The fruit of “a desire to build the perfect air-cooled Porsche 911,” Theon Design combines the aesthetics and “analogue driver involvement” of a classic 911, with the comfort, driveability and performance of a modern sports car. And the formula seems to be a hit. To keep up with demand, the UK based 911 bespoke-build and restorations specialist had to double its workforce and increase the square-footage of its premises by 200% in the past year. Despite these increases, the build slots for this year are all taken.
Theon Design was founded in 2016 by Adam Hawley, a car designer, and Lucinda Argy, a business and marketing specialist. Hawley spent 20 years as a designer working for leading automotive brands, including BMW, Jaguar, Lotus and Lexus. He has also worked with Airbus, and designed for a powerboat manufacturer.
A lifelong Porsche fan, Theon Design evolved from Hawley’s desire to modify his own classic 911 into his definition of “the perfect Porsche 911.” Utilising his design, material and prototyping skills, Hawley created a car that stayed true to its classic looks and driver involvement, but had the comforts and drivability of a modern sports car. The high praise that Hawley’s 911 prototype received from critics and 911 enthusiasts led him to co-found Theon Design.
“Our goal is to enhance the Porsche 911 formula, applying an OEM-like approach, using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and manufacture to deliver the highest quality and finish – all while honouring Stuttgart’s rich heritage and engineering ethos,” explains Hawley.
For each 911 (generally 964) based commission, every component is first 3D-scanned and modelled. This enables the experts at Theon to assemble each car to the tightest possible tolerances. A wide range of engines are also available to Theon’s clients – 285bhp 3.6-litre, 370bhp 3.8-litre and 400bhp – either naturally-aspirated or enhanced with forced induction via turbocharging or supercharging.
Theon Design’s latest commission, known internally as BEL001, is for a Belgian customer. It is the first to feature active damping – developed in conjunction with road and race suspension experts TracTive – and the first to feature a 450bhp 3.6-litre supercharged air-cooled flat six-cylinder engine.
Theon Design’s impressive growth in the recent past is driven by surging international demand. Hawley comments: “We are delighted to have such a passionate client base, with whom we closely collaborate on each bespoke commission. We have been equally thrilled by the surge in demand for our cars over the past 18 months; Theon Design has an expanding order bank of Porsche enthusiasts from across the globe, with cars in build for customers in Belgium, Chile, North America and Italy, on top of multiple cars for the UK.
“These customers will join our growing group of existing clients in Europe, North & South America, and Asia – the ‘Theon owners club’ if you will – a truly international community. It means a great deal to have such interest in what we do as a company, and that our passion-driven creations, underpinned by the team’s obsessive attention to detail, resonate with enthusiasts around the world.”
To meet growing demand, Theon has been significantly expanded with an all-new state state-of-the-art manufacturing and design facility in Deddington, Oxfordshire – the heart of the UK’s famed ‘Motorsport Valley’. Theon’s location means it is ideally placed to further develop its partnerships with high-end automotive suppliers, as well as leverage the region’s unparalleled motorsport and high-performance road car expertise.
The new facility, which increases Theon’s footprint by 200%, is constructed on a multi-acre site. It houses a design studio, a production hall where the final assembly of multiple commissions can be carried out in parallel, and an engine build shop. The previous HQ has been repurposed to focus solely on restoration and hand forming of body panels. The plot on which the facility sits is surrounded by picturesque fields, and has space for events and company open days, as well as ample capacity for any future expansion.
Theon’s new HQ also houses a significantly expanded workforce. The headcount has increased by 100% year-on-year, ensuring that more cars can be built in-house simultaneously. Recent additions to the team have been lured from the likes of Cosworth and Bugatti, in addition to Porsche specialists.
Explaining Theon’s exacting approach to recruitment, Hawley says: “When growing the company, we’ve been utterly focused on ensuring that additions to the team are hugely capable, detail-obsessed automotive experts – those not only with a passion for perfection, but also for Porsches, who can help drive Theon Design to new heights.
“Whatever the role – designer, engineer, fabricator, technician – all new hires share the focus of Theon as a company, our unique ‘Purity of Purpose’; as a team, we remain united around a singular objective: creating the ultimate-air cooled 911.
Hawley concludes: “Our newly bolstered team, along with our all-new, state-of-the-art facility, will enable us to take Theon Design to a whole new level, harnessing and delivering upon the unprecedented demand we’ve experienced for our bespoke commissions. We’re also future-proofed as a business, primed to develop and grow the further in the years to come, extending the Theon Design experience to more passionate Porsche enthusiasts than ever before.”