- Austin Barnett of Billetworkz is an adventurous car builder who previously created an RB26-swapped Subaru WRX and now this incredible JDM-themed 1976 Porsche 911.
- The rarest pieces on the 911 are its Auto Garage TBK bumpers, which are the same ones designed for the Yoshida Specials 930 Turbo of Mid Night Racing Team.
- The original flat-six is long gone and in its place is a bulletproof Subaru EJ engine that is conservatively tuned to 450whp.
- More Japanese influences can be found in the Nissan Midnight Purple 3 paint and Work Meister M1 wheels.
- Austin debuted his 911 at the 2022 SEMA Show where it was featured in the Toyo Tires Treadpass and honored in the Top 40 of SEMA Battle of the Builders.
There was a time when we thought putting Japanese wheels on a European car was out of this world. We’ve featured our fair share of cool project cars that led this charge, for example, Terry Nguyen’s Ferrari F430 on Volk Racing TE37 wheels and Jessy Villaruz’s Porsche 997 on Desmond Regamasters. At the time, we considered this to be “JDM-themed” and “JDM-inspired”, but nowadays, you can’t walk a car show without seeing a BMW, Audi, or Porsche on a wheel that comes from RAYS, SSR, or Work. So, what does that mean? JDM frontrunners would need to take things to the next level, which meant sourcing chassis components, engine upgrades, and body styling parts from Japan. To this day, JDM parts for the European car community aren’t plentiful, which just goes to show the lengths that Austin Barnett of Billetworkz went to when it came to building his 1976 Porsche 911.
While I didn’t get a chance to meet Austin at the 2017 SEMA Show, I knew what he was capable of after he debuted a purely mental Subaru Impreza WRX. The Subie was powered by a 700hp RB26DETT engine out of an R34 GT-R, which lay floating in a shaved engine bay. Whether you were a lover or hater for its sacrilegious swap, Austin’s creativity and workmanship were undeniable. So, as you can imagine when he returned to the 2022 SEMA Show with a new build, we would all be in store for something special. Sure enough, he came through a Porsche 911 that’s set the bar for what it means to be JDM-themed in the Euro scene today. The 911 reps more than just Work Meister M1 wheels but is swapped with a turbocharged Subaru EJ engine, has been repainted Nissan’s Iconic Midnight Purple 3, and wears Auto Garage TBK bumpers that originate from a JDM street racing legend.
STREET RACING ORIGINS
The origins of the bumpers date back to 1982 when the Mid Night Racing Team was founded in Japan. This club became infamous worldwide for popularizing illegal street and highway (“wangan”) racing in Japan. Its chairman, Eichii Yoshida, drove a modified Porsche known as the Yoshida Specials 930 Turbo. The 911 was one of the quickest in the club and regularly tipped 200mph on the toll highways of Tokyo.
Circling back to the Auto Garage TBK bumpers, these are the exact ones designed for Yoshida-san’s 930 Turbo to aid top-speed runs. Austin is one of the few lucky ones who have been able to get his hands on the bumpers in the world.
CATCHING UP WITH AUSTIN BARNETT
With the bumpers safely imported and a digital rendering of the build created by Jon Sibal, Austin and build partner Quality Custom Rides spent more than 3,000 hours on the project until it broke ground at the Las Vegas Convention Center. There, it was displayed at the Toyo Tires Treadpass and honored in the Top 40 of SEMA Battle of the Builders. We were graciously blessed with the 911’s presence at our Cars+Coffee Season Opener last year, where we caught up with Austin to take these photos and get to know him a bit more.
This, and the RB-swapped car, are extreme project cars. Have you always looked to push the envelope or was this more of an evolutionary process as you learned more about the cars and their possibilities?
I learned a lot with the RB swapped WRX, so I really enjoy pushing the envelope and building something different since I’ve had that experience. Prior to the RB WRX, I didn’t have the experience but just wanted to work towards building something different. The RB WRX taught me that there is no ceiling to building a car, so I put all of that experience into building the 911 exactly how I envisioned it.
What were some of the more difficult parts of the build to accomplish?
There were definitely some difficult factors from the very beginning. One of the first was obtaining the TBK Auto Garage Bumpers from Japan. At the time, they wouldn’t ship them to the U.S., so I had a friend in Japan purchase the bumpers and then ship them to me. Another hurdle throughout the project was sourcing OEM parts that aren’t being manufactured anymore. The hardest parts to find were actually the OEM stub axles for proper fitment to the custom axles. And of course, probably the toughest factor was the timeframe to complete the car for SEMA. With special thanks to Quality Custom Rides, we put in about 3,000 hours from May 2022 to October 2022 to get the car completed.
Beyond the build itself, what drove you to take an interest in cars in general?
My father has played a massive factor in my love for cars, as I have been a motorhead since a young age because of him. He was the type to push the envelope with his cars and trucks, which is exactly where I got my passion. Unfortunately, he suddenly passed in March of 2022, but I am extremely grateful for all of the quality years I had with him attending car shows and events. The most notable memory I have with him was when we trailered my RB WRX across the country to SEMA 2017.
This build is much more than a car. Talk to us about how this car represents your company Billetworkz’s evolution and growth.
This build is definitely much more than a car, it’s a reflection of myself. Along with my cars, my company Billetworkz is also a reflection of myself. One factor that I really enjoyed about the build was networking with other companies and sponsors. I also enjoy collaborating Billetworkz with other brands so we all can grow together. Building this car has also shown the quality that Billetworkz strives for.