Apex Competition's 996 Carrera 2 Project Car

So what's this all about? It's about the impressive Porsche GT3 Cup cars that we can't drive everyday... so why not take an affordable 996 C2 and modify it to arrive at a semi-comfortable yet formidable weekend club sport toy... One that can still be driven to and from the circuit and even everyday!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Track Day #2 (w/ video)

Monday, Project 996 was back on track as ACS owner Bill Sulouff was instructing at the BeaverRun Motorsport complex. The corner weighting, pressure adjustments and the ride height adjustments which were carried out last week all made a positive improvement on the 996's handling. The cars seems to be handling about right now for a basically stock 996.

After a few sessions it became clear that in order to enhance the track handling of this car any further that some additional "balance" adjustments would be required. The car was being pushed hard enough now that we could tell it still had too much understeer coming out of the corners. Even when "tossed" a bit and accelerating hard there was some "push". Therefore it looks like some GT3 swaybars (or similar) are in the car's near future.

The Hawk HP Plus pads that we intalled were a definite improvement. The fade is mostly gone. However we still seem to getting some fade at the end of the longer straight as we brake hard for the hairpin. It's possible that this is related to something else so we'll be going through the front brake system before the next event.

Here is a video of a couple laps. Fabspeed muffler bypass "Track Pipes" were installed just for this one day. Unfortunately they are far too loud for everyday use :)


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Track Prep 101

Monday is another track day at BeaveRun where Bill will be instructing so we spent a little time on the 996 this weekend attending to some things that were still not optimal. First off the brake pads that had been on the car for the first track day proved to be insufficient, fading after only about 4 hard laps. So we will be testing various compounds to see what works as advertised! First up is a set of Hawk HP Plus pads which are Hawk's Autocross and "Track Day" pads. Designed to be driven to and from the track and still perform well in normal street driving, these pads sound like they will be what we're looking for if they perform.

Next on the agenda was getting the ride height and corner weights squared away. Given that this is the '996 to GT3 Project' we started out by setting the ride heights to roughly what is delivered on a Porsche GT3. 25.5" from the highest point of the wheel arches to the ground (tire contact patch).

After this was done we pulled the 996 onto our setup scales to check the corner weights. Way off! After a few hours of tweaking the H&R coil overs we stopped at what is a much better, but still a compromised setup. This is afterall a street car and not a race car. So getting 'perfect' corner weights may not be possible.

Tire pressures were also adjusted from the factory settings of 36F/44R to 32F/40R. The common wisdom is that this is a better setup reducing some understeer, improving grip and at the same time giving a better ride around town.

We'll see how it does and report back on Monday. To the track!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

996 Project Dyno Session #1

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

B&M Short Shifter Installed

You think the shifting of your 996 is already as good as sports cars get? Think again! We just installed a B&M shifter into ACS Project 996 and wow, what a difference. The shifting has gone from excellent to 'PERFECT'.

The shifter is supplied with everything needed to install plus the included B&M instruction manual which is excellent. Plenty of detailed photos and it covers every step of the process very well. The shifter takes about 1 hour to install with basic hand tools.

Once on and adjusted, the driving feel is much improved. 1-2, 3-4 and 5-6 shifts are now made with a very quick and decisive "snik, snik" that you'd expect from a racing shifter. The gate width between 2-3, 4-5 shifts is reduced but the "feel" for these gears is actually improved. The shifting effort is not noticibly increased and it remains easy to throw into the gears. The B&M shifter reduces much of the 'play' giving it a nice firm feel.

One word of advice. While it is outlined in the instructions, it is very important that you mark the location of the cable shafts prior to disassembly. Failure to do so can make adjustment once assembled much more time consuming. We found that even a 1 or 2mm change in adjustment at the cable attachment points created a difference you could really feel in where and how far the shifter engaged.

Monday, June 16, 2008

BMC Panel Filter

We had a BMC panel filter laying around unused so we popped it in this weekend. This filter has a very nice soft silicone type seal all around the edge. This filter appears to be very similar to the excellent "Green" Brand filters we recommend. Great fit, quality materials, recommended.

Later we will be installing the EVOMS cold air intake. The EVOMS intake is a true ducted cold air intake with a low restriction cone filter feeding a radiused intake trumpet attached to the throttle body hose. The Grand-Am Cup teams use the EVOMS intake. We'll be dyno'ing it later.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Wheels

Never been a big fan of the "Twist" wheels found on the early 996 cars like ours. They are relatively heavy and also narrower than some of the other wheel options.

We'd love to put a set of BBS LM wheels on the car but at $1000 each that's not going to happen soon. We do sell a BBS LM "replica" wheel for 1/4 the price. However what we've decided to go with are the 'Carerra 2' wheels that were delivered on the '02 and up 996 cars. We sell a refurbished "new" version of this wheel that is lighter and wider than the "Twist" and since the price is right they were selected.

The "Twists" may be powder coated black to use as track wheels even though they are narrow and heavier. No sense in buying a perfectly good set of wheels for track abuse when we're not really racing. Those last 10ths of a second are not the objective.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

First track day

Somewhere I read "All Porsches are Race Cars" Well I dont know about the new Cayenne but for sure the Porsche 911 has won more circuit races than any other model of car I can think of. How would our's fair on it's maiden voyage to BeaverRun?

Since I was instructing I did not bring my cameras for documentation purposes but we'll be at the track again soon and will be taking stills and video for this blog.
Initial impressions were that for an old 3.4L normally aspirated engine this car still has a lot of grunt. At around 4000 RPM the variable cam timing kicks in and it really starts to pull. The motor goes strong to redline with no indication that it was running out of breath. So the engine passes the "new car test" ... no leaks, rattles or tapping from the 8 year old flat 6.
"Houston we have a problem." Not so much the brake system but the pads. Fade started around the 5 lap mark and then got progressively worse until I realized exactly what was happening. The pads on the car had not been changed and evidently they were not a "sport" compound at all. In subsequent sessions I began to "breathe" the brakes by lifting once going into the heavier braking zones. This helped quite a bit and the pads held up for the rest of the day. A good set of Hawks or Carbotechs are definately on the "To Do" list. On a positive note, I have driven many German cars with Bosch ABS. I have never liked any of them, until now. Usually the ABS activates and does not continue to slow the car and does not return braking control to the driver for far too long. This Porsche on the other hand has ABS I can live with. Once activated it would immediately shut off if I released any brake pressure at all, and when I simply stomped on the peddle it did a great job of threshold braking itself, with tires chirping for mercy as the system instantaneously computed the limits of adhesion. Well done Porsche!
In a word, impressive. This was afterall not H&R's true track suspension and certainly no racing suspension, however the H&R suspension was more than capable of handling most of what I threw at it. Getting to know this new car meant I was no where near the limit and was basically just trying to understand the dynamics and get a good feel for the car's balance. All in all the supension was quite capable of contolling the car in both the slower chicane, the tight hairpin and showed no signs of wandering or float at speeds over 100mph. There was a bit more understeer than I like but that is to be expected for the stock sway bars and the narrow front tires we had on. (225)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

H&R Suspension

Since the ACS 'Club Sport' 996 was scheduled to hit the track just days after taking delivery we pretty much had to "run what you brung". Fortunately we were able to "bring" the H&R Adjustable Coil Over suspension that the previous owner had so kindly installed for us! But we wouldn't track a car without giving it a good going over so up on the lift it went.

What we discovered was an H&R suspension with springs rates somewhere between mild and wild. A quick run over the setup scales in our shop showed reasonable corner weights and nothing that would prevent us from getting used to the new car's manners on track.

As a dealer for H&R we (ACS) had no problem justifying the use of this H&R suspension for the first track outing. In fact we decided it would be a good idea to evaluate this "street/track" suspension and compare it to the stock 996s we've driven and then again with the more agressive Club Sport or competition suspensions we've got planned for the car down the road.

The previous owner had lowered the car a bit more than we'd like to see on a dual purpose car. But again, for this first outing we were in expiremental mode... So the setup stayed as it was.

Monday, June 2, 2008

First Mod - A Little Sparkle

Before the ACS 996 even got to our shops it was being modified. As soon as we found the car and made a deposit, the fingers were flying on the keyboard searching for bits to add to the car so that we could begin getting it ready four it's first track day. Bill was planning to instruct at BeaveRun just 3 days after the car was schuleded to arrive.... what could we do on such short notice without having the car here to physically inspect? Not much. However one of the changes we knew was going to be made was the cenversion from the early '99 style headlights and yellow signals & corner lights to the later style clear or "white" lights. This change would really update the perceived "age" of the car and also compliment the white on black "theme".

So we ordered up a set of the very affordable Bosch corner lights and started searching for '00-'01 style headlights. Much to our dismay there were not any used headlights available out there this week and new units just were not in the current budget. So it was decided the headlights will have to wait for a later date.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Criteria for purchase

We searched for a few months lookng for a used 996 C2 Porsche that would fit a couple of simple criteria.
  • Affordable - Car needed to be under $25,000

Since this car was going to primarily be a show case for ACS products and was also going to be our street/track car there was no sense in buying a garage queen that never saw brake dust or worn out tires!

  • White C2 Coupe with Black Interior

Black interiors in these early Carerras are surprisingly hard to find. The German trend at the time was to color code the dash, trim carpets and seats... no thanks, just basic black for us!

While Black is most stunning on these cars, the fact that this was going to be an older car with heavy use in the plans meant that a high maintenance finish like black was out... that left 'German Racing Silver' or a 'Factory Race White'. Since so many early 996 are silver and since we're a sucker for the factory race look, Glacier White was chosen.

  • Southern or South Western Car
Since this car would be worked on extensively and would be a showcase of our products we wanted the running gear and underside to be as clean as possible. Rusty bolts, oxidized suspension & exhaust parts just wouldn't cut it.

After watching EBay, Autotrader and a few Porsche forums our car appeared... in Arizona. Mileage under 70K, White on Black, and a web savvy car dealer with a reputation for selling cars exactly as described. A few weeks later just outside of Pittsbugh we met a car transporter on his was to Philly with our 996 sitting on the back of his truck. Soon our new project was heading home... Project C2-GT3 was born!

Apex Competition's 996 Shop Car Project

So what's this all about? It's about the impressive Porsche GT3 Cup cars that we can't afford to drive everyday.... so why not take an affordable 996 C2 and modify it (within reason) to arrive at a comfortable yet formidable weekend club sport type toy... One that can still be driven to and from the circuit and even to work on nice days.