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Charles Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection explains why flowers bloom, why snakes are venomous, and why we walk on two legs. It’s mind-boggling to think how billions of random mutations are design iterations that battle each other—to the death—for dominance. It’s a brutal world out there… billions of years in the making.
In the race of evolution, humans came out on top—but not because we’re faster, bigger, or have sharper teeth. It’s because we’re smarter. Our big brains figured out we could use tools for hunting… and creating.
Automobiles evolve similarly—especially racing machines. Discoveries lead to design iterations proven on the race track. Good ideas win, while bad ideas lose. In the 1970s, cars started spouting wings, and like humans discovering the utility of fire, motorsports discovered the tremendous power of The Ground Effect.
But what if Darwin was a car nerd, and the oil-stained evolutionary path veered in a different direction? Here’s where brothers Iliya and Nikita Bridan…Darwins of car design, had a dream. They wanted to create a rolling business card for their automotive design consultancy, OilStainLab.
Regarding “vintage” racing, the 1960s dominated the conversation. However, the 1970s are often overlooked. That’s too bad because race cars never stopped getting faster despite the smog-strangled snoozers rolling off Detroit assembly lines. It was a time when sex was safe, and cars were dangerous…and often deadly.
But what if Porsche based their hairy-chested racing machines on 911s? What if they could be driven home after taking the checkered flag? What if we used modern 3D printing and prototyping technology to build one? What if we could create more than one?
The Bridans wanted to honor the designs and heroes of racing’s golden era. Nikita Bridan recalls, “The project started as a sketch that was more like a 70’s open-wheel car.” Influences from Porsches dominating sports cars took over, and the result has strong whiffs of the legendary Porsche 917/30—arguably one of the most powerful race cars ever produced. Its chassis was fashioned from—get this—welded aluminum tubing and was pushed by a turbocharged flat twelve engine sporting 1,600 horsepower. If it sounds like a recipe for speed, it was. Was it dangerous? Hell yes.
While the OilStainLab Half11 doesn’t sport a grand and a half of horsepower, it certainly ticks the design boxes on the Bridans’ punch list. It’s raw and mechanical. Want stability control? Use the steering wheel. Traction control? Use your foot.
Being fans of the German automaker’s vintage air-cooled designs, the Bridans started with the tub of a 1966 Porsche 911. The production-car platform (and, most importantly, its VIN) makes this monstrosity street-legal… even in California. The creators dubbed the project “Half11” because it’s literally half of a Porsche 911. What’s in the other half is where the story lives.
Though accomplished designers and hot-rodders in their own right, the Bridans knew it would take strategic partnerships with specialized fabricators and industry partners to make the Half11 a reality. Most of the original ’66 Porsche’s structure was hacked off and discarded, including the roof and everything behind the driver’s seat. That’s where a 650-horsepower 5.8-liter LS-based mill built by JMS Racing Engines lives. The induction and exhaust systems visually dominate the powerplant. The former is an Inglese eight-stack system controlled by a Holley Terminator EFI system, and the latter is a 180-header setup that’s not bent tubing. It’s 3D printed Inconel.
You read that right. Careful inspection of the exhaust system reveals a surface texture and detail that isn’t bent tube but rather welded-up 1mm-thick sections of Inconel that have been “printed” by MIMO Technik in Torrance, California. Welcome to The Matrix, Neo.
Poking around the back of the Half11 is a visual easter egg hunt, thanks to fabricator Joe Scarbo and his team at Scarbo Performance. There are incredible details everywhere. The dry-sumped small block is mated to a Porsche 996 GT2 gearbox that’s been flipped around to accommodate the Half11’s mid-engine layout. The suspension is a mix of 70’s F1 and modern Indycar. The Öhlins dampers are operated via bell cranks straight from modern open-wheel racers. The uprights are fabricated from plate steel, and the rear wing is hand-formed aluminum using vintage techniques. An LED strip along the wing's trailing edge illuminates for brake and turn signals.
Ahead of the low roll bar is a spartan interior featuring low-back bucket seats, an Alcantara steering wheel, and a wooden shift knob. The dash is hand-formed and houses a gauge cluster from a 911 SC. Ahead of the dash, hand-formed bodywork by Jake Krotje is based upon the ’66 911’s hood and covers a Porsche 935-esque front suspension. Avon bias ply tires and custom-made Rotiform wheels are at all four corners. Total weight? 1,800 pounds.
The “prototype” labels plastered across the bare aluminum bodywork are more than a hint—it’s genuinely a prototype being developed in the wild. Unlike the manufacturers with which the Bridans currently work, the Half11 is evolving in full view of the public and on a much faster timescale than Darwin’s natural selection. Nikita Bridan offers, " There will never be a car like this one, nor will it remain constant or frozen. It's the first stepping stone in the evolutionary cycle of the half11 project—a glimpse into the evolutionary process in an expedited timeframe. It has good and bad things, refinements needed, and lessons learned. It's rare to see a prototype in the automotive space, with most companies reluctant to show their car, inviting scrutiny, debate, and misunderstanding. An industry that is super secretive. But we are showing ours and publicly driving it. Offering everyone a behind-the-scenes look at how an idea becomes a product.”
In the meantime, let’s enjoy the evolutionary process.