Wide Bodies In Warsaw: Meet The Wide Body RWB Porsche 911s Bringing Japanese Style To Poland
Photography by Anh Tu Nguyen, Jakub Paćko, and Robb Pritchard
Love them or loathe them, the excessively wide bodied creations of famed Japanese Porsche tuner and customizer Akira Nakai have attained a growing cult status, creating waves of imitators in the ongoing trend of adding width to everything from ’90s Nissans to brand-new Lamborghinis.
The stories of Nakai-San flying around the world to personally work on his clients’ cars while they sit and watch him cut into precious Porsche metal (as well as naming the creations himself) have created a legend in the tuning world. Purists are not too pleased with his work, but the propensity that RWB owners have for taking their cars to the track—mainly in Japan, on the Tsukuba Circuit during the Idlers festival—lends some legitimacy to an otherwise purely aesthetic pursuit. RWB’s reputation has expanded from its native country to the rest of the world, and while the Polish capital Warsaw isn’t really on the map for its car tuning scene, there are more RWB Porsches per capita here in than anywhere else in Europe. For our shoot we managed to get five of the local six together.
Akira Nakai began his customization career in the burgeoning Japanese drifting scene in the ’90s, and after fettling an aging Toyota into a car that still graces magazines to this day, he decided to test his skills on his 911. RWB kits are not simply bolt on wings, and since the conversion includes a lot of cutting away of fender arches, once he’s done with the cutting wheel the base car is not going back to its stock form without major surgery. Akira’s faith in his abilities and style proved well founded after his first foray into Porsches, and the first RWB car, which he named “Stella Artois” after his favorite beer, was born. It was an instant success, and a paradigm shift in the tuning scene. As Nakai’s builds increased the outrageousness of the bodywork, with wider arches and taller wings, so did the demand from around the world.
For those out of the loop, the “RWB” name stands for Rauh-Welt Begriff, which translates to “Rough World Concept.” It’s nothing too deep or meaningful, just the name of Akira’s drifting team from back in the day.
Nakai’s first international trip outside of Japan since the pandemic began will be to Poland. How did Warsaw become so popular for RWBs? It’s mostly due to local long-time Porsche aficionado Jarek Sekuna. As an owner of a well-known Porsche workshop called 911 Garage on the outskirts of Warsaw, his personal philosophy is to only offer products to customers once he has fully tested and experienced them himself… and so the only honest thing he could do before suggesting that people buy an RWB build was to commission a personal one… During the process of inviting Nakai halfway around the world to build the first RWB on Polish ground, a friend of Jarek’s jumped at the opportunity to have one as well. The ball was rolling…
Jarek’s bright red 993-based car was christened 79 for his birth year, while his friend’s has a slightly more cryptic name, Yoroi, a Japanese word for “armor”… although I would argue that its composite fender arches are not the most durable of materials.
Long isolated from the rest of Europe behind the Iron Curtain, Poles have fully embraced the culture of cars and the freedom of expression therein, and the extreme creations of Nakai are extremely sought after over here among the Porsche fans who don’t mind trading one kind of originality for another. After the first builds, it didn’t take too long for more local enthusiasts to add to the momentum. “I understand the love that many people have when they modify and restore their own cars,” Jarek says, “but with Nakai there is such an enthralling atmosphere around the build, and it’s such a special feeling to have someone come and tailor make your own car in front of you. It’s an experience you can’t really get from other commissioned projects.” Instead of dropping off your car at a shop and only seeing bills and invoices until the finished product is ready, the owners get a firsthand experience, with nothing hidden from them.
Although he’s far from an OEM-only kind of guy, Jarek’s 911 Garage caters to every type of Porsche enthusiast, so he has developed a counter argument for the purist naysayers who typically don’t have kind words for the augmented bodies of the RWB builds. “Probably there is the same number of people who hate these cars as there are who love them,” he says with a laugh, “A lot of people think that making one of these builds is just destroying a nice car, but my argument is that we’re giving old 911s a new life, for a new owner who will love it even more than a stock example. The donors are often accident-damaged cars or tired high-milers that were bought cheap. For every RWB car, the engine is rebuilt, a full new suspension package is fitted, and we install a new interior, so each one can be considered a complete reconstruction, a ‘restomod,’ if you will.”
Another point is that although the RWBs are undoubtedly outrageous, huge wings and fat tires is something that Porsche themselves have been doing for nearly half a century. Park even the most aggressive RWB next to a 993 GT2 Evo and it doesn’t look too far removed. Or what about the Carrera RSR Turbo 2.1 from the ’70s? And most RWBs even look a little tame compared to the 935s that dominated in motorsport in the latter half of the decade.
Despite the major external transformation, underneath the kits the original Porsche drivetrain and suspensions are generally left in stock specification when they are rebuilt. Jarek explains that the extra width comes only from the wheels themselves. They have a hugely negative offset, so no spacers are needed, and no undue stress is placed on any suspension or drivetrain components. The wheel sizes are typically 10Jx18 ET -10 on the front end, and 13Jx18 ET -28 at the rear. Tires are 265/35R18 for the fronts and 335/30R18 out back. Apart from the reduced ground clearance caused by the low front splitters and side skirts, an RWB is as practical and as drivable as any other Porsche of the era, but with the extra contact patch of the huge Idlers-stenciled tires, they can actually perform on track better than a standard car in most cases.
Lined up, a profusion of flared arches, huge wings, and bold colors, Jarek can’t choose which is his favorite. “They’re all their own car, each either completely or subtly different from the next, each with its own personality. It’s like asking which is your favorite child. Maybe the first one is unique for being first, but you love them all just the same.”