Theon Design reveals supercharged air-cooled flat-six

Theon Design has given its first tantalising glimpse of its next bespoke Porsche 964-based commission with a first look at the car’s beating heart: a 450bhp supercharged version of the famous air-cooled flat-six.

The remarkable 3.6-litre engine – the first supercharged unit Theon Design has created for one of its discerning customers – wholly represents the company’s core philosophy of respecting Porsche’s engineering ethos but enhancing performance through the sympathetic application of contemporary design and engineering techniques.

“It’s what we refer to as OEM+,” explains Theon Design founder Adam Hawley. “With obsessive attention to detail and state-of-the-art technology, we elevate the Porsche 911 experience to another level for our customers, applying that approach to every part of the car from the exterior to the interior and the engine – the very heart of the car.”

Theon Design offers customers a choice of three ultra-responsive, high-performance naturally aspirated engine configurations: a 285bhp 3.6-litre, 370bhp 3.8-litre or 400bhp 4.0-litre. For its next commission, it has taken performance to another level with a supercharged 3.6-litre unit producing 450bhp and 500Nm of torque.

Hawley added: “We wanted to deliver additional performance but also maintain the seamless delivery of a Porsche naturally-aspirated engine, so chose a Rotrex centrifugal supercharger.

“Effectively a belt-driven turbocharger, it gives a wonderful, linear power delivery and instant throttle response with no delay or lag. It was crucial to us that the Porsche flat-six sound was undiluted and we’re very pleased with the results: the supercharger has a very subtle ‘whine’ so the flat-six is still front and centre, with some wonderful added character.”

The supercharger had to be totally in keeping with the car’s character and Porsche’s original engineering values.

To achieve this, the team utilised some of the existing AC brackets to further support the unit, developing and designing additional bracketry to mimic the design and materials used for the engine cam covers and other elements.

Significant effort was undertaken to ensure this would provide solid and durable support for the supercharger, allowing for no movement or flex, no matter how extreme the driving conditions, from a bumpy mountain road to a high-speed race circuit.

To maintain a ‘clean’ look to the engine bay, Theon Design opted for a water-methanol injection system, negating the need for an intercooler and air intake apertures in the bodywork.

“Injecting a water-methanol mix into the engine plenum not only provides the same cooling function as an intercooler but also increases the octane rating of the fuel, boosting 98 octane petrol to a 110 rating and improving performance as a result,” says Hawley.

Depending upon the configuration chosen by the customer, engine build time varies between 150 and 250 hours.

All engines spend a minimum of four hours on the dyno to bed in and to verify power and torque outputs, but that is merely the beginning of the testing process.

“Road testing is key to ensuring perfection,” explains Hawley.

“Each commission is driven over a huge variety of road conditions, from town centres, B-roads, A-roads and motorways.

“Every car must be as happy being driven at crawling speed around a busy supermarket car park as it is at high speed.

“It’s that OEM+ attention. It’s a passion for perfection.

“Many days are spent with Nick, tweaking the control mapping on each engine on the road, just to make sure it provides an optimum response in every possible driving scenario, and that’s what delivers the Theon Design difference.”

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