21st Century Mid-Night: Austin Barnett's 1976 Porsche 911

21st Century Mid-Night: Austin Barnett's 1976 Porsche 911

Mid-Night Club played a pivotal role in shaping underground car culture in Japan. The group was known for pushing the boundaries of speed and technology, and their activities set the stage for what would later become a global phenomenon. Members of Mid-Night were often at the forefront of automotive technology. They pushed the limits of their cars, experimenting with various mods and tuning techniques. The influence of Mid-Night on tuning culture cannot be overstated. Cars associated with Mid-Night, like the R34 Skyline and Toyota Supra, achieved instant notoriety among aftermarket enthusiasts. Documentaries, books, and videos of Mid-Night would go on to influence generations of car enthusiasts for years to come. One of those enthusiasts was our friend Austin Barnett, owner and operator of Billetworkz.

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Barnett’s name is one that might ring some bells if you’re a long-time reader, or maybe if you’re a SEMA vehicle aficionado. Formerly gracing the halls of SEMA, as well as the cover of an issue of PASMAG was his previous build - a Subaru WRX hatchback with an RB26DETT power plant built under his Billetworkz name. Wild as it may have been, that build was just a stepping stone on the way to his latest dream car, which would be built in collaboration with Mike Heim of Quality Custom Rides. When we met up with Barnett at SEMA 2022, he had something new to show us: A 1976 Porsche 911 with its original air-cooled boxer engine removed and replaced by a Subaru EJ25. Before you ask (everyone does), no, it’s not the engine from his previous WRX.

The influence of Mid-Night is immediately apparent. The Auto Garage TBK front and rear bumpers give the sophisticated Porsche 930 a dose of JDM flair, and serve as a fitting allusion to Mid-Night Porsches of the past, including the infamous Yoshida Specials 930 - the prized possession of Mid-Night Club’s chairman Eichii Yoshida, and direct inspiration for Wangan Midnight’s “Blackbird” Porsche - or even the current Vice President’s own 964. Almost too on-the-nose, the paint is a variation of Midnight Purple III by Cande Shop. Even the GT Racing RSR 3.6 rear deck lid hints at the modified Frankenstein nature of this unique 930. These design choices are subtle to most, but for fans in the know, those are the first things they notice.

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The 930’s appearance is a fitting tribute to the Bayshore Route’s golden era, without saying it outright via unearned window banners or knockoff Mid-Night decals. For the most part, that is where the similarities with the Bayshore route’s street racing Porsches ends. There’s no 600+ whp monster behind the cabin, but that doesn’t make the engine setup of Barnett’s Porsche any less impressive - especially since high-stakes street racing isn’t on his to-do list. That said, it’s no slouch either. The EJ25 in the rear consists of an IAG900 long block and stage 4 heads, with air flow bolstered by a Corsa Veloce intake manifold and a Garrett G30-660 turbo. Fuel demand is met by ID3000 injectors, and the whole engine setup is managed by LinkECU. All in, it makes a conservative 450 whp and 400 lb-ft of torque, with potential for more if desired, and it looks incredible thanks to Barnett’s fabrication and color-coordination.

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The drivetrain is a showcase in a bit of mechanical wizardry, as you might expect. The transmission is plucked from a 2006-2007 model WRX, and the differential setup uses a reverse ring and pinion gear setup to accommodate for its backwards setup. The transmission itself is equipped with a PPG gearset with straight-cut first and second gears, and a helical cut third and fourth. Competition Clutch handles the twin-disc clutch demands of the added power and Franken-drivetrain, and EMPI chromoly axles with Porsche 930 CV joints ensure that power makes it to the ground without too much drivetrain drama. The classic Porsche is given some modern touches in the cockpit, without venturing too far into digital instrumentation and pulling it out of its period-correct styling. Recaro Classic LS seats keep the vibe of the era alive, while an Exact Art reupholstery job sets it apart with a leather and alcantara medley featuring purple stitching throughout, including a rework of the custom Momo steering wheel from Carbon Fiber Element. Completing the theme in style is one of Barnett’s own Billetworkz creations, their Purple Cosmic Space Tall Teardrop shift knob atop the Numeric Racing short shifter kit.

While the car won’t be doing high speed laps of the Bayshore route anytime soon, this 911 could certainly handle it, and the aura of that capability is exuded in its appearance. The iconic silhouette of the 930 is treated to an aggressive stance largely thanks to Elephant Racing suspension setup. That setup includes their own coilovers, GT3 front suspension arms, a Porsche 935 spring plate kit, and sway bars in the front and rear. The 18-inch Work Meister M1 wheels continue aforementioned JDM flair at ground level, wrapped in Toyo R888R tires for the utmost grip.

The result of several years work, and the help of some incredible build partners like Jon Sibal and Mike Heim of Quality Custom Rides, has turned Barnett’s dream Porsche that he purchased back in 2018 into his dream build thanks to an esstimated 4,000 hours of combined work over the course of the build. Barnett's magnum opus was inspired by his late father. His dad is directly responsible for his passion for cars. Having seen the renders of the Porsche by Jon Sibal before his passing, we know Barnett's father is proud of what he achieved with this one. Nestled in the hills of Lancaster County, PA, Barnett’s 930 makes itself at home on the twisty roads, open highways, and parking lots of local coffee shops - a true do-it-all vehicle true to the Porsche 911’s ethos.

Images courtesy of Daniel Wohlers (@leftlane.media)

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