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Q&A

WINTER 2022-23

“Made in Stuttgart, Perfected in Parkesburg”

A Q&A with RS-Werks for Fixed Income Insights
About RS-Werks
RS-WERKS Is an Independent Full-Service Porsche Repair, Restoration and Customization Workshop, Dedicated To Crafting 100% Custom Vintage Porsches And Elite High Quality Builds.
From day one our goal has been to help passionate Porsche enthusiasts restore their cars to their former glory with the help of our craftsmanship and huge inventory of rare parts, all under one roof at our workshop in Parkesburg, Pennsylvania.
We have the experience and expertise to execute all levels of restoration under one roof, from custom engine building to full restoration and competition preparation.
Our commitment is to treat your Porsche as one of our own. We believe that by working with us you, and your car, become part of the RS-Werks family.
October 2022

Q&A with RS-Werks principal owner Michael Meldrum and COO Nick Dunlop – along with Mike Nicholas of the BDA’s Fixed Income Insights:

Q
RS-Werks - which I’ve had the pleasure to tour - is a Porsche restoration and customization shop in Parkesburg, Pennsylvania. Can we begin with you talking about your background and what inspired your interest in air-cooled Porsches and in launching and building RS-Werks?
MM. I started in the steel tubular and metals business, initially in Scotland, then I relocated to Texas to spearhead the US expansion. In 2017, private equity bought me out, a life changing event.
My Porsche journey began as a child, my grandfather was a pure Porsche enthusiast, and would take me out for drives, sharing the back seat with his beloved Staffordshire bull terrier. As soon as finance allowed, I purchased a second-hand Boxster in 99 but it was not until 10 years later I had the courage to join the Air-cooled Porsche world. It was a transformative experience, and I embarked upon a deep love affair with air cooled Porsches. Driving events fuelled my passion and sparked a love for upgrading and modifying air cooled Porsche 911’s.
Initially, I was a client of RS-Werks and in 2018 I became a principal owner, it was much smaller back then. It was difficult to find a Porsche specialist to create my dream Porsche, so I was delighted to find RS-Werks.
Finding a reliable subcontractor to execute our high-quality requirements was incredibly difficult, so I decided to invest in a purpose-build facility, with the best specialty equipment and staff to restore and build custom air-cooled Porsches.
Q
RS-Werks is unique I think in that virtually every stage of the restoration and customization process is under one roof and managed by your team in PA. But there are other Porsche “restomod” shops including some nearby in NJ and NY, not to mention several in California. Do you think about these other shops and ways to distinguish or differentiate RS-Werks?
MM. We’re client driven and have structured RS-Werks to best meet their needs. We’re privileged to be part of a vibrant community of Restoration and modification shops, each has varying approaches and niches (or micro niche?, we’re a niche of a niche, of a niche!).

Our biggest differentiator is that we virtually have all processes under one roof, I can only think of 2 similar groups in the USA.

We're very proud of our commitment to executing all our body modifications (when possible) in steel, we have an insanely talented group of metal work artisans. When possible, we lean into building period correct cars using manual techniques of the past for our metalwork.
Less so with our power plants with a mix of old and new depending upon the client’s mission for the car.
And we’re not against installing some creature comforts to make the cars more usable (hidden radios, air conditioning). Air conditioning is a popular option for folks like me based in Texas.
Finally, our willingness to build completely custom commissions sets us apart from most, we have projects where every body panel and bumper has been custom built in metal, a true one of one.
Q
It seems to me from the outside looking in, that more people are interested today in these classic air-cooled cars. Can you speak to the market for restored or modified air-cooled Porsches and how it has evolved over the past several years?
MM. In terms of both volume and enthusiasm, the USA is the heart of the air-cooled Porsche world. Did you know Porsche claims over 70 percent of all Porsche vehicles ever built are still on the road today? Furthermore, the USA was the biggest marketplace for air-cooled Porsche and Porsche Club of America is the largest automotive club in the world.

The USA has an exceptional appetite for customization of cars, hot rod culture, the track-focused 911 GT3 has a worldwide rate of around 25 per cent manual shift and 75 per cent PDK dual-clutch, automatic, but USA Clients order with a two-thirds stick-shift.
I think folks are growing fed up with generic new cars and supercars with mind boggling horsepower and performance statistics. Personally, I am more interested in the feeling and experience and having something a true bespoke car built exactly to my vision.
I have noticed the community is far more educated with regards to the time and cost for a properly executed build or restoration and see some willing to pay a premium to get it done right, more so if they are purchasing a car that has already been done.
Q
Many of the RS-Werks builds - like the IROC Collection - are beautifully modified 911s which I think compare to some of the cars produced by groups like Singer. Are you in the same market and do you view Singer, or others, as competitors?
MM. Our preference for executing in metal vs carbon fibre and the ability to completely customise all aspects of our creations differentiates RS-Werks from Singer and others.
ND. I’d like to add that we are ‘building’ a bespoke vehicle for each client, we are not just assembling parts onto a vehicle. We look at the whole package to ensure components work together in the specific commission we are undertaking for the client. Each commission is unique and tailored to the client, we have a relationship with the client it is not a transaction in our eyes. We engage with the client continually – they have access to a photo library of their commission during the build process.
Q
These restored 911s are not just for anyone. Can you speak to the cost and time - generally - of taking in an air-cooled 911 from a client and restoring it to something beyond its original glory?
ND. Our guideline for a full build is very dependent on the state of each donor vehicle we start with and what the commission's scope is, however 24 months is a good steer. We do have a waitlist to commence projects. When we agree on a commission, we also define the payment schedule which is based on meeting production milestones – i.e. we perform a stage of work, the client can see the results and make payment. Our commissions do range in cost but a guide would be $175K to $350K excluding the donor vehicle.
Q
RS-Werks is a unique and in many respects a “do it all” restoration shop for air-cooled 911s. Is it difficult to find the staff needed to do the job and to appreciate the history and passion of these vintage Porsches? In many respects these are real artisans and not pure mechanics, welders, etc. Do you train staff in-house?
ND. As with any industry & company we do rely on talented staff. We restore / rebuild / rectify rather than replace parts – so we look for employees who are multi-talented artisans rather than the dealer technicians. This is not just a job to our staff, there is drive, passion & enthusiasm which allows the staff to produce an outstanding result. We have a range of ages and skills but most important is we are a team with each team member adding value to each commission.
Q
What is the future for RS-Werks? Will you maintain just the one shop in Pennsylvania or is there interest or demand in expanding to other US regions or overseas?
MM. Organic growth through word of mouth and folks seeing the quality of our work in the wild. We have clients from all over the world, typically clients are comfortable commissioning a build from afar.
It is incredibly complicated to restore and modify a Porsche correctly, the time and resources required to replicate the team's specialty equipment is cost prohibitive and discourages opening additional facilities.
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1909 K St, NW
Suite 510 Washington, DC 20006
202 204 7907
202 204 7907
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