Marc Philipp Gemballa reveals his first supercar – the MARSIEN (w/VIDEO)


In May this year, Marc Philipp Gemballa – the son of the man who founded the Gemballa tuning company 30 years ago – announced that he was developing a new car of his own, codenamed ‘Project Sandbox’. It had nothing to do with the Gemballa company and is a venture by his own company.

Based on the all-new Porsche 992 Turbo S, the sportscar is off-road capable and inspired by the legendary Porsche 959 rally era. Only 40 units will be produced and most of them already have customers waiting. The price for conversion starts at 495,000 euros (about RM2.455 million) ex-factory plus the cost of a 992 Turbo S.

‘Project Sandbox’ now has a name – MARSIEN – which is derived from the French word ‘Martian’ or ‘from Mars’. The choice of this name came about during the intense test phase in the Al Faya desert in the United Arab Emirates. The stunning red desert sand with sharp fossil rocks and mountain backdrops gave the 27-year old Gemballa and his team the feeling as if they were in an entirely different universe.

“Since it looked and felt like we were on Mars paired with the futuristic design and the vehicle’s off-road capabilities, we couldn’t think of a more fitting name for our first project,” he explained, and so the name was born.

A more unique supercar
Although he grew up in an environment where building the fastest and most powerful production car on the planet and setting the next world record on the Nurburgring was key, Gemballa believes the horsepower game is over. He observes that tuning is done by the carmakers themselves and that the market is constantly being flooded with an influx of new supercars.

The young entrepreneur realised, when aiming to build a successful company for the future, he could not offer just ‘another supercar’, and he needed to come up with something very special for his clients.

The legendary Porsche 959 from the original Paris-Dakar era.

Entirely new concept
Drawing inspiration from the legendary Paris-Dakar rally era and more than two years of intense design and engineering development, Gemballa has come up with an ultra-modern, timeless looking supercar. It is a hybrid between a modern-day supercar with all its comfort and day-to-day practicality combined with off-road capabilities using the latest technologies.

The all-new Porsche 992 Turbo S provided the perfect base to realise the young entrepreneur’s vision. With that model as the starting point, the MARSIEN features a full carbonfibre bodyshell. All exterior components are produced in pure carbonfibre, exclusively designed for performance, light weight and cooling. Each body panel is manufactured by a leading German carbonfibre specialist which also supplies leading supercar manufacturers as well as several leading Formula 1 teams.

The exterior paint is applied by a state-of-the-art and certified paint shop which will meet the most ‘daring’ customer colour requests. For the launch vehicle, there is an elaborate triple layer pearl white with special metallic flakes, along with additional protection through a ceramic coating. Customers also have the request for a fully exposed carbonfibre body.

Besides the full carbonfibre body, the exterior of the bodywork has functional design upgrades such as a completely bespoke taillight. Adopting the latest LED technology, the rear light has been developed together with light specialist GERG Lighthouse, enabling a completely holistic design appearance for the MARSIEN.

The shape has been the subject of intensive Computational Fluid Dynamics analysis in order to achieve the best possible aerodynamic efficiency. This area was the responsibility of engineering partner KLK, which has gained expertise in working with LMP1, Formula E, and Formula One racing teams for over 20 years.

Power by RUF
To offer a top-notch powertrain, Gemballa has teamed up with legendary Porsche engine specialist RUF Automobile for the engine development of the MARSIEN. Founded in 1981, RUF Automobile is known for its Porsche engine expertise, having already worked with Marc’s father to produce powerful powertrains for various cars in the 1980s. The engine upgrade ‘POWERED BY RUF’ enables the 6-cylinder boxer engine to deliver over 750 ps  and 930 Nm.

For those who need more power, there is second stage power upgrade by RUF Automobile taking the engine up to 830 ps with enhanced VTG turbochargers and a revised ECU mapping and transmission setting.

The Porsche PDK transmission is also used, and it has been revised and adapted to the new conditions so that the enormous power reserves arrive at all 4 wheels without loss. Extended driveshafts have been developed with reinforced Porsche Cayenne joints to reliably enable the enormous spring deflection and the engine’s high torque.

Akrapovic, the well known exhaust system manufacturer, has also developed an entirely new titanium system exclusively for the MARSIEN. This lightweight system focusses on a bespoke sound experience while also helping to enhance power output.

Cutting-edge chassis technology
The suspension and chassis have been developed by KW Automotive to be a bespoke system. Being also intended for off-road motoring, extensive changes to the chassis of the base vehicle have been required. These include a completely new double wishbone front suspension set-up equipped with KW Automotive’s solid piston damper technology. This has an intelligent active damper control as well as an adjustable ride height system that can create overall ground clearance of up to 250 mm at the touch of a button.

Drivers looking for the ultimate off-road experience and don’t mind limited road usability can fit an optional off-road package. This is equipped with Reiger Suspension rally specification off-road dampers further enhancing the suspension travel and increasing the ground clearance to a fixed off-road ride height.

The MARSIEN is currently undergoing a full road homologation process, which includes crash tests,  in order for it to be legally used on roads in target markets. The markets that Gemballa is looking at are in Europe, the Middle East, the USA, as well as other major global markets later on.

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