pipeline. The solution of extra large tyres and an extremely rigid chassis guarantee exceptional stability. At high speed, though, the acoustic comfort is far from the silent luxury of a Citroen DS but this is, after all, a sportscar.
Below: to a less expert eye the front view of 911DS looks just like the original 911. Porsche enthusiasts might be disappointed by the higher windshield, but this was a necessary trade off in order to reach the right attack angle with the Citroen DS’ body part.
Once presented to the press, the 911DS caused a stir. The car has been under the media bull’s eye since day one. Not all the press has been favorable. Quite the opposite: 911DS’ personality is so strong to split opinions in two. Among a few enthusiasts, we received a lot of criticism. Below: Car Mag compares, not without a bit of sarcasm, the 911DS to a German Champagne.
This magazine gave us a great idea, so we invited Mrs Angela Merkel and monsieur Francois Hollande to see our car. After all, the 911DS represents the effort of two Countries, a genuine attempt to join their energy and talent into one thing. We hope Germany and France will be inspired by Brandpowder’s story, as a metaphor for a better and greater Europe.
Angela Merkel showed great interest for our project but didn’t like the idea to drive the 911DS: “I’m not much into racing,” she told us. ” This is boys’ stuff.” Francois Hollande couldn’t resist the thrill but didn’t take the driver’s seat. He kindly asked his chauffeur to take him for a short drive around the Hockenheimring circuit. We celebrated the historic moment with a bottle of Keller Riesling 2005. We were delighted to discover, by the way, that Germany produces one of the finest Champagne in the world. Cheers!
The Brandpowder Team