The Porsche 996 is a bargain for any trackday nut. As the normally-aspirated cars are going for as little as $10,000, there are innumerable reasons to go out, pick one up, stiffen the suspension, and enjoy a cut-price GT3. However, it’s base M96 motor doesn’t have the same zing and vigor of the GT3’s Mezger motor, which also finds its home in the back of the Turbo and GT2 variants, albeit with a set of snails to scurry them up the road a little quicker.
While the 996 Turbo is considerably heavier, less agile, and more of a long-distance cruiser than a track scalpel, it’s the next best bargain in the 911 family currently; examples can be found for as little as thirty large. Because it caters more to the banker or the dentist than the racing driver, it can’t quite match the GT lineup in terms of handling—but it does share the famed powerplant, and with a few tasteful modifications, gets closer to a GT2 than the standard Carrera can get to a GT3.
Critically, this Turbo had its front driveshafts and differential removed. Not only does that start a relatively long list of track-oriented tweaks, but it gives the car an incisiveness on-par with a GT2. As owner Kai notes, “Building a track friendly street car of the Turbo is unfortunately a bit more than coilovers and brakes, but the crazy thing is there’s so much potential within these cars on race tracks.” With some intelligent modification, this car becomes the “Poor Man’s GT2 RS.” Yes, I know—these terms are all relative, but it’s still a whole lot of oomph for the money.
That barking Mezger motor benefits from K24/18G turbos, 997 GT2RS intercoolers, 996 GT3 RS engine mounts, and Speedtech’s X-Flow 3.0″exhaust. With a tune, it makes 600 horsepower and roughly 590 lb-ft of torque. No wonder he’s shredded third gear several times and replaced the factory gearbox with a stronger one from a 997 Turbo.
To put that power down and sharpen the handling, Kai went all out with the footwork. KW Clubsport coilovers tuned to Manthey Racing spec, Pirelli Trofeo R 235/305 tires, 996 GT3 Cup lower control arms (front and rear), 997 RSR uniball rear toe links are some of the obvious bits. For a little more communication between himself, the car, and the tires, he employed Tarett Engineering adjustable caster bushings for lower control arms (front and rear), Tarett Engineering uniball ends for lower control arms (front and rear), and Elephant Racing uniball subframe bushings. As if that wasn’t already impressive, the cherry atop the sundae is a 996 GT3 Cup differential!
Traction, torque, and the 997 gearbox’s ratios mean frightening acceleration, and bigger brakes were in order. The stopping power, aided by the weight loss, comes down to 996 GT3 Cup front brake cooling ducts, 997 Turbo rear brake cooling ducts, Brembo GT big brakes, and either Brembo Race Technology or Performance Friction pads. Importantly, though less obviously, he disabled PSM as the intervention was preventing him from threshold braking—and even caused one minor incident.
Throughout this searing lap, Kai’s blessed with little traffic and snatches a 7:15 BTG lap with seemingly little effort—even after taking it slow in bumpy places like Fuchsröhre (2:30), as two laps before this one of his rear tires blew at that very corner. The car is consistently composed, rarely breaks away, and when it does—appears to give Kai all the feedback necessary to make an accurate catch.
As a testament to that incredible engine, Kai put 51,000 hard-driven miles, all with the modifications in place before ever considering a rebuild. Long live the Mezger engine!