Part of the PorschePurist Team is out west test driving a Porsche Boxster S along the Pacific Coast Highway. While we're out goofing off, frequent contributor Andrew Granieri was gracious enough to provide a few guest posts for your reading pleasure. Enjoy and we'll have pictures and updates on the Boxster upon our return.
My father, in the pursuit of automotive excellence, purchased a Porsche 997 C4S a couple of years ago. It is his
first wine and cheese flagship Porsche, and he loves it. I myself find the car to be enthralling and amazing to drive, though this may not say much coming from any twenty-three year old male on account of the tendency for most in that category are naturally drawn to anything with more than 300 horsepower that weighs less than 3,500 pounds; I’ll focus on some of its other points, instead. The taut steering, the exceptionally responsive brakes, the positions of the pedals – the car has it all – or does it?
I’m not one to embody the saying, “If it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it,” especially with something like a car. In my 944, for instance, I took the already nimble steering and swapped in some beefy turbo sway bars and custom drop links. I found out that this might be a genetic trait, as my dad ordered a set of Weltmeister’s carbon fiber strut braces for his 997. With Father’s Day right around the corner, I took it upon myself to be a good son and install the front strut brace for him as an early Father’s Day gift; he has elected to refrain from installing the rear strut brace, as that will (as far as we can tell) involve ripping through and/or removing much of the stock interior in the back.
So, first thing’s first; open wide, little buddy:
You’ll notice that under the hood, these 911s have a lot of lightweight plastic held in place by Velcro and twist pins. Diehards, don’t choke on your ’63 Cab Sav while looking over the next few photographs – believe it or not, these cars CAN be taken apart and put back together by folks who aren’t employed at a Porsche dealership – and don’t berate me and tell me that you’d never drink the ’63 Cab Sav because it’s not as rich and flavorful as the ’72 – I can’t afford to be knowledgeable about wine! I digress… [Editor's note: Once again I feel I must apologize for Andrew. His jealousy toward 911 owners continues to shine through. 🙂]
The first thing you’ll want to do is access the strut towers. To do so, we need to get rid of this plastic. Unscrew the twist pins on the center battery access panel – it’s the piece of plastic with the “PORSCHE” script. In the photograph below, I’m unscrewing the twist pin on the left.
Once that’s done, the center panel will lift out; it has three hinges that are towards the rear of the car. Next, you’ll need to remove the driver and passenger sidepieces that were on either side of the battery panel. The photograph above shows the passenger’s side panel, and you may notice that there’s a plastic rain guard that runs overtop of the panel. You guessed it, that guard as to go! The rain guards are held in place with Velcro and fit closely to the sheet metal underneath them. They also run close to the hood struts, too, so you need to be a little careful working around there. Once they are clear from the hood struts, a gentle tug will free them from the Velcro patches.
Once you peel back the rain guards far enough, you’ll find that they will fold over the front weather strip and over top of the hood release mechanism. You needn’t physically remove them from the car. You should now be able to remove the panels on the driver and passenger side with little trouble; they wrap around the hood shocks as well, so be careful there. I found myself knocking into the rain guards walking around the car, so I placed them loosely back into position.
If you’re following along at home, you should see something like this:
The strut towers are located on either side of the vehicle. I’ve drawn two crude-but-effective arrows, red in color, to make them stand out. Using a 13mm socket set, remove two of the three silver-colored washer/bolts. The front most bolt on each strut tower will not be used, so do not unbolt them! See Pictures below if you’re still confused.
I’m about ready to install the braces for the bar, but I want to make sure they won’t fall apart when I go hooning in my dad’s sweet car my dad takes this thing out for a Sunday drive, so safety first! Using a 4mm allen wrench, tighten the bolts keeping the two pieces of each brace together. Now, we’re ready to install the thing!
I’m going to give an overview regarding what I did next to give my steps some context. First, I attached the passenger side brace to the passenger-side strut tower. Then, I attached the carbon fiber bar to the driver’s side brace and adjusted the bar’s length so it would be a perfect fit before finishing up. Here’s a shot of the passenger-side brace, attached to the body (note the orientation and the bolts used, if you were confused earlier this should clear things up):
Keep in mind, these bolts are slightly loose so I can adjust and wiggle the bar into place on the other side; the bar itself is going to run directly behind your battery and it’ll be a snug fit, but it will clear.
My father, who was either overwhelmed with joy at the prospects of better performance or scared out of his mind that I’d ruin something, came out to help me finish the job! Below is a shot of him setting the driver’s side brace in place with the bar attached:
Perhaps I should explain something else; the bar has an eyepiece on either end that fits around each brace. The eyepieces screw into the carbon fiber bar on the same thread pattern: in other words, the conventional “lefty loosie, righty tighty” mantra for your typical nuts, bolts, screws, etc. will not apply to one of the eyepieces; this is so the bar can be adjusted after it is installed, so if one of the eyepiece bolts isn’t staying connected to the bar and you’re turning it clockwise, try going the other direction.
Okay, now that I’ve carefully adjusted the two bolts on the carbon fiber bar, they seem to line up perfectly with the braces. First, I’m going to tighten the four bolts connecting each brace to the strut towers. For the obsessive compulsive, use a torque wrench and tighten them down to about 35 ft. pounds. For everyone else, tighten each bolt to what feels like 30 pounds to you.
Since I didn’t have the torque spec sheets for this car handy, I loosened the third bolt (you remember, the ones I told you NEVER to touch? Well, I changed my mind, you can mess with them if you’re trying this) on one strut tower a quarter turn and then tightened it back. I was able to tighten the other two bolts by feeling their resistance relative to the third bolt. If you don’t have faith in your tactile memory I’ll recommend against this, though, and suggest sticking with the torque wrench.
Okay, back on track. I’m going to secure the bar to the braces by threading the large bolt through the eyepiece and brace on either side and securing it with the supplied nuts. This bolt is tightened with a 8mm allen wrench. You should have something like these:
Here’s the passenger’s side brace…
…And here’s the driver’s side brace.
With both braces secured to the car, and the bar secured to both braces, I’d say we’re about done!
Oh, I can feel it coming already. I hear you, naysaying purists. “But Andrew!” you say, “All the messy electronic stuff that I’m not familiar with – it’s showing! And if I’m ever caught in the rain, the battery could get WET!” Calm down, people. Breathe, see, and believe:
That’s right – every OEM plastic cover piece we removed today will fit back into position, no problem! With Weltmeister, everyone wins – the performance-minded enthusiasts get a great performance tweak to the 997’s handling, and the image-oriented crowd gets a car that still looks bone stock.
Time constraints prevented me from taking the car out for a spin to feel the difference, but I imagine it accentuates the steering character of the car considerably – though I might not feel it on the street, being too afraid to take the car to its limits on public roads, I may not appreciate this until we get this car to a proper road course.
Should my father ever wish to rip out half of the car’s rear carpet, I will be more than happy to do a follow-up article regarding installation of the rear strut brace. Until then, drive safely, and drive your car the way it was meant to be driven!
Today's post is compliments of frequent contributor Andrew Granieri. Andrew is a graduate from Miami University with a degree in Technical & Scientific Communications and a minor in Entrepreneurship. He has a strong passion for cars and is working hard as a private contractor and freelance writer so he can continue to support his (pseudo) extravagant enthusiast lifestyle. He currently drives a worn but strong 1986 Porsche 944 that his future wife has come to appreciate and adore.