928 by Nardone Automotive: a restomod Porsche with Gallic verve and Italian style
928 by Nardone Automotive is a gracefully modernised version of Porsche’s endearingly different 928
The archives of the past are always open to being raided, copyright notwithstanding. We’ve touched on companies that are overhauling automotive classics with new technology, most notably electric propulsion (see our article on electric restomods). However, there are also those who can reshape iconic forms without completely changing the character of the car. Instead, refined design, uprated tech, and a bespoke approach to every aspect of design ensure these restomods are instant collectors’ items for discerning individualists.
A new addition to this exclusive garage is the 928 by Nardone Automotive, a gracefully modernised version of Porsche’s endearingly different 928, complete with pop-up headlines and a sympathetically 1970s-inspired interior.
The Porsche 928 was originally conceived as a replacement for the venerable 911. Development started in the 1970s and the car, heavier and hugely more complicated than its predecessor, was eventually launched in 1977. Straight away it became clear it complemented, rather than eclipsed, its stablemate, and the two models ran in parallel until the last 928, the S4, was built in 1995.
As a front-engined, rear-wheel drive four-seater, the 928 was defiantly different to its sibling. The intense engineering was rewarded by the 1978 European Car of the Year award, although it was never quite the sales success Porsche had hoped.
After a couple of decades in the doldrums, enthusiasts are now flocking to these early examples of high-tech automotive design.
One passionate fan is the French entrepreneur Thierry Nardone, a man self-confessedly obsessed with this era of Porsche design.
‘Back in the day, the 928 was a very disruptive design with a huge investment in engineering, so it was 20 years in advance compared to other cars,’ he says. ‘Today, after having disassembled one, I can confirm that it is still contemporary in terms of its engineering.’
This is Nardone’s vision, the 928 by Nardone Automotive. Starting with an original 928 S4 as a donor car, the vehicle is stripped back and completely rebuilt, with all-new carbon-fibre body panels, a refurbished and upgraded engine, and an interior that takes the spirit of the original but channels it through the art of Dieter Rams, Bill Amberg, and Jony Ive.
Save for a subtle flaring of the rear wheel arches to accommodate larger 18in wheels and a slightly more technical approach to the pop-up lights, Nardone’s vision retains the original’s bold forms.
The new body panels are made near Turin – Nardone describes the region as the ‘Silicon Valley of the car industry’ – and he has worked with French firm Podium Advanced Technologies on the engineering, and Italian company BorromeodeSilva on the design.
The Milanese studio was previously responsible for the Lancia Delta Integrale Futurista, an earlier restomod project.
The 928 by Nardone Automotive was revealed to the world during Milan Design Week 2022, although for now it is only a rolling demonstrator. ‘The construction of the real prototype starts in September, but the engine is in the pre-production phase,’ says Nardone. ‘We should be able to reach 400hp, maybe more.’
Another small specialist, Involute, is transforming the original five-speed gearbox into a six-speed. Performance should be more than adequate. ‘To me this car is not about numbers, but about style and comfort as well,’ says Nardone. ‘It must not be compared to a 911 as it is perfectly complementary.’
Nardone expects the radical conversion to cost around €480,000, plus the donor car. ‘We don’t want to limit the production,’ he says, adding that the first eight customers will get the ‘launch edition’ – which will have more options at the same price.
His company, which is based in Aix-en-Provence, hopes to deliver the first customer car in 2024. With Foglizzo leather and Alcantara inserts, along with high-end audio and Apple CarPlay, as well as new driving enhancements like active suspension and variable electric power steering, the 928 by Nardone Automotive, is that rarest of things, a revival that transcends the original. §