“If you need a good photo location, there is an elephant just around the corner,” says the softly spoken voice of Bisi Ezerioha, who I can only assume has visited the local MedMen prior to our arrival.
But no, he’s 100% serious. And 100% right. There really is a 15-ft elephant down the road; a monument for his estate, aptly named the Safari Business Park. It’s a good shout, but it’s also covered in shade. So, for now at least, we’ll have to settle for a sun-blushed mountain backdrop. How anyone shoots cars in California is beyond me.
I’ve followed Bisi’s work for years now. Since he got his start in 1994, the LA-based engineer has been responsible for some of the wildest builds to grace Speedhunters. Remember that 1,029hp Honda Odyssey specced for the school run? That was Bisi. How about the ’76 Porsche 911 with a 996 Turbo engine rammed up its boot? Yup, all his doing too. It’s safe to say that every Bisimoto build is a snapshot of his brain at that particular moment in time. And I get the feeling his latest venture might just be his maddest – and most brilliant – yet.
“You know, there is so much focus on EV right now. But with that attention comes a lot of misconceptions,” explains Bisi who, despite it being 6:30am, has the same enthusiasm as a child on the morning of December 25. To balance this out, I’ve arrived jet-lagged and confused as to why myself, Ben and Ryan thought tequila would be a good way to induce sleep last night. It wasn’t.
“EV is exciting,” he exclaims. “It shouldn’t be looked upon as just a tool for the daily commute. It should be accessible to all people, especially automotive fans. These multimillion-dollar EV hypercars boasting 2,000hp might pull headlines, but they don’t capture you on an emotional level.”
Lifting the shutter to his workshop, Bisi introduces us to his vision; his future. And on first appearance it looks an awful lot like his past. It’s a Porsche 935 – wings and all – but not as we know it.
Dubbed the 935 K3V, it wouldn’t look out of place on the set of Tron. But after carefully getting on my knees to avoid last night’s spirits from dramatically leaving my body, there’s no twin turbos dangling from its arse. There’s no engine altogether. But this isn’t some re-bodied Tesla drivetrain; it’s entirely bespoke.
I’ll level with you right now – I’m an EV sceptic. I’m that annoying person who throws ‘range anxiety’ into any discussion, and will argue electric is only a temporary solution without knowing what the long-term one is. A car’s engine is its heart. And I’ll forgive 90% of issues if it makes a good noise as reflected by the cars I currently own. Most of which don’t work. The concept of an EV sportscar doesn’t wash over me, yet. But I’m up for being proven wrong.
Being around Bisi, his enthusiasm makes it abundantly clear this isn’t just a fad for him. He’s got an informed answer to every question, and within a few minutes I start to understand the potential of this tech. Time to remove my EV sceptic hat and find out what solutions Bisi has engineered to some of the most common issues. First up? Weight.
Anyone who’s driven a lightweight car knows that weight, or rather too much, is a fantastic way to dampen the driving experience regardless of outright speed. It’s been the business model of Caterham for nearly 50 years. I’ve always assumed EVs require many batteries to be truly usable. Batteries equal weight. A traditional sportscar should be light and nimble, so what’s the solution?
‘”Well, I can tell you right now the car has been weighed at 2,681lbs and it’s ready to go,” Bisi proudly states. That’s 1,216kg to our European chums. In fact, that’s lighter than any production GT3 RS; it’s even lighter than a 964 RS and nobody has every described that as being a bit porky. Which heinous black magic is being practiced here?
“You have to remember that, when you remove all the standard drivetrain and cooling from a car, there really isn’t that much heavy stuff left,” states Bisi. “In a sportscar, that effect is amplified. It’s very common to remove driver aids, air conditioning and audio in the quest for a pure driver’s car. You apply that same method to an EV-powered one and the end result is surprisingly similar.”
Bisi continues: “The last point I’ll make on the weight is, battery tech is rapidly improving right now. This is where the most advantage will come from in the future. As the capacity and range improves in the batteries, so does the car. Right now we have a 260-mile [418km] range. But we can mount the batteries wherever we like. This 935 K3V doesn’t have to have the weight of a rear-engined car; we can distribute the weight to mimic any driving characteristics. And that’s super exciting.”
It’s a solid point and answers my next query: range. Because less weight requires less energy to move. And the less energy used means improved overall range. When you focus a car like the 935 K3V with performance and only performance in mind, it doesn’t need to be heavy. There’s no need for multiple motors or a hybrid drivetrain. It’s just you, a motor and a whole load of electricity. What could possibly go wrong?
Speaking of motors, the next point I throw at Bisi is the power delivery. Every EV I’ve driven so far has, for the most part, felt like a bit of a one-trick pony in that department. Point, squirt, giggle at the acceleration and feel slightly ill as the regen kicks in. We’re regularly told how an electric motor can deploy all its torque from 1rpm, but we’re assuming that’s always a good thing.
“Listen Mark, this is the area you can have the most fun with,” laughs Bisi. “You cannot look at this as a binary function; it doesn’t have to be on or off even if some EV cars feel that way. The speed controller I have developed allows me to dictate how much torque is deployed at any given speed or RPM. Think of it in the same way that you map a traditional engine. If you want a smoother power curve with more punch at the top end, you can do that.
“The 935 K3V uses a single motor powering the rear wheels, but if we put one on every corner there’s the option for individual torque vectoring, too. The lack of a combustion engine does not mean it can’t be mapped – or rather programmed – to deliver performance in different ways.”
Processing Bisi’s last statement, of course EVs can be programmed for different power deliveries depending on road or driving conditions. Granted this is as much dictated by the motor and voltage as anything else, but if you wanted more linear acceleration rather than everything at once it’s a simple switchable map much like Tesla’s infamous ‘Ludicrous’ mode. Or the switch in my GT-R which dictates how quickly I want the engine to lunch itself.
All of this sounds fantastic on paper, but what about something which can’t be quantified with facts and figures; what about the way an EV sportscar makes you feel compared to its internal combustion predecessor?
I’ll try and answer this without Bisi’s help for once, as it was around this point when the 935 K3V started to make sense. There seems to be a trend with certain EV makers who feel compelled to make every model feel like it’s come straight from the future because of the powertrain rather than in spite of it. With the 935 K3V it’s the opposite.
The door opens like a traditional door; it even has the classic Porsche feature of needing to be shut much harder than expected. The dashboard is the original item from 1986 – albeit now fitted with an AEM CD5 digital display/logger – and the Momo Prototipo steering wheel makes me want to sprout dreadlocks and get out and drive. It’s just like an old Porsche. Except I don’t reek of fuel and leather driving gloves. There’s even a Quaife shifter, but we’ll get to that later on.
It only begins to feel difference once Bisi jumps it into life. I wasn’t expecting it to be silent, but there’s an eerie, almost intimidating hum in the cockpit similar to when a fuel pump whirrs away. I can’t say I dislike it. Because if this were a traditional 935K, I’d be listening out for any misfire or burble and praying the smoke behind me disappears once warmed up.
Before I can throw another question at Bisi, I’m interrupted with the following: “Mark, I’m bored of talking now. It’s time for you to drive it, and the three of you can’t leave until you have all had a go.” Inevitably, I’m met with flashbacks of lime, salt and sin from last night. But even more telling is the fact Bisi has no desire to be a passenger. Smart man. His final words aren’t something trivial like ‘be careful’ but instead ‘don’t cheap out and go half throttle; push it all the way down’. Next time I think we’ll stick with a Cars & Coffee spotlight…
“F*cking hell!” I blurt out to Bisi like some possessed YouTuber, taking his command quite literal from the get-go. The acceleration, inevitably, is savage – which contradicts everything we’d just spoke about. 636hp and 1,216kg will do that. But it’s not the silent, robotic affair I was expecting. The whine of the motor (free from sound deadening) combined with the squeal of 345-section wide Toyos gives it a genuine sense of speed as much as the physical feeling. Wrapped around a cage and sat tight within a bucket seat makes it seem like any other spicy Porsche minus the soundtrack. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it’s familiar despite being unlike anything I’ve driven before.
“It doesn’t feel that heavy, does it?” questions Bisi, who already knows the answer. ‘”It’ll slide around with a bit of throttle, and if you poke it hard enough it’ll bite back,” he adds. Those characteristics are exactly what I love about old fast cars. While it lacks the four-stroke backing track, there’s so much going on you don’t immediately feel like you’re missing it. Maybe that comes after a few more miles’ driving. Compliments to the nutty chef however, he’s built something genuinely engaging here.
Whether an EV sportscar is something you buy into or not, you can’t argue with Bisi’s approach both to this project and the way he’s marketed it. He didn’t have to let anyone drive it. Truth be told, he forced us. But so confident is he in the product he’s created he can afford to be cocky. Don’t forget, this isn’t some start-up firm trying to cash-in on EV tech; Bisi is one of us. He’s been tuning cars longer than the majority of us have existed, and he’s still immensely passionate about that side of his business. He’s just extra excited about the new side, too.
With the 935 K3V you can see and feel the fun Bisi’s had putting it together. It’s a mismatch of past and present tech but it works. Take the Brixton Forged wheels. They look like a nod to the turbofans fitted to classic Porsche race cars, but the covers aren’t carbon or fiberglass. They’re 3D printed.
See that classic 911 fuel filler in the hood? Unscrew the aluminium cap and you’re presented with the EV charging plug.
Even the shifter – taken straight from the Quaife catalogue – has been adapted so that pushing it forward engages drive, and pulling it backwards engages reverse. By incorporating quirky touches like this, it feels on the correct side of familiar.
Quick disclaimer: for anyone foaming with rage that a Kremer has been sacrificed in the process, you can reduce your blood pressure. The base model is in fact a 1986 Porsche 911, but the bodywork has been reproduced using genuine 935 K3 molds to be as close to the original as possible without ramping up the weight.
When I first reached Bisimoto to shoot this car, I assumed it’d be a typical SEMA build complete with fact sheet of positives and an equal amount of excuses as to why it isn’t working. But credit where it’s due, the 935 K3V feels much more than just an old Porsche with a bit of leccy power. And I’m aware this sounds like I work for Bisi’s PR department, but I believe in celebrating the good as much as questioning the bad. I’m not about to go and sell my cars, stand on a plinth and inform the world they’ve stolen by future before whirring away in an EV, but it’s no longer something I’d actively try and avoid.
Because this is just the beginning, and Bisi knows it. EV-specific tuners already exist, but fast-forward another five years and replacing motors, batteries and control modules could become commonplace for builds covered on Speedhunters.
And when you break it down, there’s even more benefits. Had this been a genuine 935, it’d have been a pig to move around constantly, not to mention waking up all of those within a 3-mile radius at 6:30am. Without digging into values, a 935 K3/80 recently sold in Japan for US$1.5million. When cars reach levels like this, all too often we see classics being turned into artifacts.
Here’s a final bit of food for thought before we wrap up an already lengthy feature. How many of us have faced stricter and stricter noise regs on track days? How many of us have seen tracks close because idiots buy houses next to ‘em and moan about the noise? Here in the UK, a standard Lamborghini Huracán will fail spectacularly on the drive-by limit at Goodwood.
What if in the future we ran EV-only track days for cars like this? You could theoretically run them morning, noon and night. It might sound a bit weird, but it’s appealing because it can exist when traditional engines can’t.
I’ll always be a petrolhead at heart. That’s what I grew up with. It’s what excites me, and I firmly believe that a car’s engine and noise is its most emotive part. But, and I bleat on about this more often than I should, the automotive industry is changing whether we like it or not. And in a world becoming more woke to our traditional fuel-burning ways, it’s refreshing to know that the future of fun motoring isn’t going to be reserved to the history books or old YouTube videos. It’s just going to be a bit quieter.
Got a tech-based question for Bisi? Post it in the comments section and we’ll get it answered.
475kW (636hp) single drive custom AC 3-phase induction motor (liquid cooled, 90+% efficiency), 403 volts, 18,000rpm redline, single speed 9.73:1 gearbox, PurOl gear oil, PurOl coolant treatment, 76kW regenerative braking system via motor, 6-wire drive-by-wire throttle input, Bisimoto controller with CAN BUS output, EV West motor cradle with Bisimoto mods, RothFab battery box, LG Chem 60V batteries, Dilithium BMS, Rasant wiring harness, Bosch water pump, EV West contactors, DC/DC converter, fuses & holders, Elcon charger, J1772 charging port
AEM CD5 logger dash, Quaife shifter, Momo Prototipo steering wheel, Vibrant Performance coolant lines, Dyme PSI fittings, Voltaik communication protocol, Momo Supercup seats, SOS Customz RS carpet kit and headliner, Bisimoto 6-point cage, Rasant dash delete, EV West high voltage cables, LA Dismantler stalk & switches, Wilwood dual master floor pedals, Racepak Smartwire PDM, Odyssey 925 12V battery
Andy Blackmore Design livery, Glasurit Slate Grey Metallic paint, paint application via Dreamworks Auto Center, 935 K3 body from original molds, Raven K3V ARC 9 Eleven Design headlights by DR Design, Brixton Forged BM01 wheels – 17×10-inch front & 19×12.5-inch rear with bespoke front & rear Brixton turbofans, Toyo Proxes RR tires – 275/40ZR17 front & 345/30ZR19 rear, APR GT-1000 dual-element carbon rear wing, APR high performance splitter, Bisimoto rear carbon Gurney flaps, Rhythms powder-coating, Illustrious Auto Styling wrap & decals, 917 fuel filler cap, CSF GT3 center radiator & dual compact dual-pass oil coolers for inverter, gearbox & battery cooling, Tractuff aluminium heat exchanger filler reservoir with CSF cap, KW V3 coilovers and HLS2 front cup lift kit, Eibach sway bars front & rear, StopTech Level 3 big brake kit – 332mm front & 328mm rear, G&J Brake hard lines
Thanks to my technical partners, and a special thanks to my team: Hedi, Lindsay, Albert, Deron, Erin, Andy, Sam, Brendan, and Marvin. Gratitude is also in order to Rod Chong and Michael Bream. EV tech is lots of fun, but must be handled with care, as it can be extremely dangerous to handle. We are offering a program to preserve client air-cooled engines and gearboxes, while upgrading classic Porsches to this modern conversion. 100% non-invasive and easily reversible. Cheers!