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Mezger

What It’s Like When A 996 Turbo Goes Under the Knife for New Coolant Pipes

Yes, removing the Mezger is that daunting.

The one chink in the Mezger’s armor is its flimsy coolant pipes. For such a bulletproof motor, it seems strange that Porsche just glued the coolant pipes on. Though press-fitted, these coolant lines are known to pop off under high RPM load. Hoovie’s lousy luck meant his first trip to Heartland Motorsports Park was interrupted by his own lines popping off. Fortunately, this did not prompt a spin down the front straight, nor did it cook the motor. It was embarrassing though, and as it turned out, quite pricey to mend.

The Mezger motors that see the track will sustain higher temperatures and loads which are prone to make these lines disengage from the coolant console, and ensuring they stay in place during hard cornering and high revs requires a costly fix. While the cheaper band-aid fix would only set him back a few hundred dollars, the sensible approach costs ten times that. After dropping the engine, the hoses need to be pinned or welded in place, and the especially prudent drivers will replace the problematic OEM plastic elbows with stainless steel units.

The process of removing the engine is more labor intensive than dropping an M96. Turbos, intercoolers, head shields, and all the other forced induction ancillaries take a bit more time and effort. The starter and turbo inlets need to come out too, since they won’t clear the CV axles. With a few minor wiring hurdles cleared, the Mezger can be freed from its cramped confines. However, the process takes Hoovie and Wizard nearly two whole days to complete—which is why he was quoted nearly three large.

If there’s one piece of uplifting news here, it’s that BBi Autosport decided to help by offering to fix the busted water pipe situation. BBi, as well as a host of other Porsche-centric shops, can weld the coolant pipes in place for what should be a permanent fix. If you have any Mezger-powered Porsche, be it a Turbo or a GT3, you can preemptively have this work done, so it doesn’t come apart and leave you stranded without coolant. If you can remove your motor to get the « coolant console » out, as Mr. Hoover has, it’ll help save you a ton of labor.

Now you know. Let his misfortune save you a ton of time and money!

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The Lousy Luck Of A Porsche 996 Track Day Explosion

Though Hoovie hasn’t enjoyed the best luck with his purchases, he’s a brave soul who never fails to see the potential in his Porsches. His latest acquisition, a 996 Turbo, had to see the circuit, and Hoovie took some additional precautionary measures to help avoid some of the trackday headaches he’s suffered in the last few years.

After the 3.4-liter M96 in his first Porsche 911 blew, he swapped a Chevrolet LS engine in its place to try for a unusual build that, with the American V8’s renowned reliability, promised him smoother sailing. Unfortunately, that engine promptly exploded during its first trackday.

The 996 Turbo is the first of Hoovies cars which was truly stout enough to handle trackday abuse.

Perhaps Hoovie is a glutton for punishment, perhaps he’s curious beyond reason, or maybe he’s just desperate for attention-grabbing footage of automotive explosions, but he decided to take the 996 Turbo to Heartland Motorsports Park. This time, he prepared for the event with a new set of brakes, and with the race-bred Mezger motor sitting betwixt those orange haunches, he stood a greater chance to leave another trackday with his wallet closed and his head held high.

Though the 996 Turbo is a workhorse, it has one or two flaws. One of which are the coolant lines, which have a habit of coming loose with age and hard acceleration. Those who track their cars regularly know that pinning these lines is a must lest they want to douse the surface of the circuit in sweet-smelling coolant. Unfortunately, Hoovie didn’t get the memo.

After a successful session, Hoovie’s enthusiasm was quickly deflated after he started spewing coolant all over the track. While this is a repairable fix and shouldn’t have him wringing his hands for too long, you can’t help but feel for him.

When will Hoovie find a track toy that can last more than a few sessions?

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Reviving Hans Mezger’s Personal 911S

Per Michael Eiden, the current owner of this red 911S; “The previous owner was really desperate. He had the body of the car restored and also replaced the side panels with the corresponding spare parts. But when assembling it, nothing fitted together again – it was like it was jinxed.” But the reason the bodywork wouldn’t fit back together wasn’t immediately apparent. It seemed that there was no logical reason that this ’68 911 shouldn’t be like all the others- at least until its ownership history was thoroughly investigated.

This particular 1968 911S was owned first by Porsche itself, and then from 1969-1973 by Porsche engine master Hans Mezger. Mezger, perhaps best known for his work with turbocharged engines, had been associated with the company for decades by the time he did his best known work. In the 1950s Mezger worked on the Porsche Formula 1 program. In the 1980s he designed the TAG-Porsche V6 used in Formula 1. In the 1990s he brought us the turbocharged 911 GT1 flat-six- an engine which would power top-tier Porsche models for more than 15 years after its inception. Even in retirement, Mezger is still tied to Porsche, and contributed expertise to Singer.

What is little-known, however, is that Mezger helped design the original 911 engine. “There was still a lot to do when I joined the team in 1963”, recalls Mezger. The most important action was to redesign the valve drive. The previously centrally positioned camshafts migrated into the cylinder heads of the 2.0-liter six-cylinder boxer, which – as with the Formula 1 V8 – was also given an eight-bearing crankshaft and thus better tolerated higher engine speeds. »

Mezger’s design not only aided power, it also made the cars more efficient. “Two things happened whenever we made the angle of the valves smaller: the power output increased and the fuel consumption dropped”, explains the technical genius.  The engineers worked at their drawing boards for a long time before committing themselves: 27 degrees to the vertical for the inlet valve and 33 degrees for the exhaust valve – a perfect decision that was retained until the end of the air-cooled boxer. »

Secrets of Porsche’s Ownership

But simply being owned by a master engineer doesn’t necessarily make the car hard to restore. This 1968 911S wasn’t just any 911S, it was a pre-production car which carried many of the features of the updated 1969 cars. The air-cooled flat-six was equipped with mechanical fuel injection, and the car received ventilated brakes. Most importantly, this 1968 received the 57mm-longer 2,268mm wheelbase used from 1969 on. This additional 2.24″ meant that the 1968 replacement panels no longer fit. The final piece to the puzzle apparently came from Mezger himself, who indicated that the car had been used as a company car of Ferdinand Piëch, then head of development at Porsche. .

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997 GT3 v GT3 RS: Sharkwerks 4.1s

Engine displacement is everything in the US. The home of the Hemi is also the land where big V8s are shoehorned into just about everything, whether it’s for the school run or the race track. Bigger is supposedly better when it comes to cars, this a heavily enriched ideology ingrained into many aspects of general US society.

However, in the world of Porsche, superior engine size has never formed part of the agenda. While Lamborghini’s first car in 1963 was the 3.5-litre, V12 350GT, for example, Porsche’s original 911 had a measly 2.0-litre flat six. Lamborghini still uses the V12 in its Aventador today, while Audi’s R8 is powered by a 5.0-litre V10, and Ferrari’s V8 and V12 powerplants are considered legendary among the wider car enthusiast population. Despite this the plucky 911 sports car has continued to battle successfully against its bigger-engined rivals on circuit, sticking fiercely to its winning recipe of a robust flat six and an exquisite chassis.

It is this approach which Alex Ross, owner of Californian Porsche tuners SharkWerks, has always found favour with. British born, his extracurricular indulgence in Lotus is therefore forgiveable, but the overachieving 911 has always been the primary source of his motoring aspirations. This, fused with a hint of that ‘bigger is better’ American way, is what has given us the SharkWerks 4.1.

Long-time readers of Total 911 will already know of the prowess of the one-of-four Gulf-inspired Rennsport in our pictures, which we first featured
in early 2015. Acquired in 2011 before being ‘run in’ with a 2,600-mile jaunt across the USA, Alex 
and the SharkWerks team found tuning potential in its 3.8-litre Mezger engine, this becoming the trailblazer for its pioneering 4.1-litre programme. It all started before Porsche had even released its own 997 GT3 RS 4.0 – we told you the States does it bigger and better.

The fruits of more than five years of development includes a partnership with EVOMS to produce a race-spec, lightweight billet 80.44mm crank, CNC machined from billet 4340 high-alloy steel and tested to more than 9,500rpm, as well as a 104.5mm bore piston and cylinder set. The cylinders use steel liners and the pistons are Teflon-coated with anti-wear skirts and titanium wrist pins, saving 20 grams per piston and wrist pin combo against factory. In terms of top end, SharkWerks’ engine has ‘Hammerhead’ Shark-spec headwork along with race-style valve guides for longevity and cam adjuster strengthening, with everything balanced and blueprinted. A custom multi-indexed rotary-style oil pump is used, and the camshafts are SharkWerks/EVOMS spec.

The engine case has been race-prepped with, among other things, improved oiling techniques according to SharkWerks’ own wizardry. This is all partnered to EVOMSit ECU tuning; an RS 4.0-litre clutch pack, though Alex says the original factory set-up does work; a choice of SharkWerks lightweight street or track exhaust, and a host of chassis upgrades including Brembo GT brakes, Bilstein Clubsport double adjustable coilovers, RSS rear adjustable links, bump steer kit, thrust arm bushings and lower control arms, plus some aerodynamic adjustments.

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Porsche 996: GT3 Genesis

GT3: the most evocative, desirable collection of letters and numbers as you can ask for to be tacked to the rump of a 911. Add RS into the mix and that’s even more so. The GT3, as its name and subsequent RS spin-off highlights, has its tyres firmly rooted in Porsche’s racing activities. It’s enough to elevate all the cars here above the usual rhetoric spewed about the once ‘undesirable’ 996, the GT3 badge signifying something very special indeed.

There are three GT3s in the 996 generation, the Gen1 available from 1998-2001, the Gen2 coming in 2003 until 2005, with the RS spun off that between 2004 and 2005. That Gen1 car is unique among GT3s, largely because it’s the only GT3 not to have a same-generation RS model based on it, the Gen1 being Porsche’s GT3 genesis.

It’s inconceivable that you’re reading this and don’t know at least the basics surrounding the GT3. Lighter, more engaging, its creation allowing homologation of parts to allow Porsche to race the 911 to great success around the world. Actually, with the original GT3 that lighter element is a misnomer, as put the Gen1 car on the scales and it’s carrying around 30kg more mass than its base 996 Carrera relation.

Blame that on the marginally heavier G96/90 gearbox and M96/76 engine, as well as an additional engine radiator. Porsche didn’t elect to go down the lightweight panels, thinner glass route with its first GT3 model, though it did bin the rear seats in a small – 8kg – concession to mass reduction, while Sport bucket seats removed around 20kg over the standard Carrera’s pews. As a means of recompense for the weight gain, the M96/76 engine, more commonly referred to in reverential tones as ‘the Mezger’, was fitted, its specification being pure motorsport, with lightened, stronger internals to cope with the stresses of winning competition.

And what compensation, the Le Mans-winning GT1-derived, naturally aspirated 3.6-litre flat six unit was rated at 360bhp at 7,200rpm – redlining at 7,800rpm – with peak torque of 370Nm. It’s a glorious engine with enough power to allow the GT3 to reach 62mph in 4.8 seconds, 100mph in 10.2 seconds and a quoted top speed of 187mph. But it isn’t the numbers that matter, really, rather how it delivers its performance. In Walter Röhrl’s hands the first GT3 lapped the Nürburgring in 7 minutes 56 seconds – isn’t it ridiculous to think how far things have come in under 20 years? Stopping all that are 330mm cross-drilled, inner-vented discs of 330mm in diameter, grabbed by four-piston monoblock callipers.

Getting into James Samuel’s yellow Gen1 car today demonstrates exactly what Porsche intended its customers to do with their GT3s: track them. Why else would Porsche include adjustable suspension with extended-axle geometry sitting 30mm lower than standard, an adjustable rear wing and the possibility to quickly (relatively speaking here, and if you’re a race mechanic) swap out gear ratios to suit differing tracks, as well as the synchro rings? To that Porsche added differing hubs, with 10mm larger bearings over the Carrera’s 70mm ones for the greater forces racing tyres would exert. Spherical top joints more rigidly position the front suspension, the same possible at the rear if you’re off racing, the GT department adding five alternative mountings at the back for the adjustable tubular anti-roll bars.

For the full feature, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 167 in shops now or get it delivered to your door. You can also download a digital copy, featuring a bonus gallery, to your chosen Apple or Android device. 

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