Workshop 5001: Where fabulous Porsches are created

Want an über-tuned, uniquely personalised Porsche built by some of the best engineers in the business? You need to know about this LA-based specialist

Marlon Goldberg is a young guy, not yet 40. But he’s spent much of his life (working and personal) around cars – and Porsches most particularly. New York state born and raised, Goldberg has been a mechanic, a Porsche-certified technician, a Porsche new-car salesperson, and did a two-year stint in the earliest days of Singer Vehicle Design (SVD). Got your attention yet?

Goldberg worked with Singer kingpin Rob Dickenson, and others, to set up and define the production process and parts department, and was deeply involved in the build of the company’s first cars. It was a fruitful union, but after some time Goldberg decided he wanted to do things differently, and do a few different things.

Primary among them was to be able to build more bespoke cars, on models and platforms other than Porsche 964s, which are the staple underpinnings of Porsche 911s ‘Reimagined by Singer’. Goldberg and Dickenson parted, and remain, friends.

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It was at this point that Marlon located and acquired a sturdy but tatty warehouse building in the East Adams/Jefferson Park area of Los Angeles. The building was emptied out, cleaned up, restored and remodelled to suit his taste and needs. The original wood-trussed ceiling remains, and looks fabulous. The cinderblock walls also are original.

The floor needed some sections cut out and replaced with steel rebar-reinforced concrete. Plus there was the construction of a very cool, high-roofed, skylighted bath and shower room, with trendy, industriomechanical-looking exposed plumbing and electrical conduiting. Very designy, it’s one of the funkiest and crazy-coolest car/man caves we’ve ever seen; part race shop, museum, Q’s workshop and laboratory.

From there it was a matter of adding lifts, sheetmetal working benches, and racks and racks of tools. Workshop 5001 opened for business in 2014.

During our visit, there were half a dozen ‘done’ cars around, each a testimony to the level of depth and attention to detail to which Goldberg and his small yet highly skilled and dedicated staff go to remanufacture and thoroughly upspec a Porsche.

Each model’s concept, design and componentry tend to be a mix of old-school Porsche ‘greatest hits’ smartly combined with a lot of the latest and best aftermarket and Porsche factory bits and technology. Much like the ethos of Singer Vehicle Design, maximum emphasis is placed on using best-possible finishes, textures and materials; not only in terms of performance potential, but always keeping in mind tactility, aesthetics and design.

Goldberg doesn’t remove and toss out most of the factory Porsche steel panels in order to replace them with carbon-fibre bits. However, when an underlying car shows up with a sunroof, and the customer wants it removed, 5001 does cut out a huge rectangular section of the roof and replace that panel with carbon fibre; light and strong at the top of the car, where weight reduction does a lot of good. He also fits the occasional composite spoiler, bumper or ducktail.

Goldberg likes to build big engines, and he encourages customers to think in terms of 3.6, 3.8 and 4.0-litre flat-sixes. Many a single-sparkplug engine in this shop has been drilled and tapped to make it a twin-plugger, or in some cases the build is based around an already twin-plug 964 motor.

Five and six-speed manual transaxles are the order of the day, with nary a Tiptronic or PDK to be seen. Aerospace-level wiring harnesses are built entirely from scratch, to be even more sophisticated, flexible, robust and reliable than would be a factory harness, with add-ons and patches to handle things such as full programmable MoTeC or Bosch engine-management systems. Every loom is heavily wrapped and uses premium fasteners.

The undercarriages look better, cleaner and shinier than factory fresh; paint, chrome and plating are concours quality. 5001’s standard is ‘best of the best’ componentry, and no matter a given car’s state of tune or performance, think ‘well tailored race car’ – or really fast Fabergé egg.

Our main focus this visit is the eye-popping Mexico Blue ’74 Carrera you see in these photos. It was commissioned by a couple that loves cars, primarily as the wife’s daily driver and weekend autocrosser. Suspension, tyre choice, engine power and sound level can be tailored to individual owners’ tastes, but suffice to say this one is a most ardent car, which should just rake in the trophies on the autocross circuit.

It arrived mostly in a box, and was originally a Sportomatic trans-equipped machine. That particular component soon hit the bin in favour of a fully rebuilt and beefed-up, magnesium-cased 915 transaxle. You may wonder why not a later G50, but Goldberg has had good luck sorting out 915s and making them easy and crisp to shift, plus this mag-cased ’box is the lightest five-speed you can put into a 911.

The engine behind it is indeed a thumper; a proper nat-asp, air-cooled six punched up to 3.8 litres, drilled for twin sparkplugs, running a MoTeC M130 engine-management system, Carrillo rods, Mahle pistons and cylinders, GT3 oil pump and custom-made cams among many other hi-tech and spec-detail mods. The result is 339 high-winding horsepower, with a similarly substantial torque number; do the weight-to-power maths on that for a car weighing around 2300lb with all fluids aboard.

To call this a ground-up build is an understatement; the car was stripped of everything, not a nut, bolt or wire left, and blasted down to the nubbins. Every seam was stitch welded to close any potential rust gaps and, of course, for ultimate structural rigidity. The roof is 5001’s own carbon-fibre panel, and every bushing and bearing is new.

Öhlins provided its latest and greatest raceworthy – and infinitely adjustable – suspension bits, all set firm and furry, yet maintaining suspension travel and meaningful damping. The brakes are Carrera 3.2 calipers, and the master cylinder runs sans power assist. The wheels are refurbished factory Fuchs, wrapped in Pirelli Trofeo R rubber.

A catalyst-free exhaust system runs aftermarket replica RS headers backed by a Dansk Sport dual-outlet muffler. The clutch is a completely user-friendly Sachs unit that avoids the shuddering and abruptness served up by so many pure-race pieces. The MoTeC system not only handles engine-management duties, but an in-car keypad administrates everything from the lights to one-touch power windows.

As you can see, the body has been handworked and rubbed to within a millimetre of its life, and finished in a dazzling rendition of Porsche’s iconic Mexico Blue. The darkish plating on the window frames and other bits and bezels is called black crystallite chrome; a completely modern finish, it retains a subtle retro quality that’s so much more interesting than matte black or just more polish or chrome. Handsome, reputedly durable stuff.

The cabin is über sporty, and nearly as eye popping as the exterior. Stock seats are out in favour of lightweight Recaro shells equipped with multipoint quick-release harnesses. Naturally the rear area is no longer occupied by a flip-down kiddy seat, but fully stuffed with a competition-level roll cage. Quintuple airbags, seat heaters, a bank of refrigerated cupholders, 500 pounds of radio speakers…? Well, forget all that.

Instead, the doors wear unadorned RS-style cards with custom pulls. Ahead of you is the friendly and recognisable 911 gauge array, and you reach up to grip a helpfully dished and proper-looking Momo Prototipo steering wheel. Everything that isn’t painted to match the screaming blue bod is wrapped in yummy yet sturdy deep red leather.

There’s a spinal cord of wiring harness that runs from the front of the car back to the engine compartment, fully encased in OEM-level insulation and wrapping, all held to the floor with ‘zip ties’. Yet these are not the expected off-white or black plastic wire ties; no, each one is hand wrapped in the same leather. That may sound a little over the top, but trust us, they’re fabulous.

Thumb the starter button and the protein-fortified flat-six lights with a chesty bark. This thing is loud. Goldberg can and will build you a car edgier or more reserved than this, and while technically still a licenced-and-lighted street car, it’s getting pretty racy.

The five-speed shifter rides aboard a stock Porsche housing refreshed with Wevo ‘quick-shift’ guts. The clutch feels like that of any normal 911, with smooth, linear take-up about mid pedal. Point the car straight, mat the pedal and the tach snapsweeps to 7000rpm. Snick the shifter into second, rinse and repeat, and you’ll hit 100mph awfully quickly.

The combination of low-end torque and dizzying top-end horsepower is intoxicating. And the noise is like playing the highlights reel of Le Mans on a virtual-reality audio system. The suspension is absolutely committed; some drivers will feel it too stiff for the street, others will revel in the control and response.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of travel, and first-rate damping – tough to pull off in a suspension system that’s far more spherical rod-end jointed than rubber. But it’s as precise as a laser-guided Xacto knife. After ripping around the streets of LA like McQueen in a 917, we park the Blue Meanie.

What does all this speed and beauty cost? Not unlike a car from Singer Vehicle Design, it’s a half million USD, give or take a few details and options. Credit these car owners for stepping up and commissioning something really unique, because it would have been simpler, faster, and less expensive for them to drop into their nearest dealer and spec out a new GT3RS, Huracan or Continental.

But thankfully there are people who want, and can afford, something special and utterly bespoke. Marlon, Ryder, Jason and the rest of the gang at Workshop 5001 will be happy to build it just for them.

Pictures courtesy of Evan Klein

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