Shooting a Porsche 911 Turbo in the dead of night in Dallas

Commercial Automotive Director - Porsche 911 Turbo | Alex Kinter

Before I get into how the photoshoot unfolded and give you some details about the magnificent 911 Turbo I had the pleasure of shooting, let me give you some backstory as to how all of this even came together. Having just moved to Dallas, Texas, from Florida, I decided to brush up on my photography skills and get the rust off. I’m a massive car enthusiast, but at that point, it had been a while since I last worked on any automotive-related project. I’ve been a part of several car commercial productions a while back so I certainly knew how to shoot cars, but I’ve been extremely busy with other things, putting automotive projects off to the side.

Over the last year or so I’ve been stocking up on some video production gear, expecting to embark on a new project, but I never thought my first venture back into the car world would turn out the way it did. It all started with a music video I was shooting with the help of my friend Chris Romain of Split Window Studios. He decided to let me play around with his A7SII we frequently use as a backup and I wisely decided to go out and take some night shots, seeing as how I only had the camera on me for a short while anyway. 

Earlier that day we were shooting my friend Amar’s 700 horsepower Porsche 911 Turbo, so I decided to give him a quick call to see if he’d be down to bring his 911 and make it the subject of my shoot. I drove round to his house and knocked on the door, only to be greeted by the most unlikely sentence I think I’ve ever heard. “Here, take the keys for the night”. Imagine someone giving you the keys to their priceless possession and trusting you completely with it for an entire night. To say I was stoked would be an understatement of the century. At this point, I’d like to express gratitude to Amar again for letting me borrow his 911 and being one of the nicest people I know.

The truth is I’ve been planning a car-related shoot for a while, but I didn’t know what I’d end up snapping photos of. I would have been just as happy with a stock GT86 or something relatively common, so the fact that I had this fully custom 911 to play with definitely made my entire night. I was grinning from ear to ear the entire time, so much so that I think my jaw hurt the other day from having so much fun.

Anyway, back to the shoot. I knew this wasn’t going to be an ordinary photoshoot. I had to get the angle and the lighting just right to make a decent comp shot. I wanted to get some great reflections coming off the car’s paint, but I immediately realized that regular street light won’t really cut it. It’s too scattered and weak, not to mention how a group of street lights cluttered next to each other interfere with the light source. Thankfully, my friend’s place was right above this garage I could use for the shoot, and it had nice long lights which would reflect off the car’s surface brilliantly.

With that set, I headed off to the location to give it a go. Getting nice streaky lines and the feeling of time freeze took a couple of tries, but eventually, I nailed it. Unfortunately, I was still really excited, so perhaps in my rush to use every single second of the night I made a mistake and accidentally saved over the high-res version of the shoot. I had to start all over again from the RAW file and the plate shoot. In the end, it was all worth it though, as you can probably tell by the photos. I’ll be attaching some behind the scenes footage of the video editing process too, so be on the lookout for that pretty soon.

UPDATE // Here is the Before and After from the shoot:

Commercial Automotive Photographer - Porsche 911 Turbo | Alex Kinter

(Behind the Scenes Video Coming. Check back Soon!)

The brilliance of the 911

I feel like I should talk a little bit about the 911 before I get into how Amar modified his and made it completely unique. Although I didn’t plan on specifically shooting a Porsche 911, I was more than pleased that I ended up spending the night with one of the most iconic sports cars of our time. I think that nothing defines the word sportscar more than a Porsche 911. Nothing else is a sportscar but the 911. It pioneered an entire segment and it spawned a whole generation of cars which owe their existence to the 911. Think of the 918 Spyder, the Panamera, the Cayenne, the Macan… none of them would be here today had it not been for the 911 and its enormous success over the last 56 years.

Every 911 can trace its roots back to the first sketches drawn by Ferdinand Porsche and a car which was meant to be a replacement for the 356. Making its official debut in 1963, the 911 is one of the oldest sports cars in production today. Although classic car enthusiasts still prefer air-cooled variants of the 911 (the 930, the 964 and the 993), the 911 became extremely popular and even mainstream once it made the switch over to liquid cooling.  

Amar’s 991-gen car is widely regarded as one of the best liquid-cooled 911s to date. It took the brilliant 997-gen platform and upgraded on it with a massively improved engine, better aero, a wider front track, and I think even more visual appeal that before. In stock form, it makes 520 horsepower and 487 lb-ft of torque, but Amar’s car is far from stock.

What it takes to modify a 911 Turbo

Like me, Amar is a massive car enthusiast, but he really likes to modify his cars and make them his own. Take this 911 Turbo for instance. From the outside, it’s what you’d call a sleeper. It doesn’t look all that different from a stock 911 Turbo. Sure, it looks fast and people know it’s fast because it’s a Porsche, but there are no visual indicators as to just how menacing this car is once you get on the loud pedal. It’s a black-on-black example with just 22k miles and full-service history. It’s fully loaded with things like the Chrono package, the Burmeister audio system, and heated/cooled seats, but that’s not what makes this car so special.

For starters, I adore the way it looks. I like that it’s understated but it will absolutely blow the doors off any stock supercar on the planet. The 911 has an iconic shape that is instantly recognizable, even if you’re not a big car guy. Seeing a 991-gen in the flesh makes you realize just how special these things have gotten over the last decade of continuous development. It’s long, it’s wide, and it’s low, the three tell-tale signs of a sports car. The Turbo boasts extremely wide arches and a ridiculous 305-section rear tire, making it look all the more menacing.

I also it looks really elegant in black. White and silver suit the 991-gen body shell too, but finished in dark metallic black it just looks aggressive. It also did wonders for my photoshoot, as I was able to get all of the light reflections I needed for the composite photo. I don’t think I would have been able to pull this shoot off with a silver car, and certainly not a white one. The black contrasts the colorful streaks of light better than any other color would have been able to.

The cabin is relatively inconspicuous-looking too. Just your ‘average’ 911 Turbo interior. There are plenty of bells and whistles to play around with, but nothing too special. My favorite thing about 911s, in general, is the driving position. You sit low in the car, right above the floor, and you’re pretty far back behind the A-pillar too. The wonderful bucket seats hold you in place even under heavy G-force loads, but you have to brace yourself as soon as you get hard on the brakes. The steering is electric, but it provides plenty of feedback. I always thought hydraulic makes more sense in a car like the 911, but Porsche has dialed in this electric steering rack to the point where ordinary people such as myself can’t really tell the difference.

We then get to the engine, and here’s where things get crazy. The twin-turbo 3.8-liter flat-six has been tuned to produce well over 700 horsepower, thanks to a variety of upgrades and modifications. To help it breathe better, Amar has fitted a BMW Performance Air Filter and a KLINE stainless steel exhaust along with headers (de-catted of course). It’s got six brand-new OEM spark plugs, a CSF intercooler upgrade, an IPD Y-pipe, an IPD S plenum, and Champion air diverter valves. The whole thing is controlled by COBB’s Accessport and a Top Speed Motorsports custom dyno tune.

The end result is 590 whp and 670 wtg. When you consider how much powertrain loss your typical AWD-system has, this Porsche is easily pushing out in excess of 700 horsepower at the crank. Sending power to all four wheels is a PDK 7-speed transmission, which is both smooth and ridiculously fast. I can’t even begin to describe how maniacal it feels even under half throttle. It’s scary fast.

I’ve been in some fast car, even a couple of really fast cars. Until you experience a modified 911 Turbo you don’t know the true meaning of terror. It’s violent and unrelenting. The way it accelerates is just plain brutal. It forces you back into the seat and it keeps you pinned there for as long as you have the loud pedal floored. Most cars have a hard time accelerating at the same rate of speed past that initial hit up to 30 mph or so. Not this particular 911. It feels like it never wants to let up, and that’s a terrifying feeling if you’re a passenger in the car.

Luckily it has the brakes to match its power. These 911 Turbo variants come with giant drilled and slotted brakes, so stopping power is just as insane as the acceleration. Slam on the brakes and you’re suddenly yanked into the seatbelt with violent force. None of this performance would be possible without great tires, which is why Amar has fitted his car with some of the best tires currently available on the market, Pirelli’s P-Zero.

Then there’s the way it sounds. A naturally-aspirated flat-six like the one found in the GT3 has the sweetest engine note out of any car in my opinion, but turbochargers seem to muffle that noise. When you equip your car with a $7,000 exhaust system and some of the best headers money can buy, you seem to get rid of that issue altogether. This thing sounds brutal just idling below 1,000 rpm. It shakes the very ground underneath it. It burbles and it rumbles as you’re going through the rev range, starting an almost V8-like shriek at the top end. I can’t translate the sound in words because it’s that brutal. It’s like describing a new color to someone who’s blind. Almost impossible.

Wrapping it up

I wasn’t ready to give Amar his car back. I know I only had it for a short while, but during those few couple of hours, I fell completely in love with it. The way it looks, the way it drives, and most importantly, the way it makes you feel. I get why people love these cars so much now. The 911 is often criticized for being too clinical, too ‘ordinary’, but I challenge anyone to get in a modified 911 Turbo and walk out calling it ordinary. It’s just not possible. It’s a car which makes you fall in love with it all over again every time you go for a drive. This is a car you buy with your heart, not with your head.

Amar is selling this very 911 Turbo and had I been able to, I would have bought it off him in a heartbeat. It’s a great car looking for a new owner. If you’re interested, send me an email and I’ll get you in touch with Amar. I’ve never driven a car with so much presence and character. Well done Porsche.

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