Akira Nakai and his original Stella Artois. Picture: Rauh-Weld Begriff, Japan

Los Angeles, California - Most people regard buying a Porsche as a statement in itself. Porsches are expensive, and they are very, very quick straight out of the box, so few people go overboard on modifying them.

One of those few, however, is former professional drifter Akira Nakai, one of the notorious 'Rough World Crew' of the late 1980s, where he was known as much for his tuning abilities on his Toyota AE86 drift car as his sideways driving skills.

He had no interest in Porsches until he was asked to work on one in the early 1990s; that's when he decided he had to have one - and that he was going to do a typical 'Rough World' tuning job on it. The result was 'Stella Artois', the radically modified 930 Whale Tail (the wailing you hear is Porsche purists crying in their single malt) that you see in the picture, named after his favourite beer.

Among non-purist Porsche fans, however, it struck a chord, and Nakai-san went on to start a specialist Porsche tuning haus in Chiba, Japan, under the name Rauh-Welt Begriff, which is German for Rough World Concepts.

So what? The world is full of tuning shops - but most of them, like California traditionalist Singer, specialise in making a Porsche look more like a Porsche than the factory did. Few show as little respect for purism as does Nakai - and not one operates the way he does.

First, he interviews the customer to get some idea of what he wants in from his car; after that, it's up to Nakai to decide what the final result will look like - right down to the colour and the name. That's because Nakai believes each RWB project car has a soul and that he is uniquely qualified to understand that soul.

Each car is unique

As a serious Porsche racer and tuner Nakai feels he's still learning from every build. He lives in the present, approaching each project as if it were his own, and each car is unique, although certain signature RWB features stand out (literally), especially the hugely flared fenders over wide, wide wheels and, often but not always, a ridiculously oversized rear wing.

More than that, Nakai works entirely by eye like a master swordmaker of old - to the dismay of customers, as they watch him take an electric saw to the body panels of a luxury sports-scar without so much as a chalk-line to work from.

The flared wheel-arches, wings and aero components are also created entirely by eye, which means that Nakai has to do all the cutting and shaping himself. RWB now has offices around the world taking orders for custom Porsches, but Nakai will fly to wherever the car is to do the work himself, chain-smoking, drinking Stella Artois and often going without a break for days and nights on end as a project nears completion, to get it finished in one long creative rush.

Most custom Porsches are styled out of a catalogue, with over-the-counter engine and suspension upgrades, bolt-on commercial body kits and a fancy paint job. Few are as individual as Nakai's creations and none is as entirely hand-crafted.

The 964 in the video below was built in Los Angeles for a Californian customer; Nakai decided to create a Targa version because he felt it was appropriate for that state's famously sunny climate and extrovert car culture.


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