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Project Boxster Clubsport: Part 23 – A New Direction

All Digital Renderings: Kevin McCauley

 

The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry. We’ve had « Project Boxster Clubsport » for a few years, and it’s been dormant for the last two trips around the sun. I’ve done some work on the car, and it’s been driven a quick trip here and there, but it has mostly been laying in wait. It looked like I would have the time to give it a rehash last fall, but that fell apart. My life got infinitely busier, running this site began to take up more of my time as we grew, and other project cars took precedence. My priorities shifted, and now I’m going all in on the Boxster that has been sitting for far too long. If you’re going to do something, don’t do it half-assed. Climb aboard as we go whole hog on this crazy machine. It’s time that this project was dragged out of the shadows and brought back into the light. It’s going to be made better than ever, so lets get started!

In case you haven’t seen where the project has been in the past, here are links to every installment.
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – GT3-Style Center Console Delete
Part 3 – LED license plate lights
Part 4 – Headlight Polishing
Part 5 – Tail Light Tinting
Part 6 – Emblem Delete and Paint Correction
Part 7 – Lightweight Battery
Part 8 – Short Shift Kit Installation
Part 9 – Lightweight Audio
Part 10 – Big Brakes, Spacers, and Wheel Studs
Part 11 – Wheels and Michelins
Part 12 – Parking Lot Damage
Part 13 – Flares and Paint
Part 14 – Interior Door Handle Update
Part 15 – Non-Smoker Kit
Part 16 – Stiffer Sway Bars
Part 17 – Momo Steering Wheel
Part 18 – H&R Sport Spring Installation
Part 19 – Adjustable Rear Toe Control Arms
Part 20 – Rear Suspension Braces
Part 21 – How Does It Drive?
Part 22 – Aborted Revival

Before we get started we would need to thank Michelin. As many of you know, Michelin is a long-time sponsor of FLATSIXES.com. Recently, they have generously offered to sponsor Project Boxster Clubsport as part of their involvement with our site. Please consider checking out what Michelin has to offer by clicking their banners on this page. Without Michelin’s support, and others like them, this site really wouldn’t be possible.

When taking on a project, I don’t like to do things in half measures. Let’s go all out, turn some heads, and make an impression. Why not take this Boxster Clubsport thing to its ultimate expression? I don’t think this is a project that will ever be *done* because as time and money permits, it will always be in our best interest to make this faster and cooler. But we have laid out some goals, and worked with one of the best automotive artists in the game to bring those goals out of the ether and into reality. Right now the car is just a rendering, but the image can be a powerful motivator. By turning this into something I can stare at longingly, it has become a personal goal to work toward rather than some abstract thing in my head. So, what are we going to be doing here?

This project idea has been floating around in my head for at least 5 years now, and it’s time to act. The inspiration behind this build is the Porsche street/race cars of the 1950s and 60s. Think back to something like a 356 Speedster or 550 Spyder. It was technically street legal, allowing a racer to drive the car to the race track, take the windshield off, tape off the headlights, put some numbers on the side, and race around all day before driving home again that evening. My goal is to make this a modern take on that vintage sports racer ideology. With Porsche’s work toward hybrid and EV technology, why not follow in their footsteps? Therefore the mission of this project is to be able to drive to the track on EV power, race around all day, and then drive home on EV power.

Step 1 – Hybrid power

Yep, you read that right, we’re following Porsche’s current trajectory and building a hybrid Boxster. The hope is that by using off-the-shelf components, we’ll get our hybrid Boxster done and on the road before even Porsche does. The plan here is to mount an electric motor in the front trunk to power the front wheels using a 996 Carrera 4 front hub, upright, and axle setup mounted to a used Nissan Leaf motor. It won’t be the easiest project, but luckily I have some very intelligent friends who are willing to lend a hand to help me figure this part of the project out. We’ll be engineering a mounting system, an axle hookup, and cockpit operation of the EV motor from scratch. This group of friends has recently figured out how to make traction control work on a 1960s muscle car, turned a Delorean into an electric car, and swapped a full Tesla powertrain into a small Japanese car. It’s good to have friends.

Effectively the car will operate as two separate powertrains. The engine won’t talk to the electric motor, and the electric motor won’t talk to the engine. The 2.5-liter 5-speed mid-engine layout will stay in place, operated with cable shifters, hydraulic clutch, and cable throttle as it has always been. We will add a potentiometer switch to the throttle pedal which will provide a signal to the electric motor up front telling it to accelerate or not. When I put my foot to the wood, I’ll be getting the full grunt of the 205 horsepower engine in the back, and the 80 kW (110 hp) motor up front will provide 210 lb-ft of torque for mega AWD acceleration out of corners.

« But where will the batteries go? » you might be asking. Well, because this is intended to be a street legal track car, I won’t be needing a passenger seat. In a monoposto configuration, the passenger’s seat will be ditched in favor of a slew of battery power units, and a proper tonneau cover will be fabricated to make the car more aerodynamic and provide that race car aesthetic.

The long-term goal for the project is to see a massive upgrade in both the gasoline powertrain and the electric drive, as time and budgets allow.

Step 2 – Bodywork

To go with this new track-ready AWD powertrain is a new totally awesome aesthetic for the car. The major complaint that 986/996 receive is about the headlights. Those runny eggs will be ditched in favor of a smoothed over front, a GT3-style bumper, and Le Mans-style fog lights installed where one might find a license plate. Once the track-ready roll bar is installed, including door bars, a dash bar, and suspension reinforcing connections to the strut mounts both front and rear, the windshield will be ditched for a smooth tonneau over the large convertible top opening. The rear flares will stay in place to cover the massive 295 section width Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires. Once I find another set of GT3 rear wheels, I’ll add the flares to the front in order to fit a square setup. For now, the 235 section fronts will fit just fine in the front wheel wells.

An early look at the render shows the preliminary sketch. From there, we made changes to the colors, livery, roll over bar, and other minor tweaks.

Step 3 – The Livery

To get the proper look right, I worked with Kevin over a series of texts to determine exactly what we were going for. We wanted a combination of throwback that was instantly recognizable as a Porsche livery, but to tie it in to the modern Hybrid aesthetic. All of the old Porsche race cars in the late 1960s were given a white base with a set of black wheels, so let’s start there.

The project was originally inspired by Porsche’s 909 Bergspyder (I wanted to build a Boxster Bergspyder before I even knew Porsche already built one!). I had initially wanted to give the car a simple red stripe livery like the 909 which has been lost to time. We decided the livery was too simple to apply to this creation. We came up with a list of cars that inspired our collective creativity, and Kevin worked diligently to apply those liveries to the body here.

Ultimately, it was Rod Emory’s 911K that gave us the stroke of inspiration we needed to reach the ultimate iteration of style that we wanted.

The 911K’s aesthetic brought us back to the similarly styled 907 LH which won the 24 Hours of Daytona back in 1968.

Then, as a play toward the future, we decided to replace the 907’s « P » prototype designation with the « HY » designation given to Porsche’s most recent Le Mans winner, the 919 Hybrid. Replace the 907’s yellow with Porsche’s distinct Acid Green touches on the livery and the brake calipers. Porsche uses this color to identify its hybrid models, which is why we chose to use it here. And there you have the final design.

Step 4 – Conclusion

It was an absolute joy to work through this process with Kevin. He’s a great artist, and an even better human. We could not have gotten even this far without his talents, insight, and passion for the Porsche brand. Now I have the motivation I need to see this project through to fruition.

I’m going to be wrenching on this thing hard core into the fall and through the winter months in the hopes that it will be track ready, though probably not pretty, by spring. For now it’s retaining a stock 5-speed, a stock 2.5-liter motor, and a stock Nissan Leaf front axle. Eventually, I’d like to see something Mezger, preferably with turbochargers, mounted in the back. Perhaps some day I can make the car all-Porsche again after someone crashes the first Taycan. While it will have a low power N/A flat six and a low power electric motor to begin with, this allows me to learn a bit about electric drivetrains and how to manage them on track before stepping up to larger power levels. I suspect an extra 110 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque won’t go unnoticed in a car that originally came from the factory with 205/181.

The goal with this car is to reduce its weight significantly in order to offset the added weight of the electric motor, batteries, and roll structure. A 1997 Porsche Boxster is quoted as having a curb weight of 2756 pounds. I expect the entire added-on weight to be somewhere in the realm of 600 pounds. By reducing the car down to just around 2000 pounds before putting weight back into it, we should have a bit of leeway to work with. I’m about to get started on a crash course diet for the car, and will be working to find places to take weight out. Because it will be a track car with no windshield, sound deadening and interior creature comforts will be decimated. Because it doesn’t have a top, the HVAC system is going away. Because it will have proper side-impact door bars, the doors can be stripped shells. And in the process, I’ll be putting myself on a weight loss and workout regimen as well. What’s the point in dropping pounds from my car if I can’t drop pounds from myself?

What do you think? Are you ready to go along for the ride?

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The 2020 Porsche Taycan Makes An Appearance At The Formula E Finale In New York City

We are about 2 months away from the official launch of Porsche’s first all electric street car, the Taycan. In the lead up to the car’s official public unveiling, Porsche trotted one out to Brooklyn, New York to give potential consumers and EV heads a look at the thing. Porsche has already signed Neel Jani to drive the company’s Formula E racer in the 2019/20 season, and he was on hand to give the Taycan a proper flogging.

Jani on the drive: « Like our Formula E car, it has a Porsche drivetrain that is designed for performance and reliability. No matter whether it is a racing car or a series-production model, it is extremely important to drive many miles in the test phase and to gain experience with the vehicle.”

This is the Taycan’s final appearance as a « prototype » following similar events in China and Great Britain.

 
https://youtu.be/p4tdri6xS6Q
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Porsche 991 hybrid test drive

The internal combustion engine doesn’t realise it’s there,” says Chuck Moreland, owner of Elephant Racing. You might know the company – it’s a specialist in Porsche suspension – but here Moreland’s talking about the flat six in an early 991.1 3.4-litre Carrera.

Specifically, he’s talking about the Vonnen Shadow Drive, Vonnen an Elephant Racing offshoot that’s developed a hybrid 911 before Porsche itself. If it was going to be done anywhere outside Weissach, then it’s hardly surprising it was here.

Vonnen is in California, specifically Silicon Valley, the absolute global heart of innovation and technology. Moreland explains how it happened: “It was a case of us sitting around talking among ourselves and thinking, ‘hey, wouldn’t it be great if…’. And then we started exploring different ideas of how you might hybridise an existing 911 platform.”

That was three years ago. Today we’re standing around an engine and gearbox, looking at the axial flux electric motor that Vonnen has developed with a European supplier, sandwiching it between the two.

If that sounds familiar, it’s exactly what Porsche will do with the 992 to hybridise it, only it’s left space inside the gearbox to do so. With the 991 there’s no such luxury, so Vonnen had to get clever with the space it had.

It’s been a quick development cycle, especially considering this wasn’t Vonnen’s first solution. Initially Vonnen tried pushing electrically generated drive back into the gearbox via the front-axle output shaft on a 996 Carrera 4.

Moreland says: “That was more a proof of concept, but we learned a lot from it, and we recognised that there was real opportunity for improving. The biggest issue was that the torque was being added on the output shaft of the transaxle, so we weren’t taking advantage of the gear-reduction capabilities from the gearbox.”

Buoyed by the potential, Moreland went all in, saying: “Okay, cost be damned, what if we wanted to make this thing rip? What would we do?” And so we went back to the drawing board and this is what we dreamed up, and it basically addressed all the issues that existed with this car. And that’s how we got where we are.”

Squeezing an electric motor between the engine and transmission adds 26mm in length. That’s required some modification of the structure fore of the gearbox to allow clearance, the electric motor replacing the flywheel, as well as the starter motor,  and taking over all the functionality of it, including stop-start, if fitted. The batteries powering it are situated in the luggage area, robbing it of some space. 

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When Will Electric Cars Overtake Porsche’s ‘Ring Record?

First off, congratulations to Volkswagen. Porsche’s corporate bedfellow’s achievement is nothing short of remarkable. The all electric ID.R is an astonishing technical achievement, and lopped more than forty seconds off the existing lap record for electric vehicles. With a 6 minute 05.336 lap, the electric Volkswagen even bested Stefan Bellof’s fastest-ever competition lap by about 5.5 seconds. Before we consider what this might mean for Porsche, let’s give Volkswagen their due, and watch this lap.

Beyond the speed, what is slightly remarkable about this lap is the noise. The piercing wail of the electric motors isn’t anything like a gasoline engine, but at least on video it sounds significantly louder than the diesel LMP1 cars of a decade ago, like the Audi R10 TDI. Whether or not it’s appealing is another matter, but it is far from silent. The car itself seems to fall somewhere between a modern LMP car and the wildest of World Time Attack cars, with aero that steps far beyond what FIA rules generally permit.

But what does this mean for Porsche? Though remarkable, the ID.R is not yet putting the 919 Hybrid Evo’s lap-time in jeopardy. The hybrid-powered Porsche’s laptime sits more than 45 seconds beyond the all-electric Volkswagen. Part of this is down to power- the Porsche produces 1,150 horsepower, while the Volkswagen makes around 670. The hybrid Porsche is also approximately 400 pounds lighter than the Volkswagen, despite carrying two types of power system.

As technology marches on though, the electric powertrains are bound to get both lighter and more powerful. As the power and weight gap decreases, so too will the Porsche’s performance advantage. There is no reason to assume that the ID.R’s record is the be-all end-all of electric performance, or even that its record will stand for long as technology improves.

What then is the best approach for Porsche? While Porsche has an upcoming line of all-electric production cars, and will be joining the Formula E open wheel series this fall, the brand has not given any inkling of producing an all-electric competition car of this type. Should Porsche be setting their own electric records and hold all the titles, or is this not Porsche’s fight? After all, Porsche’s record did challenge the rest of the world to « be faster. » Let us know in the comments below.

 
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New Generation Batteries Inbound by 2020 and Taycan Interest Swells

The future is electric, and Porsche is embracing the change. Per CEO Oliver Blume; « Electromobility means a high level of efficiency and outstanding performance, making it a fantastic fit for Porsche. » The models Porsche currently produces reflect this. With hybrid models in three segments, the brand is leading the market in hybrid systems integration. Indeed, Porsche is unique in positioning plug-in hybrid models at numerous points in the model range. In the case of the Panamera, hybrids are available at both extremes of the spectrum, including the top-performing Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid.

Hybridization is not the end of Porsche’s commitment to an environmentally-conscious future. Per Mr. Blume; « we are unconditionally committed to the Paris climate protection objectives. Ultimately, as car manufacturers it’s very clear that we have a responsibility to reduce CO2 emissions from transport. » The next phase, heralded by the upcoming Taycan, signals several pieces of new technology.

The next generation of batteries is reportedly coming next year. The new technology will increase the ampere-hours of Porsche’s battery cells from 37 to 47. The update will facilitate longer ranges, which will benefit Porsche products.

Understanding the Shift to Electrification

EU CO2 limits are due to decrease by 35% by 2030. In the scope of an automotive product cycle, this is an extremely short amount of time. Like higher-volume manufacturers, including those also under the Volkswagen corporate umbrella, Porsche is obligated to comply with the new regulations. Rather than allowing other brands to take up the brunt of the change, Porsche is opting to lead from the front.

According to Mr. Blume, though Porsche’s market share is comparatively small, he and the executive board have decided it is out of the question to do anything other than set a positive example for the rest of the market. Though the projected carbon dioxide figures are « extremely ambitious, » Mr. Blume believes that Porsche will be able to meet or exceed the new limits in the time allotted.

In addition to the eagerly-awaited Taycan and Taycan Cross-Turismo, the next generation Macan is due to be all-electric. Though no plans are currently in place to make the 911 all electric, Mr. Blume, even indicating that the 911 will be offered with an internal combustion engine as long as is legally permissible, does note that the 992 is being developed to be hybrid-capable.

Demand for Taycan Swells

We, among others, are extremely eager to see the new Taycan when it debuts in September. In the interim, Porsche is registering interest in the model to help scale initial production. So far, the brand has confirmed interest from more than 20,000 prospective buyers worldwide. Registration of interest is accompanied by a €2,500 downpayment on the as-yet unreleased model.

Per Detlev von Platen, Member of the Executive Board for Sales and Marketing at Porsche AG; “The overwhelming interest in the Taycan shows us that our customers and fans are just as excited about the first Porsche electric athlete as we are – and we’ve therefore increased our production capacities, (t)he Taycan will be the most sporty and most technically advanced vehicle in its segment – a true Porsche.”

The Taycan will debut in September, and is due to launch before the end of the year. Quoted performance figures include a 0-62 mph sprint of « considerably less » than 3.5 seconds, and a range of more than 500 kilometers when measured by NEDC standards.

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