Given our track record, it’s probably a little hard to believe that Keiron and I don’t intentionally seek out projects that provoke knee-jerk reactions. However, I promise you there is no ‘trigger’ pay packet bonus here at Speedhunters. If there was, both of our projects would probably be further along.
While I’m being honest, as much I’m becoming accustom to expecting the unexpected with Keiron’s photoshoots, his curve balls seem to be getting wilder with each pitch. Seeing an eyeless Porsche staring back at me from within this photoset, ‘Here we go again…’ was about all I could say before getting down to business.
Considering the photos breaking up these paragraphs, I’ll grant you skepticism regarding our unintentional, yet continuous sparking of powder kegs. Kyle’s Mustang, Live To Offend’s E30 and Mike’s K-powered Ferrari – these are all builds that have veered from paths previously considered acceptable.
The appropriately-named ‘Half11′ is no less of a departure from roads well-travelled. A Porsche 911 carved up more than a festive Turkey might seem like sacrilege for social media’s sake, but this car is actually a homage to motorsport of the 1960s and ’70s – an era its designers view as one of the most romantic.
To better explain how and why this car is a homage rather than a desecration, I first need to better introduce the parties involved.Oil-Filled Pens
Oil Stain Lab is the creative umbrella under which twin brothers Iliya and Nikita Bridan operate. The Ukrainian-born, Canadian-raised and Italian-educated siblings have found home in California. Neither brother grew up with a wrench in their hand, a point worth noting before proceeding with this article. The Half11 project is as much a design experiment as it is a real-world vehicle.
“We (mostly) drew cars and dinosaurs as kids… it’s much easier to design cars as profession than it is dinosaurs,” Nikita explained, before quickly adding “unless you work for a film studio”.
After formal education, both Iliya and Nikita went through several rounds of on-the-job training. Individually, they have built names for themselves by being incredibly methodical with their design approach. Typically working for companies with at least a tangential connection to cars, they are as capable designing quarter panels as they are advertising panels.
In a designer’s 9-5 (rarely does such a thing exist) they are challenged to deliver clients’ needs, even when those needs are radically unclear.
Client work has made Iliya and Nikita’s skin incredibly thick when it comes to criticism. So, comparatively any negative feedback the Half11 has received online has simply been regarded as par for the course.
Both are thankful that their day jobs keep them very busy. The fruits of their labor have also allowed them the resources necessary to play with cars in their limited ‘down’ time.
That time between client emails and personal commitments is where Oil Stain Lab was born. It has always existed to be an escape, and as a result there’s never been a reason to compromise or play things safe.
Therefore, a 911 with an F1 car shoved up its rear end seems like a perfectly reasonable idea.
Crass aside, before we get to the nuts and bolts, I feel it worthwhile to mention again that this is a fun project for the Bridan brothers.
Their tongue and cheek approach to the build as a whole is evident via the IKEA-themed ad above. Could you imagine an IKEA-produced car? Hopefully they’d add a bit more length to those damn Allen wrenches.
Oil Stain Lab has extended their imagination to a robust ‘alternate history’ of the Half11’s conception too.
“The ‘alternate history’ images have actually upset people the most,” Nikita explained. Simply put, some self-proclaimed Porsche ‘experts’ have become wildly upset to learn this car never raced historically, nor was it ever experimented with in secret, despite images that suggest it may have.
I have not waded through all the comments on Oil Stain Lab’s social media accounts, but one can only imagine the confusion among Porsche enthusiasts when they realize they’ve been subject to a deep fake. It’s one of the more clever ways I’ve seen a company build project buzz in some time.
For the Bridans, rooting their project in the aesthetic of the 1960s and 1970s has really helped ground it. “Racing in the ’60s and ’70s was the peak era for many enthusiasts,” said Nikita as he described his passion for motorsport designs of that time period.
As someone that’s never been much more than a casual motorsports fan, I must agree with Nikita’s assessment. That era is particularly enticing simply because it’s so stripped down. The raw pursuit of speed and comparatively rudimentary understanding of vehicle design and aerodynamics led to some of the most creative and celebrated vehicles in motorsport history. Adding to that, these cars were piloted by true gladiators with unique personalities.
From a purely fandom perspective, it then makes perfect sense that a model of a Tyrrell P34 wheel sits in the studio.
It also makes sense that a six-wheeled version of the Half11 also exists within Oil Stain Lab’s alternate timeline.That’s Cool, But Is The Half11?
The Half11 is the progression of what the Bridans call a small collection of hot-rodded 911s. Having done your typical purist – and a few non-purist – modifications, they wanted to make a drastic departure from ‘standard Porsche’.
A car that simply looked different wouldn’t be enough, however. It had to be uniquely engineered as well.
Naturally, the project was approached in a way that mirrored Iliya and Nikita’s professional endeavors. With design language rapidly developing thanks to their alternate history, sketches hit the table at a fever pace. During this process, the brothers occupied both ends of the boardroom table, as the clients and also as the agency.
When I asked if the pair learned to fabricate as part of the Half11 process, Nikita explained that despite having an extensive interest in automobiles, their hands-on experience started rather late. “I didn’t learn to drive stick until 25, and hadn’t done an oil change until about then either. So no, we didn’t do the heavy fabrication.”
Joe Scarbo from Scarbo Performance took the brothers’ original drawings and turned them into functional designs using SolidWorks software. From there, Joe got to work creating the chassis in DOM tubing and the suspension components in heat-treated 4130 chromoly.
Joe is one of a handful of wonderfully talented people that have been roped into this car’s construction. During the design process, he ensured the chassis would work as people would both expect and demand it to. In particular, keeping the car to the overall height the design called for has proven quite the challenge. As a point of reference, the dash has been lowered roughly 2.25-inches from where it originally sat in the 911.
The goal all said and done, is a vehicle that is about the height of a Ford GT40. In person, the Half11 has a huge presence, despite actually being rather small.
Driveline angles become problematic the more you squish a car and Joe spent considerable time in this area making it all work.
A lot of care went into reworking and redeveloping ideas without changing the overall aesthetic. Today, the engine sits as low as it physically can while retaining drivability.
On the topic of engines, yes, that is indeed a Chevrolet JMS Racing LS-based V8 mated to a GT2 996 gearbox. Is a pushrod V8 the most creative power plant? Perhaps not, but with so many irons on the fire, shoehorning in a German-built V8 or a turbo air-cooled motor is something that can come later.
The de-stroked V8, complete with ITBs and a wild exhaust, should still sound pretty exotic from deep within the back of this car.‘Inspired By’
Joining Joe in the hands-on department is metal fabricator Jake Krotje. Jake, or ‘The Flying Dutchman’ as he’s often known, is the metal madman that constructed the ‘911’ out of aluminum. This project did start with a VIN-equipped chassis (this will aid in street registration later), but very little of that core remains today.
Similar to Singer creations and builds of similar nature, this Half11 can be viewed as a re-imagination.
It’s a small wrinkle the brothers have to consider when marketing the project, as they do plan on producing them as a boutique vehicle. With a company motto that reads ‘We Live For Creating Dreams’ it only makes sense they start with their own.
But, let’s not put carts before horses here – there is still a huge amount of work to be done before the Half11 is ready to be manufactured beyond this prototype.
Much of what you see in the various renders has become reality using modern production methods. The very intricate exhaust for example has been printed with Inconel powder – cutting-edge tech for a vehicle with its roots in the past.
Since these photos, the Half11 was taken to Riley Stair, another individual whose name is closely associated with a number of outlandish builds. Riley handled the final wiring and plumbing of the car.What’s Next?
At this point, the natural question would be what’s next for the project? This is where things get interesting. The car pictured will always belong to the Bridan brothers. It’s a test mule, so it will continue to exist in somewhat of a fluid state.
Will the production cars, if produced, have the same dampers, wheels and hand-cut slicks? Maybe, maybe not.
The same question can be asked of the engine. Switching to a more exotic powerplant – which is something many have called for – would suit the wild nature of the design, but would also require reworking the back half of the chassis.
At that point, if things are to be extended, then perhaps the wheel diameter would need to be upsized to handle the new elongated footprint. This plays with the visuals of the final result, so it’s currently low on the list of items to be addressed.
The future is uncertain for most things, and most definitely the Half11.
By the time you read this, the car will have completed its very first track day at Buttonwillow Raceway Park. Provided all went well and the Half11 doesn’t come back down to the studs, we hope to catch up with it again in the future for an in-depth feature.
Until then, enjoy the madness in the gallery below and follow the build on Oil Stain Lab’s Instagram.
Photos by Keiron Berndt