Being a Porsche enthusiast has gotten a lot more interesting since the Cayman was introduced in 2006 and the PDK transmission became an option in 2009, as debates over rear-engine vs. mid-engine and manual versus dual-clutch have led to animated discussions at gatherings of the Porsche faithful. Though one can make good arguments for either side of these debates, even the most dedicated 911 purists have to admit the mid-engine layout is more ideal in a sports car, and there’s no denying that a dual-clutch transmission will shift faster than any of us ever would with a manual. With the advantage the 911 still has in outright horsepower, it makes sense that an ideal Porsche track or club racing car would combine the best components of the 911 with the Cayman’s mid-engine layout and that it would be fastest with a PDK transmission.
DeMan Motorsport has been turning both 911s and Caymans into potent track weapons for years, including the 911s that won the Grand Sport class team and driver’s championships in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series in 2012. Shop owner Rick DeMan, a racer himself, understood the benefit of installing 911 components into the Cayman chassis and has become a specialist at building them at his shop in Blauvelt, New York. To show just how good these crossbred Porsches are, DeMan brought a pair of them, one with PDK and one with a manual, to Monticello Motor Club for a day of driving along with championship-winning pro driver Nick Longhi. Longhi was there not only to show how truly capable these cars are, but also to see how much faster a pro can lap with a PDK-equipped Porsche than one with a manual.
DeMan’s pair of Cayman track cars are both built from street cars that came off the showroom floor, with the white car based on a 2009 Cayman S with a PDK transmission and the black car starting life as a 2012 Cayman R with a manual (both Type 987 cars after the first generation midlife facelift).
DeMan likes the Cayman S model as a starting point for building a track car, especially those that involve engine swaps. “The Cayman S is a great donor car to build a race car, because the chassis, drive-train and transmission were all the same from 2009 to 2012,” says DeMan. “The Cayman R comes with some lightweight components and a little extra power and is a great car to start with if you want to just add proper safety equipment and some race prep, but in the engine swap projects we take out most of that stuff anyway, including the 3.4-liter engine.”
Complete disassembly is the first step in turning these road cars into track cars, followed by the welding in of a safety cage with eight points of contact and installation of all the safety components, along with custom-trimmed door panels and center console pieces. It’s then that the serious performance work begins and the lines start to blur between Cayman and 911.
The platform and electronics on these cars is pure Cayman, but most of the go-fast parts come from the 911. At the heart of both is the 3.8-liter engine from the 997 Carrera S, which makes around 387 hp in stock form but with additional tuning from DeMan puts out 403 hp. Getting the 911 engine into the Cayman is basically an easy fit, though DeMan says it requires some minor fabrication to switch some components over from the Cayman engine, mainly the intake manifold and the oil filter and cooler. Both cars also use a suspension based on the setup from the 997 GT3 Cup with Moton dampers, which requires custom fabrication at the rear for fitment, and brakes are from the 997 GT3 with custom ABS calibration. The manual transmission Cayman gets a lightweight flywheel and race clutch, while the PDK car gets additional cooling to keep transmission temperatures down. Spent gases are sent through stainless long-tube headers and a race exhaust.
This pair of Caymans may be nearly identical mechanically except for their transmissions, but there are some major differences in their bodywork. The black car sticks with its stock Cayman R body, but the white car is fitted with the carbon-fiber nose, fenders and doors from the 997 GT3 Cup, which reduces weight by around 100 lb and improves cooling and front downforce. The GT3 Cup nose also gives this Cayman a striking appearance, as it mixes 911 and Cayman design elements and gives the car a much more aggressive appearance than the stock Cayman. You can’t really tell by looking, but the GT3 Cup body pieces require some special tweaks to get them fitted correctly.