Theon Design reveals CHI001, its latest bespoke commission

Theon Design has revealed its latest bespoke development, a fully restored and enhanced Porsche 911 (964)-based commission for its first customer in Chile, featuring a lightweight carbon body paired with semi-active suspension and a 400bhp 4.0-litre flat six.

Combining ‘OEM+’ design, quality and manufacturing techniques with uncompromising attention to detail CHI001 is, like all Theon creations, an example of the company’s world-class design and engineering expertise, delivering on the company’s objective of distilling and enhancing the essence of the air-cooled 911. Theon Design is the brainchild of Adam Hawley, a Porsche obsessive with more than two decades of automotive design experience at prestigious OEMs such as BMW, JLR, Lexus and Lotus, who also helped design Airbus A380 luxury interiors. Under Hawley, Theon Design seeks to make each car it creates lighter, more powerful and even more visceral to drive than the original on which it is based, while at the same time paying careful homage to Porsche’s methodology and engineering ethos.

“Our intent is clear,” explains Hawley. “We apply an OEM-grade approach with Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and
manufacture to enhance a classic Porsche, delivering the best possible quality. At the same time, we are careful to honour Porsche’s heritage and engineering ethos; we’re totally focussed on lightweight construction and delivering truly engaging driving dynamics. CHI001 pushes this to new heights and is fantastic example of what Theon Design is capable of.” The company is based in the UK’s ‘Motorsport Valley’ in Oxfordshire, home to an array of auto and racing technology companies and technicians – the ideal location in which to assemble a small team of passionate engineers and establish relationships with trusted suppliers.

High-tech lightweight body 

As with all of Theon Design’s bespoke commissions, CHI001 is based on a 911 (964) that has been stripped back and fully restored, using numerous design cues from Porsche models past and present. CHI001 is the first Theon Design creation to feature carbon fibre for the vast majority of the body, with the lightweight composite material used for the roof, bonnet, engine lid, spoiler, bumpers and sill covers, while only the doors are steel – to aid side impact protection. Lightweight black Kevlar is then used for the wheelarch liners.

For the bespoke body, each component was digitised and modelled in 3D design software to ensure ultimate precision and perfect panel fit – enabling Theon to tailor individual details to the customer’s exact specification. While CHI001 is very much cutting-edge in its construction, it also features an evocative nod to the past with its custom Viola Metallic paint, a colour first seen on the 30th Anniversary Porsche 911 (964) of 1993. CHI001’s 17” Fuchs style wheels feature body-coloured centres, with champagne-coloured petals and outer rims, while the special paint is complemented by Noble Chrome brightwork. Theon’s unflinching attention to detail is also demonstrated by the Royal Purple Porsche script and strips, which match the brake callipers and interior leather. “At Theon, attention to detail is everything,” explains Hawley. “You can see this not only with the stunning exterior of CHI001, but also wherever you look under the skin. Every single component on the car is treated with the same degree of focus, whether visible or not.”

Under the skin 

Theon’s determination to elevate the onroad performance of each commission is reflected in the painstaking analysis and optimisation of every element of the car; each component scrutinised with a view to enhancing performance, quality and aesthetics. Such an approach is evident all over CHI001, where the driving experience is made even more engaging and capable, thanks to the fitment of Theon’s hydroelectric power-steering, a switchable exhaust and RS-spec semi-active suspension from specialists TracTive, which provides independent damping control and ensures all road surfaces are handled with aplomb. The driver can switch between 5 tailored damper modes, selected via a milled aluminium rotary switch integrated into the centre console – lending CHI001 great breadth of dynamic ability.

CHI001 uses TracTive’s ‘Active Controlled Electronics’ (ACE) system, which offers completely independent damping – with active roll and pitch control for optimised suspension performance in all driving scenarios. TracTive’s hightech system ensures CHI001 remains stable and unruffled under braking, with improved composure on corner entry, greater precision through the apex, and transformed traction when accelerating out of a corner. Road undulations are perfectly managed by each individual damper, maximising compliance and grip at all times. Inside each TracTive ACE damper is a patented Dynamic Damping Adjustment (DDA) valve controlled by a sensitive multiaxis g-sensor and advanced algorithm, has been developed across decades of on-road and on-track testing. With a dynamic proportional valve operating as a bypass, the TracTive damper units have an especially large range of damping adjustment, and are capable of reacting in an industry-leading 6-10 milliseconds. With such lightning responses, TracTive ACE system’s performance is elevated far above that of conventional damper systems; grip levels in all conditions are vastly improved, maximising each tyre’s contact patch. CHI001’s braking system is also heavily uprated with carbon discs and pads delivering tremendous, fade-free stopping power. At the rear of the car, an active wing sits atop the engine cover – ensuring perfect aero balance whatever the speed. Elsewhere, a custom aero grade wiring loom with MoTeC Power Distribution Modules further helps reduce weight, while a modern, lightweight air-conditioning system with dual condensers is fitted at the front of the car – shedding even more kilos and improving weight distribution. With all fluids and a full tank of fuel, CHI001 weighs just 1164kg.

The famous aircooled flat six – enhanced 

Theon Design offers a wide choice of aircooled flat-six-cylinder engine options, encompassing naturally-aspirated units that range in capacity from 3.6 to 4.0 litres, with supercharging or turbocharging also possible. CHI001 was commissioned with a naturally-aspirated 4.0-litre motor. Producing 400bhp and 350 lb ft of torque, and fitted with a single mass flywheel, it majors on throttle response and aural thrills with bespoke independent throttle bodies developed with Shropshire-based Jenvey Dynamics, paired with Theondesigned trumpets, all of which add to the visceral intake noise. A carbon fibre shroud aids engine cooling and further enhances under bonnet aesthetics.