The Truth About Cars » TPC http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:25:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » TPC http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Review: Porsche 997 Turbo By TPC http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/review-porsche-997-turbo-by-tpc/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/review-porsche-997-turbo-by-tpc/#comments Fri, 11 Dec 2009 16:52:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=338900 IMG_2688The fastest car I have ever driven is, without a doubt, the Switzer P800 variant of Porsche’s 911 GT2, as reviewed here. The folks at TPC have a roughly similar tuning package that retains the Porsche variable-geometry turbochargers, claimed to produce 775 horsepower and rather amusingly called the “775 Blitzkrieg”. This past September, I had the opportunity to take a ride with TPC’s founder Mike Levitas in the prototype Blitzkrieg. It’s awfully quick, if perhaps not quite as violently impressive as Switzer’s car. However, since TPC was unwilling to let us drive the Blitzkrieg, and since TTAC is unwilling to follow the lead of EVO, Top Gear, and pretty much every other print rag in the free world by writing-up a ride-along as a road test, that’s where we have to let the matter rest. It seems like a good car and if you have money to burn, give TPC a call to find out for yourself.

IMG_2686Luckily for us, TPC customer Joseph Lakowicz was on hand and he positively insisted that I drive his Meteor Grey 997 TT Tiptronic, tuned by TPC to produce approximately six hundred horsepower. Faced with this opportunity to pedal yet another ten-second car on the public roads, I did what any of TTAC’s readers would have done: I took the TPC Tip TT (that’s a mouthful) to visit my childhood home in Columbia, Maryland. I expected that we might be challenged at stoplights by machinery as diverse as the Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX350, and that we would smoke those mothers. This expectation was not entirely fulfilled, as you will see.

It’s been a while since I lived in the little house on Tower Top Court in Columbia’s Long Reach Village. In fact, it’s been more than twenty-six years. One might think that Porsche’s “PCM” navigation system would be capable of finding a three-decade-old home on the East Coast, but in the end Joe and I had to resort to using my BlackBerry’s Google Maps application. “I really don’t mess with the navigation… it doesn’t seem very good,” Joe opined, and he is correct. PCM is a mess and you could get better navigation in a twenty-grand Ford Fusion, or by selecting the very cheapest Garmin GPS at your local Best Buy.

Once the BlackBerry pointed us in the proper direction, however, we were able to head that way with nothing less than utter ferocity. This four-wheel-drive Turbo launches from a stoplight as if it were departing the USS Nimitz on the hook of a steam IMG_2683catapult. Like all pre-PDK 997 Turbos, this is a five-speed, torque-converter gearbox without launch control, so one merely steps on the brake and dials up about 2500 rpm. Releasing the brake will chirp all four corners, flash the traction light, and render the traffic on both sides invisible.

Given that the Tiptronic offers a dilatory, uncooperative sort of steering-wheel manual control, one might be tempted to make one’s own shifts during these stoplight blasts. My second attempt at doing so caused the grey Turbo to select neutral instead of second gear, forcing me to coast to the side of the road as the aforementioned Highlanders and RX350s cruised triumphantly by. Nothing short of restarting the car would permit it to select a forward gear again. It turns out that the 997Turbo is too smart to let you grenade the transmission with excessive force during a shift, surely a reassurance to anybody contemplating pumping-up their own Porsche with this kind of thrust. Best to leave it in “D” and enjoy a completely no-hassle trip into the ten-second zone.

After more than 24,000 satisfactory miles, Joe swears by the concept of the Tiptronic Turbo. I’m not so sure, but there is some massive satisfaction to be had from driving something so disturbingly quick and yet so completely tractable. In the stop-and-go traffic that characterizes Columbia’s main roads, the TPC tune is utterly unnoticeable. This Turbo is as friendly as a Camry while crawling at five miles per hour, and if the navigation is garbage, the hand-sewn cocoa leather dashboard is first-rate enough to soften the annoyance.

IMG_2675Let a hole in traffic appear, no matter how slight, and the big Porsche rips through it with a slurred downshift and a lag-free punch in the back. It is quiet, tractable, and faster than a 997 Cup Car in a straight line. This on-road supremacy is the fulfilled promise of the 1974 Turbo Carrera model, made reality after thirty-some years. Track junkies and back-road blasters will find more satisfaction in a GT3 or — whisper it — a Cayman S. The stock Turbo suffers from being a little slower than a GT-R or Z06, but TPC neatly rectifies this problem at a price considerably below what Porsche would charge.

I arrived at my childhood home to find it much smaller, and much humbler, than I remembered. A quick check of recent real estate sales, however, showed that it was worth more than four hundred grand. This Turbo is similarly deceptive. Subtle to a fault, easy to drive, it can still do the business like almost nothing else. The child in me likes it, as does the adult.
IMG_2675 IMG_2683 IMG_2685 IMG_2686 IMG_2688 IMG_2688-thumb Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/review-porsche-997-turbo-by-tpc/feed/ 11
Review: Porsche Cayman S Turbo By TPC http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/review-porsche-cayman-s-turbo-by-tpc/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/review-porsche-cayman-s-turbo-by-tpc/#comments Fri, 04 Dec 2009 17:15:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=338102 IMG_2662As a child, I owned something called the Lego “Expert Builder Car”. It was a fascinating product. From one box of a thousand or so Lego pieces, it was possible to build many different kinds of cars, up to and including a two-seat roadster with a working transmission. Top-notch fun, and if Lego eventually took it off the market in favor of less advanced kits focusing on Star Wars, Disneyworld, and (possibly) Twilight then we have only the abject failure of the American educational system to blame.

IMG_2680Porsche has a Lego set as well. The same basic set of components is used to create everything from a $45,000 Boxster to a $230,000 GT2. If you think it costs five times as much to make a GT2 as it does a Boxster, you’re probably an outstanding candidate for one of those $11,000 Hublot watches that uses an el-cheapo ETA mechanism to actually tell time. Nope, it’s mostly additional profit at the top of the pyramid. Porsche protects their oh-so-exclusive product ladder by refusing to assemble their Legos into toys like, say, a turbocharged Cayman.

If one listens to Porsche spokespeople, they have many reasons why a turbo Cayman wouldn’t be possible, feasible, or reasonable. These reasons are quite convincing, and they are repeated ad infinitum. Eventually the strong impression is created that a turbo Cayman would be a feat equal to, say, the Manhattan Project. Which makes it all the more interesting that there’s a guy in a shed who builds them for ten grand.

Well, TPC’s Mike Levitas isn’t exactly a guy in a shed. He’s a former Rolex-GT-at-Daytona winner with an extensive engineering background, and he’s devoted a lot of thought to his pressurized Caymans. For $9,995 plus installation, he will put nearly five hundred horsepower behind the seats of Porsche’s factory-crippled hardtop Boxster.IMG_2665

I recently had the opportunity to drive a rather well-sorted TPC Cayman S Turbo at the company’s headquarters outside Washington, DC. In the name of “balance” — something Levitas can wax rather poetic about, given the opportunity — this car was set up for approximately 380 horsepower at 5psi or so of boost and modified with a variety of JRZ and TPC suspension items.

Outside of a racetrack, it’s difficult to get even a standard Cayman 2.7 to its limits, but I was able to verify in a few short triple-digit blasts that TPC’s power numbers seem very legit. This car has pull to match a GT3 and shame a 997S, delivered across a very broad torque curve. If anything, it feels stronger than a GT3 until the very end of the rev range. Naturally, TPC will happily reprofile your boost curve if you want that top-end hit for road course work or midnight street racing.

The rest of the TPC mods also seem reasonably successful. It’s not difficult to imagine that this car would run in nearly a dead heat with a brand-new GT3 around most road courses. Ride quality is no worse than what you would find in said GT3 and pothole compliance appears to be excellent. The (anonymous by request) owner of this particular example uses it as a daily driver and a stealthy, confusion-causing trackday toy. You could do the same.

And you could do it cheaply, relatively speaking. Early 3.4-liter Caymans are now crossing auction blocks for forty grand. A $25,000 check to TPC would nearly duplicate our tester, so it is perfectly possible to obtain Z06-matching performance for the price of a lightly-used Z06. Or you could look it as GT3 lap times for half price. Porsche Cars North America would no doubt prefer you didn’t.

IMG_2668Which brings us to one tiny problem with this lovely mid-engined coupe. The watercooled Porsche engines produced from 1997 to 2008 are famously fragile, even without turbocharging. Porsche kept its split-case race-style engine for the Turbo, GT3, and GT2 until the recent arrival of its completely re-engineered waterboxer. There is no way that this particular Lego set will be as durable as, say, a 2001 996 Turbo. Perhaps this was the reason Porsche never turbocharged the car, although it doesn’t explain why there’s no new-generation Cayman Turbo. Oh well. TPC states that they have yet to experience a turbo Cayman or turbo Boxster failure, which may be reassuring enough for most buyers.

As the price of Porsche’s 911 Carrera sneaks ever closer to $100,000 in even mildly-equipped form, it might be time for the German fiscal adventurists to admit that their core product is becoming rather irrelevant. A factory Cayman Turbo would offer performance just shy of the Nissan GT-R and Z06 Corvette for similar money. That’s a formula that has worked for Porsche in the past (see: 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo) and it could work again. Heck, it might just create a new generation of Porsche fans. If the men from Weissach want some help assembling their Legos, I suspect TPC would be happy to take their call.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/review-porsche-cayman-s-turbo-by-tpc/feed/ 33