I thought I’d start a build tread of my 987 S project track car as I’m on a 17 hour flight from hell and need to kill some time and might as well make use of the free wi-fi. My other reason for uploading this build thread is to maybe help a new Cayman owner who is thinking of blowing (investing) thousands into a track project.
I’ve read so many detailed build stories and found them so helpful with my project, probably saving me ££££ and alerting me to all the issues and gimmicks to watch out for. So I think I should return the favour with this one as its fair to say it hasn’t been easy and I could tell some people put real effort into their build threads.
Chapter 1 Porsche day: I bought a completely stock 06 987 S from my local garage, so local in fact I live opposite the garage and drove passed it everyday on the way to work and it always caught my eye. I part exchanged my Megane RS250 coughed up some cash and voila… became a 24 year old Porsche owner.
My goal for this car was to be an all out track car, a kind of 987 GT3/4 partly inspired by the Cayman Interseries GTB1 cars raced in the US. So after researching how to start I did the usual reading and straight away went about protecting that troublesome (time bomb) of an engine with a Porsche motorsport baffled oil sump to stop any major oil starvation, a known problem for the 3.4 987.
Chapter 2 Brakes: Next wanted to improve that horrible stock brake feel and spoke to Ryan Stewart (Blue Bilstein Cayman), who showed me all the work he did to his Cayman. This was very helpful so I installed the 997 GT3 brake master cylinder and GT3/GT2 brake cooling ducts. A pretty cheap and easy mod that makes a big difference.
First major problem: An eroded left brake calliper that spewed brake fluid out of the bleed nipple and needed replacing. With a lead time of 4 months for a new one and £550+ we proceeded to drill out the eroded side, make a new thread and bleed nipple. It took months but works fine and saved a few quid.
Chapter 3 Exhaust: A few track days in and I’m loving the car and start going for a new exhaust and made a big mistake. I wanted to remove the massive secondary cats and went for a cheap exhaust as it sounded good, looked good and I read a few good reviews. Apparently not, it is way too loud, 104db (black flagged everywhere), boomy and wasn’t even installed correctly. I won’t name the garage, but with their large social media following and reputation it was a big disappointment. Now the exhaust needs these ugly baffles in order to pass the noise test. It will be replaced soon.
Chapter 4 Aero (ish): Next was aero, strange decision and in hindsight probably should have done everything else first. So I got a GT4 rear wing and lower front lip to improve the looks and add downforce. It caused a noticeable difference on the track and needed some additional Joe Toth canards to stop it going light at the front at highs speeds. On the roads you can’t ever feel it, but at Castle Combe you can as the first corner is flat approaching 130mph.
Chapter 5 Power: IPD throttle body and GT3 plenum, a must have for improving throttle response and adding around 15bhp. That with the exhaust and then an ECU remap/air filter from Parr Motorsport completely changed the throttle characteristics. Revving much faster from 4.5k, keeping the engine always on the sports cam on track and making heel and toe much nicer, it also sounds a bit angrier.
Chapter 6 Bucket Seats: The car was now pretty dam quick and the stock seats were no longer supportive. I wanted to use more Porsche GT parts and bought 997 GT3 RS fixed carbon alcantara buckets seats. Yep, these are the dogs Testicals, only 8KG each and weighing less than 1 stock seat. To go with the seats I got some Sabelt racing harnesses and the RSS harness bar. (Tip) any larger gentlemen or ladies thinking of these seats, beware they are snug, very snug. I’m short with a 30” waist and they are tight on me so…
Chapter 7 Steering Wheel: I hate the stock Cayman wheel, I find it way too thin and not ideal for the track, so again went searching for Porsche GT options and wanted the Momo Cayman GT4 Clubsport one, but couldn’t get the exact one so got this one that’s near identical in size. It also has a horn so is road legal.
Chapter 8 Vanity: I installed another official Porsche part, the 911 GT3 front smile grill. Why? Well because I like the look of it, it fits and importantly by cutting a small hole in the front bumper it actually lets out high-pressure air. I did this with the aim of reducing any front lift caused by the big GT4 wing, but cutting up your pride an joy Porsche wasn’t easy and its fair to say – I cocked up. It isn’t high enough on the bumper an annoys me every time I see it.
Martini Wrap: I wanted to make the car look a bit like one of my favourite race cars of all time. A 1970s Porsche 911 RSR with Martini livery. It was quite helpful that Porsche also reintroduced the livery again on the new 911 GT3RS, so I gave the design to Edd at Wrap UK and he created it. He also wrapped the rear wing and front splitter to perfectly match the artic silver paint
Chapter 9: Wheels and tyres: BBS split rims were out of budget so I went with Team Dynamics 18” Pro Race. Why? If its good enough for the BTCC… also I like the look, they’re supposed to be light weight and strong. They were much heavier than advertised on their website which was somewhat misleading. Wrapped in Toyo R888s, 245 front 275 rears. They’re amazing tyres, so much grip and as the picture shows way too much grip for the stock suspension to handle. Also only a Muppet would use R888s on stock suspension with no negative camber.
Chapter 10, 11, 12 Suspension: You may think why haven’t you done the suspension yet? Well this was the most expensive and important modification and I really gave it some thought. So I did more research some serious saving and spoke to Bilstein and KW and other Cayman owners to look at the pros and cons. I had narrowed down Bilstein PSS9 or KW Variant 3s maybe Clubsports, wallet depending.
Bilstein were no help at all, they gave no advice on which version is best for the Cayman, what the pros and cons were, where to go for installation or anything.
KW on the other hand were great, spent a good 45 mins talking through my tyre setup, wheel size, which tracks I go to, what the cars current ride height was, how confident I felt with the car, what else in the suspension I was going to change and how much camber I intended to use.
So I took a deep breath and went with KW Clubsports, Porsche 911 (996) Cup car adjustable lower control arms, H&R 997 GT3 RS anti-roll bars and new toe links. This would give me fully adjustable camber, anti-roll, geometry as well as ride height and damping etc… (TIP) The rear 987 control arms are adjustable and can in theory give 3 degrees of camber so you don’t need to replace them and could save £££.
For the winter build I planned to do all the suspension installation with my dad in his garage. This was quite difficult without a lift system and it was essential that we did the work ourselves as we found a whole range of serious problems.
First problem: the front anti-roll bar bushing was destroyed, no biggie.
Second problem: getting the old suspension off. The front, not so bad, the rear, big problem. The left rear control arm joint had seized inside the wheel hub. When I mean seized I really mean seized. So had to cut the control arm off and lost an entire wheel hub, wheel bearing, left drive shaft and even the handbrake cable! This was not cheap and took around 6 weeks to arrive from the US. Luckily Porsche being Porsche once you know the part number you can find the same parts on the 997 and 987 cars so lots of available parts.
Third problem: Spacers for the new front control arm, if you put the GT3 cup car motorsport control arms on the Cayman they fit perfectly, but require spacer nuts for the toe arm.
Fourth problem: wheel clearance, the wider track wheels hit the suspension so required large spacers. This meant the rears were going to now rub the wheel arches.
Fifth problem: The car wouldn’t start properly; we disconnected the battery over the winter for obvious reasons and it was showing engine warning lights, a lot of smoke and spluttering.
Fixing the car: So the car now needed geometry, alignment and a proper track set up by the guys a Parr Motorsport. So I drove the car with our homemade alignment to Parr and is stared snowing, this was absolutely terrifying. I can’t give Parr any higher praise; they really know everything Porsche and had build a Cayman with exactly the same suspension, wheels and tyres as mine before so they did a modest track setup. Partly because of a very steep driveway at home and didn’t want to rip the front splitter off and because this was the first time driving the car in months with completely different suspension and I didn’t wan to dive in headfirst and bin it. They also fixed the engine, it was a broken solanoid senor that was causing a misfire on the left bank.
If you’re still reading this then bravo you’re committed! Apologies if it’s rambling on, I still have 14 hours of my flight left and have turned to the Johnnie Walker to help pass the time. Got to love EVA Air, serving the good stuff!
Chapter 13 Test day: I was so inpatient to drive the car again I booked a track day at Brands Hatch and it was -1C. So cold and icy it would be impossible to actually test the suspension and would be a waste of a day. I was half right. I did a sighting lap and thought this feels dangerous, so let my old man take the wheel and go out first. He used to race cars and grew up near Brands so he’s probably the faster driver. He spun on the first lap and tore the splitter clean off and sent us spinning into the grass.
The problem became obvious, the rear H&R anti-roll bar was so stiff the car simply wouldn’t transfer its weight, couldn’t get any power down and was so twitchy and unstable. Imagine the disappointment, months or hard work, a lot of money spent and a slightly damaged undriveable car. We were suspicious that the rear anti-roll bar was too stiff from the start and we were correct.
So a dilemma, what now? New anti-roll bar from Tarrot or use the old one. Well the old one was there and free so gave that ago at Brands hatch again. Perfect! Completely different, still a cold day, but the car felt amazing and much quicker than it was before even when I drove it on the same tyres in the summer.
Chapter 14 Suspension set up fiddling: This is now where things are getting fun and fast. The KW Clubsports were still on the softest setting (still bloody stiff, not for the street) and felt great, absolutely zero understeer. The Cayman is naturally setup to understeer, mainly for daily drivability, safety and so it was never going to be faster than the 911. So with a mid engine balance, pretty big front and rear camber and a slight ride height rake angle with stiffer front anti-roll, the end result – Zero understeer. This is Parrs own setup and is a result of years of Porsche Cup Car Championship experience and building cayman race/track cars. Even in the winter with temperatures at 5C the car is comfortably around 3 seconds a lap faster than before around Brands hatches Indy, which is the shortest track in the UK.
Chapter 15 Braking Again: Well it is the most important part of a track car. To compliment the new suspension I splashed out of PFC brake pads. They’re insanely expensive, but amazing. I used EBC race brake pads before and they were shite, one set lasted just one track day at Castle Combe, is that eligible for a refund? After the day at Brands Hatch I felt the brake pedal go long at the end of the pit straight. This was a bottom clenching experience to say the least. The reason was boiled brake fluid, although the GT3 brake master cylinder helps with brake fade and the larger GT3 brake cooling ducts help cool the brakes, the fluid was normal Mobil 1 not motorsport high temp race fluid. So I ordered some Motul high temperature fluid that has a boiling point of 300+C.
Chapter something: The new Cayman R front spoilers have arrived and look great and much better than the aftermarket splitter I previously had that wasn’t driveway or curb friendly. So now the car is a cocktail of Cayman R, Cayman GT4, 911 GT3RS and 996 GT3 Cup Car parts.
What is next? 911 GT3RS short shift is on order to replace that horrible long throw of the stock 987. If money was no option I would get the CAE short shift, but I heard that you should really upgrade to a lighter single mass flywheel and new clutch when making this change.
Last week my daily Jaguar got written off thanks to the bonnet flipping up and smashing the windscreen and leaving me driving blind on the M27 into a layby. I probably will need to prioritise getting some boring replacement for my daily wheels. On a serious note a pothole in the outside lane of the M27 should not be so big it causes the bonnet latch to fail, puncture a tyre and nearly cause a fatal accident. Anyone from around Portsmouth, Emsworth or Chichester will know the road I mean. There is a hero lorry driver out there that saw me driving blind trying to see under the gap of the up turned bonnet and braked to let me in the lay by. (Rant over)
So build not complete yet, maybe it never will be. But I think I’ve got a lot done in just a year and a bit, so I’m probably going to pace myself for the next year, although roll cage and new exhaust are calling. This car probably isn’t to everybody’s taste; in fact
I know a lot of Porsche purists (snobs) will hate it, but I couldn’t care less. Recently drove passed a bloke in a beautiful black 964 and saw him shaking his head with disgust. Still didn’t wipe the smile off my face!
If you have read all of this then cheers, any Cayman questions or advice please chip in.
Now to test the quality of this EVA Air wi-fi and upload this mother. Still got another 11 hours flight so probably going to sink a few more Johnnie Walkers.