Form follows Fun: the SyberiaRS

The added value of a design? Sometimes it can simply be having fun with your own vehicle and its off-road capabilities. Kai Burkhard proves this in the interview about his "SyberiaRS". And if you think about it: without "Fun" there is also no "Function". On top, we also get an explanation how it came to his off-road 911 and its special ramp design renderings.
Text Marko Knab
Photo Retrodrome / Carrara Design

Hello Kai, did you like playing in the dirt as a child?
Why as a child? I still love playing in the dirt. And yes, my son Nando is usually there too. No matter if we walk the dogs in the forest or drive the car on the way there…we can't miss a pothole!

So the idea for your latest project, the "SyberiaRS", wasn't far fetched?
That's a long story! In autumn 2018 I wanted to expand my fleet with a real Army Humvee. Just something honest for said waterholes. Just like the DMAX Steel Buddies monster. Test drive, "configuration", conversation with Michael Manousakis - it all happened very quickly. Then a short flashback: Truck registration? Garage? Son at a Waldorf school? Woodland paint job? And only a top speed of 80 kilometers per hour? Okay, there must be another way, I thought. And so the SyberiaRS was born.

How long were you working on the G-model?
In our search for a suitable base, we came across an 86 G-model from Japan - in 1A condition, a dream. Once we had it, we started right away. I knew exactly what I wanted and found two perfect team players for my project in my friends Daniel Lemm and Jürgen Bach from BALE Motorsport. We also tried a lot and sometimes made a wrong decision on the way. But the roll-out was after 14 months of construction time.

"But the SyberiaRS gives people so much pleasure. It immediately brings a smile to your face and to the people who see it. Simply wonderful!"

Kai Burkhard

The finished car looks as if you wanted to start an expedition to Siberia. When will you start?
My personal Siberia starts right in front of the front door! The Syberia RS is incredible fun everywhere. Theoretically I could wrap the winch around a parking ticket machine or change the driving direction over the grass… anything goes! (laughs). Of course I don't do that. But the SyberiaRS gives people so much pleasure. It immediately brings a smile to your face and to the people who see it. Simply wonderful! Especially my son when I drive him to school in the morning. At least as exciting as a "small" rally to Siberia!

So why exactly does the converted 911 bear the name of the region in Russia?
I'm a fan of the VELTINS beer brand both privately and professionally - and it was one of the top sponsors of the Porsche Transsyberia Project with the Cayenne. A great Rallye Raid event - with incredibly great cars. Doc Brandenburg also went on a safari for a few stages back then. But for me it was just too early in my career to start such an adventure. Twelve years later, it could start any time now. And on the roof there'd easily be room for a case of non-alcoholic beer!

Why did you use the iconic design of the Porsche 911 for your project and not another vehicle?
Are there any other vehicles besides 911s? Honestly - I never thought about converting another car. On top, Porsche and mud holes have a great tradition - see 911 SC Safari, 953 and 959. From my point of view it was just time for a little facelift.

Then the 911 has a special meaning for you? Is it even something like an way of life?
Way of life is perhaps too big a word for me. I can live without cars. But just the feeling of seeing, hearing or driving a 911 is grand. My first "real" car was a 911, my current car is a 911, my next one will be a 911, and of course the SyberiaRS is a 911. Let's put it this way - a 911 is one of the good feelings in my life.

And how did that happen with the special ramp designs we see here?
The answer is super simple: I am a die hard ramp fan, already long before the Syberia RS. I have every issue at home! Moreover, the features in "Summer Vibes" and the CAP blog made me super proud back then. So it was only logical for me to just say "thank you ramp" with the cool designs!

"I am a die hard ramp fan, already long before the Syberia RS. I have every issue at home!"

Kai Burkhard

Why are montrous tyres on 16-inch-rims in Fuchs-style and and the off-road conversion not a sacrilege to the pure form of a 911?
What could be cooler than tinkering with a legend? Because no matter what you do, it leads to reactions and that's fun. Converting a VW Jetta is also fun - but then I would certainly not be having an interview with you right now! The Porsche 911 is an untouchable legend - no matter how big my tyres are.

How did you feel about the feedback from the community?
It was and is unbelievable. On the Instagram profile (@syberia_rs) I simply posted some mobile phone pictures during the construction phase. More like a private documentary for my buddies. But after a short time the first comments came from the community. Today even Porsche brand ambassadors like Patrick Dempsey or Leh Keen regularly comment on the posts.

Which model do you drive when you are not driving the "Syberia RS"?
I have had a lot of luck in life and therefore I have a little bit of choice. But the way to work in my 991 Turbo S MK2 is almost like a holiday for me - at least until the gate of the underground car park opens! (laughs)

So the Porsche brand has always fascinated you?
Yes, of course - it started with the Matchbox car and will surely end with the Matchbox car at a very old age.

What do you think is special about cars from Zuffenhausen and their design?
The question is too intimate. If I answered it honestly, there would be trouble with my wife! (laughs)

And the most important question at the end: Where will the first ride with the "Syberia RS" go?
As a matter of fact, it already happened. Honestly, it was the trip to the bakery…because what better way to start a Sunday breakfast than with boxer sound and air cooling, right?

ramp shop

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