The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry. We've had "Project Boxster Clubsport" for a few years, and it's been dormant for the last two trips around the sun. I've done some work on the car, and it's been driven a quick trip here and there, but it has mostly been laying in wait. It looked like I would have the time to give it a rehash last fall, but that fell apart. My life got infinitely busier, running this site began to take up more of my time as we grew, and other project cars took precedence. My priorities shifted, and now I'm going all in on the Boxster that has been sitting for far too long. If you're going to do something, don't do it half-assed. Climb aboard as we go whole hog on this crazy machine. It's time that this project was dragged out of the shadows and brought back into the light. It's going to be made better than ever, so lets get started!
In case you haven't seen where the project has been in the past, here are links to every installment.
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - GT3-Style Center Console Delete
Part 3 - LED license plate lights
Part 4 - Headlight Polishing
Part 5 - Tail Light Tinting
Part 6 - Emblem Delete and Paint Correction
Part 7 - Lightweight Battery
Part 8 - Short Shift Kit Installation
Part 9 - Lightweight Audio
Part 10 - Big Brakes, Spacers, and Wheel Studs
Part 11 - Wheels and Michelins
Part 12 - Parking Lot Damage
Part 13 - Flares and Paint
Part 14 - Interior Door Handle Update
Part 15 - Non-Smoker Kit
Part 16 - Stiffer Sway Bars
Part 17 - Momo Steering Wheel
Part 18 - H&R Sport Spring Installation
Part 19 - Adjustable Rear Toe Control Arms
Part 20 - Rear Suspension Braces
Part 21 - How Does It Drive?
Part 22 - Aborted Revival
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.
When taking on a project, I don't like to do things in half measures. Let's go all out, turn some heads, and make an impression. Why not take this Boxster Clubsport thing to its ultimate expression? I don't think this is a project that will ever be *done* because as time and money permits, it will always be in our best interest to make this faster and cooler. But we have laid out some goals, and worked with one of the best automotive artists in the game to bring those goals out of the ether and into reality. Right now the car is just a rendering, but the image can be a powerful motivator. By turning this into something I can stare at longingly, it has become a personal goal to work toward rather than some abstract thing in my head. So, what are we going to be doing here?
This project idea has been floating around in my head for at least 5 years now, and it's time to act. The inspiration behind this build is the Porsche street/race cars of the 1950s and 60s. Think back to something like a 356 Speedster or 550 Spyder. It was technically street legal, allowing a racer to drive the car to the race track, take the windshield off, tape off the headlights, put some numbers on the side, and race around all day before driving home again that evening. My goal is to make this a modern take on that vintage sports racer ideology. With Porsche's work toward hybrid and EV technology, why not follow in their footsteps? Therefore the mission of this project is to be able to drive to the track on EV power, race around all day, and then drive home on EV power.
Step 1 - Hybrid power
Yep, you read that right, we're following Porsche's current trajectory and building a hybrid Boxster. The hope is that by using off-the-shelf components, we'll get our hybrid Boxster done and on the road before even Porsche does. The plan here is to mount an electric motor in the front trunk to power the front wheels using a 996 Carrera 4 front hub, upright, and axle setup mounted to a used Nissan Leaf motor. It won't be the easiest project, but luckily I have some very intelligent friends who are willing to lend a hand to help me figure this part of the project out. We'll be engineering a mounting system, an axle hookup, and cockpit operation of the EV motor from scratch. This group of friends has recently figured out how to make traction control work on a 1960s muscle car, turned a Delorean into an electric car, and swapped a full Tesla powertrain into a small Japanese car. It's good to have friends.
Effectively the car will operate as two separate powertrains. The engine won't talk to the electric motor, and the electric motor won't talk to the engine. The 2.5-liter 5-speed mid-engine layout will stay in place, operated with cable shifters, hydraulic clutch, and cable throttle as it has always been. We will add a potentiometer switch to the throttle pedal which will provide a signal to the electric motor up front telling it to accelerate or not. When I put my foot to the wood, I'll be getting the full grunt of the 205 horsepower engine in the back, and the 80 kW (110 hp) motor up front will provide 210 lb-ft of torque for mega AWD acceleration out of corners.
"But where will the batteries go?" you might be asking. Well, because this is intended to be a street legal track car, I won't be needing a passenger seat. In a monoposto configuration, the passenger's seat will be ditched in favor of a slew of battery power units, and a proper tonneau cover will be fabricated to make the car more aerodynamic and provide that race car aesthetic.
The long-term goal for the project is to see a massive upgrade in both the gasoline powertrain and the electric drive, as time and budgets allow.
Step 2 - Bodywork
To go with this new track-ready AWD powertrain is a new totally awesome aesthetic for the car. The major complaint that 986/996 receive is about the headlights. Those runny eggs will be ditched in favor of a smoothed over front, a GT3-style bumper, and Le Mans-style fog lights installed where one might find a license plate. Once the track-ready roll bar is installed, including door bars, a dash bar, and suspension reinforcing connections to the strut mounts both front and rear, the windshield will be ditched for a smooth tonneau over the large convertible top opening. The rear flares will stay in place to cover the massive 295 section width Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires. Once I find another set of GT3 rear wheels, I'll add the flares to the front in order to fit a square setup. For now, the 235 section fronts will fit just fine in the front wheel wells.
An early look at the render shows the preliminary sketch. From there, we made changes to the colors, livery, roll over bar, and other minor tweaks.
Step 3 - The Livery
To get the proper look right, I worked with Kevin over a series of texts to determine exactly what we were going for. We wanted a combination of throwback that was instantly recognizable as a Porsche livery, but to tie it in to the modern Hybrid aesthetic. All of the old Porsche race cars in the late 1960s were given a white base with a set of black wheels, so let's start there.
The project was originally inspired by Porsche's 909 Bergspyder (I wanted to build a Boxster Bergspyder before I even knew Porsche already built one!). I had initially wanted to give the car a simple red stripe livery like the 909 which has been lost to time. We decided the livery was too simple to apply to this creation. We came up with a list of cars that inspired our collective creativity, and Kevin worked diligently to apply those liveries to the body here.
Ultimately, it was Rod Emory's 911K that gave us the stroke of inspiration we needed to reach the ultimate iteration of style that we wanted.
The 911K's aesthetic brought us back to the similarly styled 907 LH which won the 24 Hours of Daytona back in 1968.
Then, as a play toward the future, we decided to replace the 907's "P" prototype designation with the "HY" designation given to Porsche's most recent Le Mans winner, the 919 Hybrid. Replace the 907's yellow with Porsche's distinct Acid Green touches on the livery and the brake calipers. Porsche uses this color to identify its hybrid models, which is why we chose to use it here. And there you have the final design.
Step 4 - Conclusion
It was an absolute joy to work through this process with Kevin. He's a great artist, and an even better human. We could not have gotten even this far without his talents, insight, and passion for the Porsche brand. Now I have the motivation I need to see this project through to fruition.
I'm going to be wrenching on this thing hard core into the fall and through the winter months in the hopes that it will be track ready, though probably not pretty, by spring. For now it's retaining a stock 5-speed, a stock 2.5-liter motor, and a stock Nissan Leaf front axle. Eventually, I'd like to see something Mezger, preferably with turbochargers, mounted in the back. Perhaps some day I can make the car all-Porsche again after someone crashes the first Taycan. While it will have a low power N/A flat six and a low power electric motor to begin with, this allows me to learn a bit about electric drivetrains and how to manage them on track before stepping up to larger power levels. I suspect an extra 110 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque won't go unnoticed in a car that originally came from the factory with 205/181.
The goal with this car is to reduce its weight significantly in order to offset the added weight of the electric motor, batteries, and roll structure. A 1997 Porsche Boxster is quoted as having a curb weight of 2756 pounds. I expect the entire added-on weight to be somewhere in the realm of 600 pounds. By reducing the car down to just around 2000 pounds before putting weight back into it, we should have a bit of leeway to work with. I'm about to get started on a crash course diet for the car, and will be working to find places to take weight out. Because it will be a track car with no windshield, sound deadening and interior creature comforts will be decimated. Because it doesn't have a top, the HVAC system is going away. Because it will have proper side-impact door bars, the doors can be stripped shells. And in the process, I'll be putting myself on a weight loss and workout regimen as well. What's the point in dropping pounds from my car if I can't drop pounds from myself?
What do you think? Are you ready to go along for the ride?