When Matt Farah left the potholed streets of New York for sunny Los Angeles, he didn’t anticipate the roads to be so lousy. The pockmarked streets of the sprawling city required something with suspension travel—something which could absorb undulations. Though his large-but-comforting Ford Raptor was supple enough, he still wanted something small enough to negotiate cramped streets, since wherever he went, he found it to be “awfully crowded.”
That list of requirements brings something resembling a rally car to mind. Many could go for a Subaru or something of its ilk, but Farah wanted something a little uncommon. Fortunately, he’s a well connected journalist, and once he had the chance to try the very first of of Leh Keen‘s Safari 911s, he knew what kind of car he had to have. Not only would it work for grocery getting and commuting through the mean streets, but it would have a distinct personality.
Keen’s been building these go-anywhere 911s for the better part of the last decade. Their base must be a G-series 911 (’79-’89), which Keen is happy to source. Farah decided to find his own, since he wanted to choose “the color, the year, and the interior.” He picked a ’87 3.2 Carrera for its direct shifting feel. He took a rally racer’s approach to preserving the unusual Cassis Red color with an Xpel wrap, rather than repaint it—much to the delight of his fanbase.
He then shipped this oddly colored car to Atlanta for Keen to upgrade it with his collection of Safari-grade modifications. Bash bars, skid plates, rally light pods, shaved side door mirrors, tucked bumpers, Braid Motorsport Fuchs wheels, Elephant Racing Safari suspension, a Quaife limited-slip differential, and BF Goodrich K02 tires turned this oddball ’87 into a bulletproof tank ready to brave the wilderness.
Continuing on its theme of oddball strength, Keen used commercial-grade LA city bus fabric for the seats. Matching the MOMO Prototipo wheel with the factory burgundy interior was a definite chore for the upholsterer, who needed “20 tries to make it work,” said Farah. It’s an odd combination of qualities which make this 911 a distinct, indelible image in the minds of car enthusiasts, as well as the perfect manifestation of Farah’s personality.
While it couldn’t be fairly described as utilitarian, Farah does use this as his daily driver. “I recently loaded three bushels of firewood behind the rear seats. I mean—it’s not meant for attacking the canyons or going to the racetrack, it’s meant for going to the shops, driving to my office, running errands, and then taking to the dirt for some fun. It really is the best parts of a Baja truck and the best parts of an air-cooled 911.”
Not many seem to blend such distinct qualities in one car, but Farah—with Keen’s guidance—certainly has. Hats off.