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Porsche 964 Demonstrates Why Nardo is Still the Best Gray of All Time
BY Sam Du //
August 30, 2021
@duspeed
Photography: Drew Manley
@cooled.collective
Owner: Aaron Espino
@a1espino
  • The 1989 Porsche Carrera 4 Coupe comes with a 3.6-liter naturally aspirated rear-mounted flat-six engine, five-speed manual transmission, and all-wheel drive.
  • Aaron Espino purchased the car from Fatlace’s Mark Arcenal in 2014, then made it his own, most notably with a Nardo Gray paint job.
  • Top shelf parts are found throughout, including rebuilt BBS E88 wheels, retrofitted Akrapovic titanium exhaust, and H&R coilovers.

In front of you is a 1989 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 that goes by “Nardo64”. Hailing from Southern California, this illustrious 964 resurfaced four years ago with a makeover and repainted in what is easily Audi’s most iconic color, Nardo Gray. Needless to say, the color looks right at home on the 911, despite it never meant to wear a Porsche crest. Aside from the repaint, owner Aaron Espino has developed the coupe over the years to become one of the more standout air-cooled 911s in the U.S. It’ll piss of the purists, but that’s okay. Loads of custom work and high-quality aftermarket parts give the 964 swagger and much respect from enthusiasts. Just look at those rebuilt BBS Motorsport E88 wheels, the custom-fitted Akrapovič exhaust, and the plush Alcantara/leather interior. Attention to detail isn’t spared in the engine compartment either. With titanium and carbon fiber elements spread throughout, plus a host of other little modifications performed by Sleepers Speed Shop to create an extremely tidy bay. This 964 is a work of art that modified car fans of all ages and backgrounds aspire to. Now, if only the price of used 911s would go down so we can afford to build one for ourselves.

INTERVIEW WITH AARON ESPINO

Tell us a bit of your history with modifying cars.  
I’ve been messing around and modifying cars since I was 16 when I first got my license. From doing motor swaps in Hondas, street racing in the ‘90s in Sylmar, Ontario, and Gardena, then getting into the BMW world. Now I’m onto Porsches.

What is it that you do for a living?
I work for American Honda Corp. Been here for 24 years. My love for Hondas is where it all started. And until now, I will always know and remember my roots.

What made you want to enter the world of Porsches?
Nothing really inspired me to personally buy or mod a 911. It’s just pretty much whatever car I can get my hands on. It will definitely be worked on!

When did you pick up the 964?
Got the car in 2014. I’ve been eyeing this particular car when Mark Arcenal originally owned it. Fast forward several years, and being in the right place and time and knowing the right people, the car was in my garage a couple months later. Haha!

Why Nardo Gray?
The original color on my 964 was Baltic Blue. Nothing wrong with that color, but I wanted something different. When I first saw Nardo on an Audi R8 back in 2015, there was no other route for my color choice.

Have a favorite mod or part on the car?
If I could break it down, I would say that I love how the way the car handles and how dialed in the car feels when driving it. With the help of the H&R Deep coilovers, Sleepers Speed Shop “Dreamsicle” X-bars, Eibach sways, and Elephant Racing drop links and tie rods.

Anything troublesome to install or do?
Leather wrapping my roll bars. Thanks to Arthurs Upholstery in Pasadena, it was his first time doing this work, and he pulled it off perfectly! It was very time-consuming with the individual leather pieces, the stitching, and adding zippers at the correct locations, so I could easily get to the bolt points if I needed to remove it for any reason. Very detailed with his type of work for a custom job like this.

What was your favorite memory of the car?
It has to be getting it back from the paint shop and upholstery shop with a full complete exterior color and interior change. It was completely a new car, and it felt like it was the first day this car really became mine.

Roughly how long did the build take?
A year straight, but it’s really hard to say when I keep finding new mods till this day. It’s a never-ending money pit. I just love to find new looks and keep the car evolving to something different.

Which brings me to the question. Do you have quite a few different sets of wheels for the 911?
Yes, I do have three sets of BBS, actually four sets if you want to count the set on my E91 wagon. I can’t seem to find another brand of wheels that I would roll on my 964. BBS is probably the best-known and most respected high-performance motorsport wheel in the world. If it works on the track. It works for me on the street. They are all special to me in their own way. The classic E88 with gold centers and polished lips is the OG combo. My favorite setup is my custom-built E88s by Butzi Gear — brushed smoked clear centers with polished black lips. And for shits and giggles, I flip-flopped both sets and rolled out with gold centers with black polished lips. At this moment now, I’m rocking my smoked centers with polished lips. Finally, I have a set of E01s whenever I’m bored of my look. Haha!

Quite the collection of BBS! Who would you like to thank?
First, I would like to start with Mark Arcenal for letting this car go, Len and the whole pit crew at Sleepers Speed Shop, Auto Explosion for paint, Arthurs for Upholstery, Ernie at HD Motorwerks, Butzi Gear, James Floss Wheel Builder, Chris at Wisecraft Fab, Andrew with CooledCollective, my Coolfuch Boys, and last but not least, my wife for supporting my hobby and letting me enjoy my passion for cars!

What’s next for the Porsche?
Grow old with it, and I can’t wait for my daughter and son to drive it and take it over. I’ll just be the passenger.


Aaron Espino | 1989 Porsche 911 Carrera 4

ENGINE:3.6-liter flat-six engine, FVD Brombacher Sport 71mm throttle body, FVD Brombacher intake, Rennline RS single belt pulley conversion, Rennline carbon fiber heater bypass, Fabspeed headers, Akrapovic titanium exhaust retrofitted from 991.2 GT3, Sleepers Speed Shop titanium heater delete plate, rerouted A/C lines, solenoids, check valves and vacuum lines, deleted cruise control, shaved intake manifolds, SWChips performance chip
TRANSMISSION:five-speed manual, FVD Brombacher transmission mount
SUSPENSION:H&R Deep coilovers, Sleepers Speed Shop X-brace, Eibach sway bars, Spoon Sports rigid collar set, Elephant Racing adjustable drop links and tie rods
BRAKES:993 Turbo Brembo calipers, 944 Turbo rotors
WHEELS & TIRES:18-inch BBS Motorsport E88 wheels, Toyo R888R tires
EXTERIOR:Nardo Grey paint, Michael Shaw Design ducktail, H4 headlights, FVD Brombacher brake ducts and RS center bumper, 993 rear window spoiler and brake light
INTERIOR:OMP 997 Cup steering wheel, Rothsport Racing quick release, Recaro Pole Position seats, RS door panels, Alcantara dash and roof lining, GMG Racing leather-wrapped roll bars, FVD Brombacher gauge face kit, Rennline floorboards and pedals

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