Alter Ego

This brutal 993 belies the owner who turbocharged it himself.

March 4, 2011

Also from Issue 191

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  • 2013 918 RSR
  • Speedster vs. Carrera GTS
  • Pikes Peak RSKs
  • Daytona 2011
  • 1973 911T Penske Tribute
  • 1973 911S Brumos Tribute
  • Who really designed the 914?
  • Belgian Police 911s
  • Market Update: Early 911s
  • Hotter Cayenne S Hybrid
  • Tech Forum
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Princeton Wong’s 993 lacks subtlety. Nearly all of it. Tracing the lines of this Porsche from front to rear, the only suggestion of restraint is the lack of a rear wing. In case you’re wondering, that particular piece of bodywork is back in the shop, awaiting track duty. In its place is a plain decklid rendered in carbon fiber, because Princeton’s Midnight Blue 993 is destined for a more leisurely stroll on the twilit streets of Houston tonight.

“I’ll drive us to a parking lot,” says Jason Herrera, the car’s caretaker and Princeton’s project mentor, after refusing to toss the keys my way. “You can get used to the clutch there, before you drive it on the street.” I shake off the face slap and mutter something about having driven some pretty finicky Porsches. He nods silently and smiles. I drop in over the thigh bolster of the passenger Recaro SPG, rotate in, and fumble with the Sparco five-point harness.

The 3.6 takes some throttle to coax it to life. Considering the fact it’s turbocharged, the engine has a surprising exhaust note: It’s two parts GT3 RSR, one part industrial tree shredder. “You should have heard it before the turbos,” remarks Jason, his voice elevated above the gurgling din of idle. “Princeton wanted straight pipes. It was really loud then.”

Jason eases the 993 onto the highway. He has a parking lot in mind, and soon I find myself concentrating on the differing textures of every seam on this stretch of Texas asphalt, perfectly rendered through my backside by the factory RSR/Racer’s Group suspension. We exit the highway and turn into the empty parking lot of a computer superstore. Pagid Yellow brake pads sing as we stop in the middle of the blacktop. I hoist myself from the 993 and, as I round the nose, resist the temptation to say, “Okay Jason, just watch this.”

My prudence is duly rewarded: Stall. Stall. Buck, buck, stall. Dustin Hoffman’s “I’m an excellent driver” line in Rainman echoes in my recently overconfident head. The featherweight, custom-machined GT3 RSR flywheel and Tilton twin-disc carbon racing clutch feel like an on/off switch, but that isn’t the only thing I’m fighting. After a bit of play at the top of the throttle, stiffness builds quickly, and it takes a fair bit of pressure before gas-pedal travel frees. This makes finessed throttle control a challenge. On the fourth try, though, success is mine. After a couple more, I find myself awaiting an opening in traffic. Stall.

Power from the 3.6-liter six — boosted by two Garrett GT30R turbos — is abrupt and dramatic. The Racepak UDX dash is unlit, and at dusk I trust my ears to pick out the shift point. It comes quickly, and I bounce off the 7000-rpm limiter once or twice under hard acceleration. For all the raw severity afforded by 441 hp and 357 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels, power delivery feels more linear than I expect…at least, once I pass through the throttle’s pressure point. Braking for a turnaround, the Pagids sing as Tial 44-mm V-band wastegates alternately ping and tap. An attempt at a heel-toe downshift is rebuffed by the pesky throttle.

Turn-in is crisp and instantaneous. The platform feels noticeably stiffer than a stock 993, owing in part to an Autopower four-point roll cage. A sure-footed feel at the nose makes up for any vagueness at the rear due to the very stiff suspension. I sense playfulness back there, and that’s quickly confirmed as I transition to throttle…

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