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3.2

Speedster generations

“I took a 911 Cabriolet off the line and drove it to my hot-rod shop,” admits Preuninger. That car became a mix-up of Gen1 GT3 and that Cabriolet.

The result of the GT boss’ work was first shown to a select group of customers as far back as 2014 alongside the 911 R concept, which the Speedster shares a lot of DNA with. This new Speedster is a GT department model, a car which, if you take Speedsters at their most elemental, it always should have been. 

Even so, Preuninger admits: “We didn’t focus on every last gram and we’re not concerned about lap times.” While that might be true, a kerbweight of 1,465kg is just 52kg more than a manual GT3.

The Speedster, like the R, is exclusively manual, with no PDK being offered, saving 17kg in weight and pleasing the driving purists among us. There are the same 911 R carbon-fibre front wings, the underbody at the rear being R-derived, while PCCB is standard too.

Those early customers who saw it liked the idea of a properly raw Speedster, doing without any roof, but Preuninger and his team denied them that, fitting a hood, in part to ensure that owners actually use them rather than park them away with delivery miles in collections. And the 1,948 Porsche will build? That’s the year when the first Speedster was built. 

Opening the low, neat roof is simple enough – a button unlatches the hood at the top of the lower windscreen and unclips the buttresses which then spring up from the large clamshell. The clamshell lock is released too, and the huge carbon-fibre panel – the largest Porsche has ever made, and weighing just 10kg – lifts out and back on struts, the hood simply pushed into its stowage area underneath.

Pop down the cover and the Speedster is open, as it should be, the slightly steeper rake and lowering of the screen, as well as that rear, fundamentally changing the look of the 911. It’s very reminiscent of original 356 Speedsters, losing the sometimes-uncomfortable, heavy-looking rear of later 911 Speedster models. There’s also a hint of Carrera GT in its proportions, particularly that rear three-quarter view.

The black stone guards on the flanks fore of the rear wheels were a late – and necessary – addition, admits Preuninger, breaking the visual length while harking back to the G-series models.

You don’t have to have them, and if you’re after an even more retro style then there’s the Heritage Pack plus a numbered, customised Porsche Design timepiece, as is the norm these days.

Forget those, though. Preuninger leans in, says to press Auto Blip and the exhaust button and go and drive it. I argue I’ll do the footwork myself and leave the Auto Blip off, Preuninger laughing and saying: “It’s better than you,” before adding, “and me…”

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Paul Stephens Le Mans Classic Clubsport driven

If you only go to one race in your life, make it Le Mans. La Sarthe’s battle of man, machine and time is something everyone should experience at least once. It’s a race that’s inextricably linked to Porsche, many of the company’s most famous victories taken over two complete loops of the clock’s face. Paul Stephens for one is a fan. He’s been going as long as he remembers, to the main event and the Classic, which in 2020 will be celebrating its tenth running. Stephens came back from his last visit with the seed of an idea… a limited-run 911 wearing the Le Mans Classic badge. Usefully, Stephens has the means to create just that.

No solo homage either, over months of negotiation and some creative input from both sides of the English Channel, Stephens built a celebration of Le Mans with the backing of the organisers of the Le Mans Classic race. The result is the Le Mans Classic Clubsport, which can be had in either M471 Lightweight or M472 Touring versions. Stephens admits the majority of interest has been in the Touring, the Lightweight perhaps a touch too extreme for most in being pared back in the extreme, doing without underseal, a passenger-side sunvisor, glovebox lid, lightweight carpets, Lexan rear windows, manual winders and the loss of some sound deadening.

Choose that and you’ll save 100kg over the Touring, though at 1,070kg it’s not exactly portly, its specification best described as covering the essentials. That’s part of its appeal and, indeed, true to the Classic badge it wears. Stephens is quick to point out that it’s not a backdate in the conventional sense. Yes, its looks inevitably and deliberately evoke vintage 911s, but the detailing adds some neat nods to modernity, not least the fit and finish inside.

Its base is a 3.2 Carrera, specifically a 1987 to 1989 car with a G50 five-speed transmission. The goal with the engine is to make it rev-hungry, requiring its driver to get the best from it, as with Porsche’s lower-capacity units. To achieve that Stephens added Mahle barrels and pistons with machined RS-spec camshafts, a lightened and balanced crank and con-rods. It’s dry sumped with a front-mounted oil cooler, while there’s electronic ignition and machined individual throttle bodies with a GT3 plenum. The exhaust is a full, equal-length system with individual heat exchangers.

The result of all of that is 300hp, that peak right up near the 7,900rpm rev limit, torque too peaking fairly high up the rev range. On firing the 3.4-litre, Stephen’s ambition for a racy engine is clear, it flaring with intent before settling into a purposeful idle. Even in the Touring there’s clearly not a great deal of sound deadening, while the luggage box in the rear seems to work as a resonance chamber, amplifying the evocative sounds from the 3.4-litre flat six.

All that sound isn’t enough to detract from the attention to detail obvious in the interior. Stephens’ team of builders has spent countless hours prototyping new interior trim parts, building new dash structures and designing their own door cards, centre console and kick plates to create an interior that’s exacting in its detail but subtle in its execution. The seats, fixed back with Houndstooth cloth, grip you perfectly; the instruments are painted green behind a dished Momo 360mm steering wheel; the 24-hour clock an amusing nod to the race that the Clubsport celebrates. The door kicks and the centre console are finished in black leather, the millimetre-perfect stitching in contrasting green beautiful, so too are the green seatbelts. The footplates around the pedals underline the attention to detail, Stephens determined with this Le Mans Classic Clubsport that he’d do things a bit differently, creating unique trim rather than replacing, recovering or restoring.

 

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Total 911’s real-world owner reports

Total 911’s ‘Living the Legend’ section is a popular feature of each issue, providing readers with real-world owner reports from our global band of contributors who not only live and breathe Porsche 911, they own them, too. Below is an excerpt from three of our dozen-strong lineup, whose models cover the entire breadth of the model’s 55-year history. You can catch their latest escapades in each issue of Total 911 – take out a subscription and get each issue delivered to your door.

 

Contributor: Tony McGuiness Porsche 911 model: 991.1  GT3 & 997.2 GT3 RS Dates acquired: December 2014 & February 2011

It is widely known that some 991.1 GT3s have had engine issues. In fact, in November of last year, GT3 owners including yours truly received a letter from Porsche stating that effective at once, the limited warranty on the GT3 internal engine components continues for ten years or up to 120,000 total miles, whichever occurs first.

This could become very important for me because last month on one of my usual drives through San Diego County, the GT3 lost power and began to run quite rough. I was able to drive it back home but clearly it wasn’t good.

I should also mention that occasionally on start-up the car could blow a huge plume of bluish-white smoke. It is worth noting that it isn’t unusual for a GT car to blow a small puff of smoke on start-up; it can be considered a charming characteristic of a GT3. However, my GT3, along with other owner’s GT3s, can occasionally blow a massive plume of smoke. When it does occur it can cover several cars parked behind in a huge cloud of smoke, which not only is embarrassing but obviously concerning.

Hoen Porsche in Carlsbad examined the GT3 and found the following: “Noted rough idle. Found fault misfire on cylinder six. Swap spark plug from cylinder six to cylinder four. Delete faults. Restarted engine, check engine light came on. Found misfire fault for cylinder four. Reinstalled spark plug from cylinder four, removed and replaced spark plug from cylinder six. Deleted faults. Turned on engine, noted check engine light is still on. Performed a second evaluation. Ran faults. Found fault for misfire on cylinder three active. Removed and swapped spark plugs from cylinder three to one and one to three. Deleted faults, turned on vehicle, found check engine light still on. Ran faults, found misfire on cylinder one active. Reinstalled original spark plug to cylinder one, removed and replaced the spark plug from cylinder three. Deleted faults. Started vehicle, no check engine light on. Performed a post evaluation and vehicle ran well.”

Porsche also found light oil in cylinder two which they consider to be within parameters according to the report. I can unequivocally state that the amount of smoke the GT3 can randomly discharge is in no way normal. Unless, of course, it was a battleship trying to hide under a smokescreen! Essentially, two spark plugs were replaced. This engine episode, of course along with the massive plumes of smoke, are very concerning to me, and not isolated occurrences. I have learned similar events have happened to other GT3 owners that led to Porsche replacing their engines. It would definitely seem that Porsche has extended the engine warranty for a reason. I will now video each engine start-up. This is unfortunate but something I will have to do. I truly hope that my GT3 ownership does not take a turn for the worse, and I am forced to report these issues each month. I will keep Total 911 readers posted!

 

Contributor: Joe Croser Porsche 911 model: 997.2 Turbo Date acquired: December 2015

My OPC Extended Warranty ran out in May and I didn’t renew. It wasn’t an easy decision – the OPC warranty is widely regarded as the best – but it was the right decision for me. After over two years and more than 8,000 miles I think I know my car well; I’ve seen it from all angles in various stages of undress and it’s never skipped a beat. Indeed, if ever there was a car I should worry less about it is (fingers crossed) probably this one, especially after filling the gearbox and engine with Millers Oils finest NT+ lubricants to reduce friction and improve longevity.

But it wasn’t risk which tipped the scales in favour of dropping the warranty, it was reward. You see, to truly enjoy my car I have made some essential mods. In late-summer 2017 I added the SharkWerks exhaust to transform the sound of the 3.8 flat six (issue 159). In the autumn I added the revolutionary DSC V1 PASM upgrade from TPC Racing to make my suspension truly adaptive (issue 160), and then as winter turned to spring I added Rennline radiator grills to protect and preserve my radiators and condensers from damage and debris (issue 165). Finally, as my old tyres were ready for a change, I had a new set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4Ss installed (issue 166). While the 4Ss in my size are without a doubt the best wet and dry tyre on the market, the tyres in my size remain without an N-Rating from Porsche, which means that my car will not pass the 111-point check with them wrapped around my alloys.

My mate Ben calls this the ‘opportunity cost’: to renew the warranty I would have to forego other opportunities to improve my car or incur additional costs to take off and refit these aftermarket improvements before and after an inspection. Even then I’d run the risk that a claim would be declined if the cause pointed to a third-party product as the issue or contributor. My car is better to drive with the PASM upgrade, the grippy Michelin tyres and the PSE-like exhaust sound. And with the reassurance of the Rennline grills I no longer fear for the integrity of the fragile rads and condensers hidden behind the front bumper. It’s a liberating thing and it’s the way it should be.

I have now owned this car for longer than any of its previous keepers, completing more miles in it than anyone else. It really is ‘my car’ for me to use as I see fit. I am not merely preserving it for its next owner; I am configuring it for my enjoyment, and I am now beyond being told by the Porsche Warranty company what I can and cannot do to it. I bought my car to drive. And drive it I shall, with a big grin from ear to ear.

 

Contributor: Lee Sibley Porsche 911 model: 996 Carrera 4S Date acquired: April 2017

Remember that KW V3 kit I brought home around three months ago? Well, after finally sorting a mysterious engine noise (which resulted in a need for a new auxiliary belt and water pump) and getting sidetracked with restoring my ‘Big Red’ brake callipers, at last I was ready for a switch-up in suspension.

For fitting I took my 996 along to Matt Samuel at ZRS Engineering. Matt is the brother of fellow columnist, James. My decision to go to Matt for the work came down to three key factors: as an owner of a 996.1 C4 himself he’s attuned to the workings of a 911; as 2013 British Drift champion he certainly knows all about car handling and control; and in running a small, independent business, I know exactly who’s going to be undertaking the work on my beloved Neunelfer.

I rocked up to Matt’s premises in Poole, Dorset early on the Saturday morning, and the man I would soon realise is nothing short of an engineering whizz soon got cracking. The car was promptly in the air, wheels off, front driveshafts popped off and factory struts whipped out. From here it was a case of fitting KW’s new front drop links to the KW front struts, plus top mounts. It’s a good idea to replace top mounts when fitting new struts, but luckily for me the rears were fine, while Matt had a spare set of very nearly new top front mounts from James’ 997.1 Turbo (cheers mate!), which is an identical part. Incidentally, Matt also tells me a 997 Turbo top mount is cheaper from Porsche than a 996 C4S, despite their striking similarity…

With top mounts and drop links affixed the KW coilovers were installed. Matt had the coilovers set at the height KW delivered them, but after a test drive found the car to be too low, promptly raising the 996 by 10mm at the front and 20mm at the back to give a slightly ‘raked’ stance. “The springs will need a bit of time to settle, so when you’ve burned through a tank of fuel, come back to me for a final tweak,” he said. It was at this point Matt earned my admiration: whereas others would have wanted to get the job done, the car out the door and the money in the bank, Matt’s diligence to getting the task at hand absolutely right really struck a chord with me. We agreed to leave the bump and rebound on KW’s ‘basic’ settings – they are 16-way adjustable – and have a play with the car as the miles roll along.

So how does it handle? Well I’m just about to complete that tank of fuel Matt has advised I burn through, so I’m due to revisit for a final tweak before a good geo. For road use the front is great, it feels supple enough to be palatable on our bumpy British B-roads while ensuring the front wheels stick stubbornly to the asphalt. The back, though, will need looking at, as it’s too harsh at slow speeds – the sensation is akin to M030, which I’ve always found too crashy on the road. I’ve noticed the car has also dropped slightly in ride height, so it’ll need raising, I’m estimating by around 10mm. I’ll report more on the finished article next issue, but for now I’m mega happy to have these KW V3s on the C4S and have been left so impressed by Matt’s excellent work.

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964 vs 3.2 Carrera: evolving the 911

By 1984, as the latest 3.2 was appearing in the showrooms, the 911 was already a phenomenon: it had far exceeded the impressive 15-year life of the 356 and, thanks to the passion and insight of then-CEO Peter Schutz, showed no signs of flagging. No other mass-production car conceived in the 1960s survived into a third decade. In 1982 Ford had built the last Cortina, but that car had been rebodied no fewer than four times; only the primitive Land Rover could offer the visual continuity of the 911.

The Porsche remained both profitable and near the top of the performance league. In 1984 231bhp was respectable, and on the quieter roads of those times a driver could deploy such horsepower regularly in a way quite impossible for today’s 500bhp 911s. Indeed, to beat a 3.2 you needed an Italian exotic of the type that required a mechanic in the boot, and even then it would never sustain day-in day-out 120mph use on the Autobahn.

But if the 911 was still a selling proposition, the strength of the dollar during the early 1980s making Porsche an increasingly attractive proposition to Americans, this masked the fact that it was dated. It had no power steering, a ride quality not worthy of its price bracket, no auto transmission option and byzantine heating and ventilation systems. Australian journalist Peter Robinson said in 1978: “The 911 belongs to another era. It’s showing its age and not just around the edge, so let’s put it out to pasture with the other thoroughbreds before it breaks down and has to be destroyed in front of its adoring public.”

Such antipodean directness was too much for Porsche, and Robinson later revealed that it was 11 years before Porsche would let him near another press car. Nevertheless, there were rumblings within Porsche too. Styling director Tony Lapine was a well-known 911 dissident, but Peter Falk was also critical. A man steeped in 911 development, and who before retirement produced the famous Lastenheft which sought to redefine the fundamental characteristics a new 911 should have, Falk represented the very essence of 911 integrity and tradition. After 20 years he wanted to see improvements, such as dispensing with the archaic torsion bars.

Falk’s voice did not go unheard. In April 1984 the board authorised development of the next 911, Typ 964. This would be the 911’s first step to making up lost ground. In fact, when it was revealed in 1988, the 964 looked remarkably like its predecessor. The board had stipulated that nothing was to be changed above the level of the axles. This had vastly restricted the designers, but Dick Soderberg’s skilful melding of the impact bumpers into the bodywork was widely praised, and the smooth-surfaced, technical-looking ‘Design 90’ 16-inch wheels were much admired. All of a sudden the Fuchs appeared old-fashioned…

 

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VIDEO: “Car Life: Less is More – Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2″

porsche-3.2-less-is-more

There’s a good YouTube channel that we just discovered called Singular Entity, so why not kick back and enjoy our debut of their work with their latest video titled, “Car Life: Less is More – Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2″. Not to tear the car apart at all because it is overall very tasteful and we really are impressed by it, but nonetheless … Continue reading VIDEO: “Car Life: Less is More – Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2″

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