To anyone who has spent some time behind the wheel of a 997, this car is instantly familiar. Its unmodified interior, and a relatively sedate exterior, does little to persuade even the most astute of enthusiasts of the potential for mayhem hidden behind them. This Porsche is a ‘sleeper’ in every sense of the word, nearly stock in appearance, sedate and restrained, but at the heart of the car, a beast is awakened at the turn of a key.
You see, I've managed to meet Anthony, the owner of this fantastic Porsche at something called Shift-S3ctor Airstrip Attack 5, a half-mile drag racing event for highly modified exotic cars, and he’s invited me along for a ride. The temporarily-closed-for-aircraft-use rural airstrip is the perfect venue for cars to reach their true potential, as the tarmac is smooth, there is runoff room for miles, and the risk to driver and spectator alike are relatively low.
The exhaust note is a handful of decibels higher than when it left the factory, yet it retains that signature sewing-machine-meets-grizzly-bear idle tone with which Mezger Turbo engines are associated. A set of Switzer-built headers and a high-flow muffler help the engine exhale, but the noise isn’t overbearing, or detract from the driving experience, even at higher speeds. Only the Switzer etched quad exhaust tips exiting the rear of the car give any indication that things in the engine compartment may not be original to Porsche's build sheet.
This particular example, owned by a Las Vegas resident speed-freak, is a 2007 vintage of Porsche's finest turbocharged toys, and this one has had a few tweaks. The list of modifications is as long as my arm, and includes some stimulating high-power upgrades.
The Switzer Flex-Fuel E911 Package found in this 997 Turbo includes all of the following:
- SPI muffler
- SPI exhaust headers
- SPI upgraded Garrett GT30R turbochargers
- Syvecs S8 Standalone ECU
- SPI Flex Fuel Kit
- SPI "monster" twin intercoolers
- SPI billet blow-off valves
- SPI custom high flow intake plumbing
- High-flow intake mini-filters
- Iridium performance spark plugs
- High-flow fuel injectors
- E85-spec fuel system upgrade
- Tilton Triple Carbon Clutch System
All these mods equate to a ground pounding 835 horsepower delivered to all four wheels. You'll notice that there was absolutely zero engine internal work done with the car, and the entirety of Switzer's upgrade package is "bolt-on" in nature. Several hours of honing work was done with this kit, and the ECU maps work like magic. Tuned into the mix is a boost-by-gear feature, in which the car operates in low gears with a limited boost pressure helping to avoid wheel spin in first and second. The pressure gradually increases to its peak in 5th and 6th gears.
The suspension was brand new and untested before last weekend, but it performed absolutely beautifully, launch after staggeringly quick launch. A finely tuned Bilstein PSS10 set up slightly softer in the rear, to help traction from a "dig", was installed by Trophy Performance. In addition to the Bilstein coils, the Porsche received camber plates, shock mounts, and a front sway bar from Tarret Engineering. ERP Suspension provided 935-style Chrome-Moly lower control arms, a bump-steer kit, and rear "Dog Bone" adjustable rear upper suspension links. Forged aluminum 1-piece BBS Fi wheels, wrapped in fresh Toyo R888 (235/35 R19 front and 305/30 R19 rear) tires. The whole package was extremely effective in a straight line, and while I didn't get much opportunity to test it in some twisty bits, I'm sure it would excel there as well.
Walking up to the car, the only indications that it is anything other than what Porsche intended are the TechArt lip and side skirts, the BBS Wheels, and the afore mentioned Swizter exhaust tips. Slotting into the driver's seat and firing it up, the car still doesn't belie its hidden potential. The starter engages easily and the engine fires quickly. A much stiffer pressure plate gives the clutch pedal a bit stiffer feel, but the engagement still feels pretty positive, and modulates well enough to be driven in traffic. Everything in the cabin still performs as expected; the 'infotainment' systems, the air conditioning, and the cruise control all continue their functions without flaw. When you pull the Porsche up to the start line, you are still in the 997 Turbo mindset. You know its going to be quick, but there is nothing in the world that can prepare you for this. Once your helmet is strapped on, and your seat belt has clicked in, you just forget about everything. The world goes quiet.
The first 100 feet feel pretty much the same as any Mezger-era 997 Turbo, perhaps one that has had a handful of hop-up parts added. In other words, it is impressive by most standards with 0-60 coming easily in less than 3.5 seconds. First gear in this car runs out quickly, just like any other Porsche turbo built in the last decade, but second gear is taller. With the boost metered in slightly heavier in second, that gear runs out equally quick, and then you gently slide the lever into third. Before you know it, you're soaring past the triple digit mark. This car is cartoonishly fast, it is video-game quick, and it is incomprehensibly rapid. As the ECU allows you more boost with every gear, all you want to do is slam home that next cog. Like an addict, you crave more and more intake pressure, more and more thrust. Each dip of the clutch brings a new opportunity to run through the insane jet fighter thrust of the rev-range. Above 150, things get even crazier, as the scenery rushes by at levels that your brain can barely comprehend. Things run slower when you're in control, but from the passenger seat, it's almost a frightening experience.
As we approach the half-mile mark in the Porsche, the speedometer is hardly keeping up. Zooming further along the speed spectrum, the little orange needle is reading north of 170. Just after the half-mile flag, we lift off of the throttle and gently ease onto the brake pedal. Even from nearly 200 miles an hour, the stock PCCB braking system is more than up to the task of slowing us to a crawl. Adrenalin is surging, blood is pumping, and my brain is quickly doing math to see if selling a kidney and half a liver might net me the funds to build one of these for myself. Boost is addictive, grip even more so, and speed, well, speed is that thing we all crave. This car has all of those things in spades. As the wise Mr. Ferris Beuller once said, "If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up." It really is "so choice!"
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Anthony would like to thank Trophy Performance, Toyo Tires, Bill Rader Motorsports, Tarret Engineering, Bilstein Shock Absorbers, E.R.P. Suspensions, The Specialists Detailing, Inside Out Detailing, Protect-Film, and his lovely girlfriend for their collective support throughout the process of building this car.
FLATSIXES.com would like to thank Switzer Performance for building so many levels of awesome, and for putting us in contact with Anthony to facilitate such an amazing weekend.