Last year we introduced you to our newest project car, called simply "Project Boxster Clubsport". In that first installment we found the right car, we purchased it for a song, and since then we've been slowly removing weight from it and installing a few upgrades. So far, we're really happy with what the Boxster has become, but things came to a halt recently and sent us back to the drawing board. It's an excellent Porsche, and we aim to make it just a little bit more excellent with each improvement.
Before we get started we would need to thank Michelin. As many of you know, Michelin is a long-time sponsor of FLATSIXES.com. Recently, they have generously offered to sponsor Project Boxster Clubsport as part of their involvement with our site. Please consider checking out what Michelin has to offer by clicking their banners on this page. Without Michelin's support, and others like them, this site really wouldn't be possible.
Part 13 - Making the Best of a Bad Situation
When we last left our helpless protagonist, some careless motorist had knocked it upside the head, and sent us reeling. The damage to the front of the car was extensive, and came awfully close to totaling the car. One of my favorite parts of the car, its early Aerokit 1 front bumper, was torn beyond repair. With a bit of investigation, including the removal of the bumper, it was quickly evident that the damage was little more than skin deep. The bumper cover was obviously destroyed, as it had large cracks in it, and had been torn from most of its mounting points. Many of the brackets used to keep the bumper cover in place were also cracked and crumbled. The headlight had irreparable damage. The driver's fender is similarly bent out of shape. The sidemarker was damaged, and the headlight corner piece was just plain missing. Even the front trunk lid had some scrapes and scratches. Our Project Clubsport was hurting and in need of some help.
Work has begun, trying to source all of the parts for the 996 GT3-style front end conversion that we're planning. We have a bumper, and we have the headlights, but we're still working on finding a few bits and bobs that are needed to make it all work. In the meantime, we've done our best to get the front of the car working again, which is a bit of a bodge-job, if I'm honest. Just because the bumper is a little askew, we aren't going to let something like that stop us from enjoying the driving experience. We remain hopeful that it will all be rectified in short order. At the same time as all this, we were still trying to find a way to get our glorious Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires to fit without rubbing on the rear fenders. In case you weren't aware, 295 section width tires are just a bit wide for a 986.
When we first installed the wheels and tires we noticed that the rears rubbed just a bit on the fenders. Being that we are eventually going to install a set of lowering springs, that just would not do. Something needed to be done to find clearance for the wheels and tires. to occupy the same space.
SitRep: We have a gronked front bumper, and hood, we have a rear decklid and rear bumper with paint that is just destroyed beyond saving thanks to 20 years of desert sun, and we have a rear wheel and tire package that doesn't quite fit. So, here comes a weekend of cutting, painting, and riveting. Buckle up, we're about to go for a ride.
Step 1: Buying Fender Flares
It didn't take us very long to figure out that what we really needed for the back of the car was a small set of flares. After a few days of research, it was pretty obvious that nobody really makes a Boxster-specific flare, and nobody has really ever done this before. There's a first time for everything. The flares were originally listed for Nissan 350Z and Infiniti G35 fitment, but based on my research, the arc of their wheel openings, and the size would be close enough to make work. These were purchased from an eBay seller that doesn't appear to exist any longer for $250 delivered.
Step 2: Everything Must Go
The front of the car came off relatively easily, as the headlamps on this chassis are simple to pull in and out, and the bumper was practically already off anyway. The front trunk and rear decklid were marked for placement while they were still on the car, using a sharpie we marked a place on the lid and the hinge so that they could go back on in the same place aligned properly. Some tweaking on the driver's fender was required here also, for temporary appearance purposes.
The rear decklid, spoiler cover, and bumper were also removed and prepped for paint. The paint being used is just a workaround, to 'get by' for the short term, as we're planning to have the whole car either wrapped or repainted in the near future. Until then, we used some paint that we had sitting around to make the car stand out a bit. The ethos for this build was originally to keep the car looking somewhat as it could have come from the factory, but with this damage the project has now changed to an out-and-out track car that remains street legal. If we're going to go through those motions, we may as well give it some 'outlaw' flavor.
Step 3: Laying Paint
In the wanting-to-stand-out department, there are worse things you could do than paint the decklid and front trunk lid a bright color, and give the bumpers on each end of the car a makeover in another non-standard paint color. It was decided that we would use some cream white for the lids, and some gloss grey for the bumpers. The front bumper was really the only part that needed to be painted, but if you're going to break out the dropcloth and spray cans, you may as well go whole hog.
Step 4: Cutting and Drilling
With the paint curing on some of the exterior panels, it was time to get down to business on the rear flares. Some minor modifications were made to the flares to get them to line up with the rocker panels and the rear bumper.
Using a whole lot of painter's tape, we mocked up where we wanted the flare to go on the car. This allows you to draw on the car without damaging the paint, and also allows the drill bits to take purchase on a single point without sliding and scratching the paint. In this picture the flares are still in their original white gel-coat finish, again, as I didn't want to damage them in their final finish. This was done with the rear bumper off of the car, so as to take note of where its mounting brackets are located. You wouldn't want to cut those off, certainly.
The part that is really nerve wracking is attacking your Porsche with a cut off wheel. Cutting a few inches out of the still nice and new rear quarter panel had us cringing. Don't let your cuts wander, you'll not like the result if you can see the cut even after the flare is installed. Once the fender was cut and the holes for the rivets drilled, we dry-fit the flare with all of the studs to make sure it lined up where it needed to. Luckily it did, because there was really no going-back at that point. Time to take them off and paint the flares. We decided that neither white nor grey were appropriate for these flares, so gloss black was chosen for this piece.
Step 5: Reinstallation
Slowly but surely it all starts to look Boxster shaped again.
The rear bumper is put in place before the flares are installed. This was mostly done because the flares were still drying, but also because it was simpler and easier this way. It won't be impossible to remove the rear bumper even with the flares installed, but it'll be a little bit harder as they slightly overlap.
With the rear of the car buttoned up, the front had to be finished. While the headlights were out, we sourced another driver's side headlight corner trim, and wrapped the up in yellow vinyl that we had laying around in order to keep the driver's side unit from falling apart until the new bits could be put on. For the time being, I'm happy that I could fix the Aerokit 1 bumper well enough to keep it on until the GT3 parts are all here. The half-bra is installed mostly because it helps quiet the whistle that has gotten worse with the poorly aligned bumper. At anything over 40 miles per hour, the car will now whistle like it's in Dixie. This piece that wraps the front edge of the hood makes that sound all but disappear. It's less for aesthetics or rock protection, and more for curing an annoyance.
Step 6: 'Meatballs'
The other day it was nice and sunny, so we decided to get a little spring cleaning done to our Boxster project. The rocker panels had some small rocks wedged between them and the body, so we removed those and gave the car a little wipe down. Judging by the sludge that lay underneath, I'm not sure the rockers had ever been off of the car at all. At the same time, we had some vinyl laying around and decided to cut out a couple big white number meatballs for the side of the car to not only add to the 'boy racer' vibe that the car now has, but also to help tie the front and rear white in with the rest of the car.
For now, it's good enough that the bumper isn't dragging on the ground, the headlight has all of its bits in place again, and our nice sticky tires fit without rubbing. It may not be the prettiest thing around, but it still drives like a dream. As an interim setup, it'll do the job. We don't love it, as we'd certainly like one cohesive color much better, but it looks better than we expected it to. What do you think? Tell us in the comments below.
[All photos ©2016 FLATSIXES/Bradley C. Brownell, All Rights Reserved.]