Porsche Vs. Singer: A Legal Showdown That Shifts Gears For Restomods? - story Go to full screen story Fullscreen

Porsche Vs. Singer: A Legal Showdown That Shifts Gears For Restomods?

Unpacking the Lawsuit and its potential impact on the Porsche outlaw scene

by Amrit Balraj on July 7, 2024, 16:00

In a legal battle with potentially industry-wide ramifications, Porsche initiated legal proceedings against Singer Vehicle Design in February 2024. The German automaker sued the Californian restoration firm, accusing Singer of trademark infringement on their DLS and DLS Turbo models. Porsche took issue with Singer’s use of Porsche branding and design elements, even though Singer has become renowned for its high-end, meticulously crafted resto-mods of classic Porsches. Early on, Porsche saw Singer’s potential impact. In 2012, a mere three years after Singer’s founding, Porsche negotiated a binding agreement with the Californian firm. This contract outlined the boundaries of Singer’s modifications to ensure they wouldn’t infringe on Porsche’s trademarks, and all the parts used in Singer models had to be sourced from Porsche.

  • Singer was started by Rob Dickinson in 2009, their first project was simply called the Singer 911.
  • Porsche initiated legal action against Singer in February 2024, which has subsequently been settled out of court since.
  • Porsche had an agreement with Singer since 2012, which laid some guidelines for Singer’s creations
  • Singer’s high-end DLS and DLS Turbo models can cost upwards of 2 million dollars.
  • The Singer All Terrain Competition Study is a highly capable homage to the 911 SC/RS and the Paris-Dakar Porsche 959s.

What Is The Nature Of Porsche’s Dispute?

Porsche Vs. Singer: A Legal Showdown That Shifts Gears For Restomods? Exterior storyboard - image 94401

The German brand argues that Singer’s models are completely rebuilt cars from the ground up and hence, cannot use Porsche branding or logos to profit from. According to Porsche The DLS and DLS Turbos are unique cars with a distinct body style and engines sourced from Williams Formula One, which means that they cannot be identified as Porsches. Singer has carved out its niche.

They’ve moved beyond simply calling their creations "911s." Instead, each car is meticulously crafted and presented as a "Porsche 911 reimagined by Singer," Porsche demanded that Singer remove all Porsche branding from the DLS and DLS Turbo. In the past, Porsche has made a similar request when Singer was promoting their off-road 911 model which was called the Singer All-Terrain Competition Study (ACS), where Singer complied.

Porsche Vs. Singer: A Legal Showdown That Shifts Gears For Restomods? storyboard - image 183784

Singer defied Porsche’s requests to remove Porsche branding from their high-priced DLS and DLS Turbo models. These cars, featuring the iconic Porsche badge, appeared at prestigious events like the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

This defiance might have triggered Porsche to file a lawsuit in February 2024, seeking compensation and halting production of both models. Porsche argued these weren’t one-off customizations but mass-produced vehicles (with 75 pre-sold DLS units). However, the lawsuit was surprisingly dismissed just two months later. It seems like the Porsche brand went on the offensive to protect its intellectual property (IP) from future infractions.

What Does This Mean For Other Porsche Restomodders/Aftermarket Brands?

Porsche Vs. Singer: A Legal Showdown That Shifts Gears For Restomods? storyboard - image 185101

What does this mean for the myriad of Porsche-centric resto modding companies, like RWB or Emory who have been crafting Porsche-based cars for a long time now? Going forward these brands might have to tiptoe around stricter guidelines when creating their high-end creations, but hopefully, it will not stifle their creativity. These brands and their beautiful creations have created a new generation of Porsche enthusiasts, who have gained an appreciation for the brand.

If Porsche chooses to tangle with more of these companies in the future, they might risk alienating a faction of their fans. While stricter guidelines are a possibility, open communication between Porsche and these established firms could lead to a mutually beneficial outcome.

Porsche could potentially offer licensing agreements or establish clear parameters for modifications, ensuring quality and brand protection while allowing these companies to continue their creative expression. Ultimately, a collaborative approach could foster a vibrant resto-modding scene that celebrates Porsche’s heritage while attracting a new demographic of fans to the German marque.

There Have Been Several IP Court Battles In The Past

While the details of the legal case and subsequent squashing are sealed, the case in itself is not unprecedented in the auto world:

Amrit Balraj

Amrit Balraj

Features Writer Read full bio