July 21, 2024
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The Blackbird Roadster Shows That Electrifying Vintage Porsches Can Be Exciting, Not Sacrilegious

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Blame the pandemic. Phil Wagenheim, the highly energized New York investment bro who is CEO and one of two partners at Connecticut’s Sacrilege Motors, does. You see Wagenheim, who made bank during the early days of SPACs (Special-Purpose Acquisition Companies), had been hanging out with his kids at home a lot during the Covid lockdown. As in, a lot a lot.

A lifelong Porsche fan, he wanted to go for a drive to clear his head. Check that, he needed to go for a drive. As he approached his beloved 993 Turbo one day, however, Wagenheim noticed it was leaking oil, which made him mad. He called his longtime pal and soon-to-be business partner Bobby Singh, a respected Porsche mechanic, racer, race engineer and former Boeing 747 wrench. In a moment of pissed-off pique, Wagenheim told Singh: “Bobby, my car is leaking oil and it’s smoking out the right tailpipe. Let’s just convert this thing into an EV.”

Singh founded factory-approved Porsche collision center Manhattan Motorsports and now runs a high-end Porsche shop in a former Skip Barber facility near Lime Rock, CT. Now, his resume also lists his new role as Sacrilege’s president and chief engineer, but securing him at the company wasn’t a certainty.

Phil Wagenheim and Bobby Singh are the brains behind Sacrilege Motors
Photo: Sacrilege Motors

“Phil, you can’t do that. You’re an asshole,” Wagenheim remembers Singh saying. “I go again, ‘I’m an asshole, sure, but what’s that got to do with the fact that I can’t drive my car?’” Dubious at first, Singh tried to dissuade his well-heeled, schemin’ and dreamin’ customer. “He goes, ‘Phil, it’s the last year of the air-cooled cars. You can’t do that. But you’ve always wanted an ’89 Turbo Cab. Why don’t you get an M491 [Turbo-look] car and we’ll do it to that?’”

Wagenheim feared Singh still wasn’t taking him seriously. “But then, I called him up 15 minutes later. ‘Okay, Bobby, the car will be at your shop on Wednesday’. And he’s like, ‘What car? What are you talking about?’ I’m like, ‘The 1992 M491. Let’s convert it to EV’.”

Already Sacrilegious

So, says Wagenheim, “the journey” began. Alongside Singh, the pair launched Sacrilege Motors, which is now ready to take your order for a fully electric 911 that’s been built using donor G-body (1973-1989) or 964 (1989-1994) Porsches.

“Earlier cars aren’t strong enough for all the torque of the electric motors and later ones are too big and computerized,” says Wagenheim who, while happy to call himself an early adopter, longs for the more modest size and relative simplicity of the older Porsches. This predilection is expressed in the dashboard of the Blackbird, which is the converted 964 America Roadster he’s brought along for me to sample on some short but challenging mountain roads near Nyack, NY. Upon first glance, the dash and gauges look exactly like those of an older 911, except further inspection reveals that most of the information telegraphed pertains to electric car things. One of only 250 wide-body C2 roadsters made, the car we are about to gently thrash started life equipped with a Tiptronic automatic gearbox so, its proud co-creator explains, “it was already sacrilege,” which, as noted, is the name of the company.

A photo of the dials on a Sacrilege Motors car.

Same, Same but different.
Photo: Sacrilege Motors

I begin turning the ignition key one notch. A few seconds pass and a subtle display lights up with a tiny message: “Crank Me Baby” (because, bro?). I turn the key further and the car is ready to rumble. Except, being electric, it’s entirely silent at rest, with no ersatz engine noise to color the soundscape. A three-position gear shift commands a single forward speed and couldn’t be easier to fathom (forward-neutral-reverse), slotting into position smoothly. Though not unpleasing to look at, as who doesn’t like a black ball on a stick? The shifter wouldn’t look out of place in an upscale golf cart, an unpretentious interface that suits me fine.

As speed mounts, the noise level rises but the only audible sounds are the wind, the Blackbird’s tuned and upgraded suspension and Wagenheim’s adrenalized narrative that accompanies our sortie.

FAQ

  • What inspired Phil Wagenheim and Bobby Singh to start Sacrilege Motors? – Their passion for Porsche cars and the desire to convert them into electric vehicles.
  • What sets Sacrilege Motors apart from other EV conversion companies? – Their focus on maintaining the period-specific familiarity of the classic cars while enhancing their performance with modern technology.
  • What is the price range for a Sacrilege Motors conversion? – $750,000 to $850,000 depending on the donor car’s condition.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Sacrilege Motors is a unique company that combines the nostalgia of classic Porsche cars with the innovation of electric vehicles. Their attention to detail, commitment to quality, and respect for the Porsche brand make them a standout in the EV conversion industry. While their prices may be steep, the experience of driving one of their converted cars is sure to be unmatched. With a vision to be the Singer of EV-converted 911s, Sacrilege Motors is paving the way for a new era of performance and sustainability in the automotive world.

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