When I step through the door of an innocuous looking industrial unit in Dubai’s Al Quoz district, I’m met with one hell of a sight. Taking pride of place amid a sea of spacers, rivets and spanners is the meanest looking Porsche 993 I’ve ever seen. It’s black, low, wide and highly modified. A crowd of people are standing around it, just looking. Except for a slightly scruffy, diminutive Japanese man, dressed in black, who’s hard at work putting the finishing touches to his creation. The rest of the assembled throng are letting him get on with it, watching with awe.
This man is Akira Nakai, the man behind RAUH-Welt Begriff, the German term for Rough World Concept, a firm established 10 years ago in Chiba, Japan. He’s held in huge esteem by the growing number of RWB fans around the world, bewitched by his one-off creations. Nakai-san builds customised Porsches with a Japanese twist for his customers, notable not just for their extreme looks but also for the incredible attention to detail he pays. Each car he builds, for customers all around the globe, is unique. It’s created without plans, blueprints, drawings or even sketches. RWB cars are probably as close to automotive art as it’s possible to get and as such are highly sought after.
This particular car is being built at the Living Classics workshop for Dubai businessman Zafer Taher, who discovered the cult of RAUH-Welt after reading about the firm on crankandpiston (where else?!). He contacted Nakai-san, and the process began. Nakai flew in from Japan, met with Zafer and his wife, spent a few days discussing likes and interests, and then left, while Zafer sourced a base car for him to work on.
After much searching, he bought a low-mileage 1997 993 Turbo, with a factory S kit, from a friend. And then promptly had it completely disassembled. Meanwhile, back in Japan, Nakai-san was creating the necessary parts. “He told me to paint the car in gloss black and that’s all I need to do,” Zafer recalls. “Then the parts started showing up from Japan, the body kit and the wing, little bits and pieces with hand written notes. ‘Paint it black’, ‘leave it’, stuff like that. So in the workshop I was doing exactly what he wanted.” Once it was painted, and the interior done, that’s when Nakai flew in.