Project 914 3.6: Part 17

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Project 914 3.6: Part 17 1
Project 914 3.6: Part 17 2
Project 914 3.6: Part 17 3
Project 914 3.6: Part 17 4
Project 914 3.6: Part 17 5
Project 914 3.6: Part 17 6

When I arrived at Premier Protective Films in Fremont, California, Project 914 3.6 looked out of place amongst all of the Porsches, Ferraris, and other expensive new cars being covered in the film. Premier’s installers warmed to the old 914 anyway, saying they had never seen a better black paint job — quite a compliment given the level of machinery they see. Then they got to the bad news, warning me that any kind of film is going to be visible.

While some owners elect to have Premier cover their whole cars (doing a whole rear quarter-panel in one piece of clear film!), we elected to protect the hood, headlight covers, front bumper, and lower front valance as well as the rockers and some small areas around the fenders. The job took several hours and cost more than $1,200, but the installation and service were both flawless. The film was far smoother than the 3M product, though you can still pick up a bit of grain here and there if you look closely enough. While it’s disappointing to lose any shine, I feel the added protection is a fair tradeoff.

At this point, I had put some miles on the car and had decided to try a performance chip. Some feel that the factory Porsche programming is the way to go, but Porsche has to employ safety margins for poor fuel and adverse conditions, things aftermarket chip-making companies can take greater liberties with. While most people add performance chips because they are after more power, I was after something else: improved driveability.

I contacted 911Chips in Los Angeles because it offers chips with an anti-stall feature. Stock 993s use heavy flywheels that make stop-and-go driving easy due to their propensity to store rotating energy. Unfortunately, the conversion flywheel required to couple a 993 engine to our 915 transmission is fairly light. And this, combined with a tall first gear, made Project 914 3.6 a little touchy in stop-and-go traffic. Stalls were frequent.

Installing the chip only took about 30 minutes, and will probably take even less time in cars with ECUs that are more easily accessed. To install our chip, we disconnected the battery, removed the ECU’s cover, and swapped the factory chip for the new one. Note that not all models have a removable chip, and post-1995 OBD II engine computers can be difficult to modify. Also, be sure to check local laws before changing any chip in your car.

911Chips claims a 16- to 18-hp gain on premium fuel due to optimized air/fuel ratios and ignition timing, but the first thing I noticed was a significant torque boost between idle and 4000 rpm. The car immediately felt snappier at low revs and seemed to pull harder on the top end, too. As for downsides? The chip makes the 3.6 idle at a higher speed — but the anti-stall feature proved great in traffic.

Corner-balanced, filmed, and chipped, Project 914 3.6 is finally finished. I’ll add a few more miles before the next installment, which will close this series out with driving impressions and a full accounting of the costs involved. In the meantime, I’ll be doing what I meant to do all along: driving a very fast 914.

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