Some times it’s those unlikely places you stumble across an Aladdin’s cave with treasures beyond your dreams and German sports is just that, nestled in a small factory in a small complex located in Sydney’s South Western suburb of Kingsgrove we didn’t know what to expect all we did know was the legend of the stretch Porsche and we had to investigate for ourselves. On arrival we were greeted by the one man operation Agatino Bonanno
Agatino was given the business by his brother Peter Bonanno when Peter was going through a tough period and had too much on his plate to manage and with his wedding car business being so busy thought it the right move. Peter started the business back in 1990 and the idea to build a Stretch Porsche limo came to him a couple of years prior back in 1988 and went about ‘’getting the old brain into gear’’ he say’s and started to draw his plans. It wasn’t much of a stretch for Peter having built and rebuilt Porsche’s for many years and being able to do the work himself ‘’I love them’’ he says.
Unbeknown to Peter his concept car would be the first and only one of its kinds in the world. Peter decided to use a G series (Frog style) 993 convertible for the first because of the fact that they were nice to drive and not too bad to work on, fabricated the chassis, fitted up the running gear wheels, transmission and motor took it for a test run, got the Limo engineered, certified and registered and went about building a second only this time after nutting out the problems with the first and making it slightly better. The second was to be a 964 G series convertible. Being a Porsche the Limo needed to handle and that was one of the strong points of the earlier model so that was not an issue and it had all the handling and the suspension pick up points were ideally situated to carry loads. The car is capable of travelling up to 260klmph (Not that you would ever go that quick Peter says tongue in cheek) and carry a load of 1.5-2 Tonne. The steering rack was moved forward by 1.6m and rear arms also moved and angled meaning the weight distribution is now more up front which works better with a rear mount engine which has given the Limo handling ability on par if not better than the standard convertible being that it handles more like a mid-mount motor and works better in and out of the corners because the weight is further forward which helps when under brakes into the corner and out of the corners (Peter should now having rode in the Super Bike series for many years). The Limo can carry 6 passengers or school formal students or 5 footballers due to their weight and with the driver that’s more than plenty Peter say’s.
Because much of the cars work is for weddings and around town Peter decided to forgo the temptation of using a Turbo and decided to run with the naturally aspirated 3.6ltr Boxster motor with slightly raised compression. The gear box has a slightly taller crown and pinning to take the load. The length of the car is 7.5mtrs weighing a total of 1350kg, all the underside of the car is very similar to standard only refabricated, ‘’The way we engineered worked out very good and that isn’t just because I did it ask anyone who has driven it!’’
Peter had originally built the cars for his hire car business but found the low rates and hassles just not worth pursuing and only concentrates on Weddings now saying ‘’it’s better sticking to the one thing, the stuff that pays and it’s mostly on weekends so if you can’t drive you can always find someone to drive for you! You get to meet nice people go to nice places and know you are helping to make that special day and they pay before the day and you are never chasing money‘’
As mentioned Peter handed the business over to Agatino after his divorce because as Peter put it ‘’He enjoys staying back to 2-3 in the morning working on things’’ A fitter machinist by trade Peter was also studying to become a Mechanical Engineer when he had another bad bike accident which meant he wasn’t able to finish his time but the experience he gained was invaluable to the business and word spread about German sports and quality of work which has meant there was no need to advertise and the clientele have been loyal and very content. Clients come from all around Australia.
I like you have thought the Porsche is the car of legends and only for the rich and famous but Peter was quick to set me straight, ‘’The average Joe’’ as he put it, that bloke on say $60,000 per annum for example could pick himself up a pre-1989 G model Porsche for around $20,000-60,000 depending on its mileage, which would put that particular model on par with the average Australian family sedan. You may by now be thinking ‘’ how can you compare a brand new family sedan to a 20 something year old sports car? Well you have to remember in the way these cars are built and designed they are built to last and the ones that have had problems in Peter’s experience have been due to the owners disregard to servicing and up keep of the vehicle and compared to the average Ford or Holden actually out last’s and outdrives with superior braking and handling and power wise the 3.0 or 3.2ltr Boxster motors still hold their own with most still at 200BHP and whilst the G series isn’t no family sedan the back seat in the 911 still has ample room for a couple of kids (just have funpitching that to the Mrs!) After the age of ten you may find yourself investing in mum’s taxi anyhow.Peter says ‘’you only have to look at the bearings they use (Porsche), the quality build and design of the make and it’s like comparing a good watch, a Seiko to Rolex for example they may both be gold but what makes a Rolex a Rolex is the way it is design’’The earlier oil cooled Boxster is still Peter’s favourite but he thinks the non-oil model is also a quality motor.Whilst to many a couple of stretch Porsche’s would be enough but did I mention the 3rd and second 993 on the build and that isn’t all with the small shop having one more treasure, back in 1985 Peter brought himself a well-known poster/picture of a black 930s or 935 from a local market and fell in love with the car and the picture was hung proudly in his office. In 1992 Peter was in the United States buying Porsche’s (full cars and parts mainly motors and gear boxes) to bring back to Australia and converting them from left hand to right hand drive for sale when as luck would have it along with a couple of other Turbo Porsche’s there stood a nice but damaged 930s, knowing this was a sign Peter put a bid on the 930s and picked it up for peanuts (exactly what he really paid for the treasure is still a mystery but we do know it was under $5000US, which is unbelievable for such a collectable) and for the money he paid for the car was quite happy to sit somewhere for years and it has been exactly what he has done and with only 234 ever made the car can sit there ticking over and getting all the more collectable, Agatino is at odds with his brother and recons the GT3 is the best Porsche built . Such is the motoring pedigree of the Bonanno brothers and their large collection of motorcycles and racing history part two will cover the biker side of the brothers.