3 Non-GTs

Also from Issue 172

  • Winner Meets the 997 GT3
  • First Drive: 2009 Cayman S
  • Creation 901: Part 2
  • Insane 993 GT2 Replica
  • Driving a 550 Spyder
  • U.S. 968 Turbo S Replica
  • “Barn-Find” 356B
  • Targa Newfoundland 914-6
  • Market Update: 924, 944, and 968
  • Early 911S Man: Chuck Miller
  • Interview: Wolfgang Dürheimer
  • Porsche Icon: RSR Proto
  • The $23 Wheel Refinish
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With the Cayman sorted, Bob, Steve, and I head for the coast and first photos, hopeful Jared will catch up not long after. The bet pays off. Two hours and a lazy lunch later, Bob is pulling his camera gear out along a darkened redwood road when we hear a flat six ripping through tall trees. It sounds like a Cup car. The three of us let out a cheer as Jared flies past, lights up his brakes, and turns around.

First photos done, I start the day in the hillbilly’s creation. Jared isn’t too tall, so his fixed-height Cobra seat puts the head atop my long torso too high. But what a seat; you’ll go nowhere and like it. The thin-rimmed stock steering wheel remains, but its multi-function buttons don’t work with all of the gadgets on board. Traq­mate data acquisition, Chase Cams, laser/radar detectors, iPod adapters, MRI machines, blinking lights, squawking gizmos, a Rocky and Bullwin­kle panel where a visor should be…you name it, it’s in here. I just want to drive, so I ignore all that and twist the ignition key, snick the factory short-shifter into first, and move out.

In every way, it’s an extreme 911. Once up to speed, it feels noisy, alive, nervous. The 3.8 is loud, but backs up the bark with plenty of bite. The added thrust is nice, but the more pleasing difference between this car and a stock 997S is the way it makes its power. The supercharger fills in the low-end torque curve and helps breathing in the upper reaches. Unlike the stock 3.8S, it pulls past 7000 rpm with abandon. Gear after gear, the acceleration is impressive, the reach to redline rewarding. It’s easily the fastest narrow-body 997 I’ve tested. 400+ horses at the rear wheels? Yeah, I believe it.

The flat six isn’t this 997S’s bright spot, though. The chassis is. While not immediately confidence-inspiring, it turns in beautifully and rotates into plenty of mechanical grip. The 15-inch Brembos are noisy but stupendous, easily washing off speed between curves before the confidence to carry more speed through them comes. As the minutes and miles pass, it does. Work the tires up to temperature and the car gels, encouraging you to probe the edge of its rear-end adhesion before showing you even more grip. Jared calls Toyo’s R888s “edge-seeking,” and he’s exactly right.

Keeping the Toyos in contact with the Loop’s mix of varied surfaces is the job of Moton’s highly adjustable coil-over dam­pers. We’ve liked these shocks for some time, but Syn­ergy Racing’s setup demonstrates just how good they can be. The settings for compression and rebound are a home run, providing that oft-sought but rarely achieved mix of minimal body roll and a distinct lack of bobbing over bad surfaces. The result is a stiff 911 that actually rides well, its tires following the pavement beautifully — ensuring traction and building driver confidence, too.

The chassis talks to you, telegraphing its every move through the steering wheel’s thin rim and the seat’s deeply bolstered basin. All the marks of a brilliant setup are here. The nervousness initially perceived is the edge that makes this a 911 more neutral than it has any right to be. The front end feels like it’s got weight on it and requires less trailbraking to load the tires for turn-in. Often, a lift is all you need. Through the curve, side-loading builds progressively. Back on the gas, rear-end grip is reassuring without removing the ability to alter your angle on throttle, something easier to do here than in a GT3 thanks to the 3.8’s supercharged torque.

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