Project 996 Turbo: German Muscle
Expensive Headache

I’ve had my 911 for a year and a half now, which of course means that I am long overdue for an update. Since my last story, the Porsche has been ‘lightly modified’ to my liking, I’ve broken it, and I’ve had quite a bit of time to enjoy it as well.

I’m going to be straight with you guys. Going into this project, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. According to the window sticker that came with my 2003 Porsche 911 Turbo X50, it had a MSRP of US$168,000 when new. Since then it’s obviously depreciated quite a bit, which is why I could afford it. However, all too often these days you see blog posts to the effect of: ‘Why get a Toyota Camry when you can get a Porsche 911 for the same price?’ It’s a valid question of course, but as I’m sure you guys know, just because something has the same initial price, doesn’t mean that’s all it’s going to end up costing you…


As I touched on a little in my first post, I had to fix three things right away. The transmission needed a rebuild, as basically every gear felt like it had enough play to be mistaken for neutral; the hydraulic clutch accumulator was bad, which made the clutch super hard to push; and then there was the computer yelling at me about the ABS not working due to a faulty left-front wheel speed sensor. Factoring in the purchase price of the 996, by this point I had gone way past Toyota Camry money.


Since then a few other things have decided to stop working too. It’s nothing against Porsche – they build an awesome car, and mine’s lasted 70,000 hard-driven miles. The ignition switch needed replacing and I’ve had a coolant hose crack, but that’s not been the worst of it.


Some were simply ‘wear and tear’ items that I had to replace quickly, like the brakes and the clutch, which were both upgraded as you’ll read shortly. I will also touch on pretty much everything else that I’ve done up until this point.

KW Suspension

I am a firm believer in getting handling dialed in before looking at any sort of power modifications, so I started out with a set of KW Clubsport coilovers. I am not as mechanically minded as others on the Speedhunters team, and while I’ve done a lot myself on my Z car, I know for a fact that I’d be in way over my head working on the 911 Turbo. So for suspension and pretty much everything else, I’ve taken the Porsche to BBI Autosport in Huntington Beach, California.


My goal with the KWs was not to make the ride stiffer than stock, but to improve the feel and handling, and of course the look. Because as much as I hate to admit it, when the car does not sit right the whole look is ruined. Of course, I don’t mean slammed to the ground either – this is still a sports car built for driving first and foremost.


Lucky for me, Formula Drift and rallycross champion Tanner Foust also had his 996 Turbo serviced at BBI. He recently got rid of his car, and in doing so sold off some of his parts – a set of springs included. Tanner also had Clubsports fitted, and when he brought his car to BBI he initially asked for the most comfortable setup possible without sacrificing handling, as it was going to be his daily driver. Long story short, BBI reused Tanner’s springs in my car.


What you see here are KW Clubsport coilovers with BBI’s M-track kit which widens the front by 20mm and the rear by 4mm. The kit also gets rid of all the rubber bushings and replaces them with heim joints. With this kit, the shock tops are stood up a bit, and from there to increase the camber they lengthen the lower control arms. In order to prevent wear and tear, spacers are added to the axle to compensate for the wider track.


For the rears, BBI just changed out the upper control arms, because the 4mm of adjustment was more than enough to get the wheels to sit perfectly. If I were running even wider rear wheels or had different offsets, then I would have to change out the lower rear control arms as well.


Also fitted was a rear toe link, which adds just another level of adjustability. With the widening of the front and rear tracks, the car sits perfectly without any sign of rubbing at full lock.


Everything in this kit made by BBI is designed to be much more rigid that stock, and it’s fully serviceable too. In a way, it’s better because you can replace individual components and wear items. On top of that you can adjust for bump-steer. When most cars are lowered the original geometry is ruined, but with the correct components you can bring it back to the way it was.


Altogether, what I’ve ended up with is BBI’s Street Cup Stage 3 package. From here the car was aligned and corner balanced for road and occasional track use.

BBI Autosport

While the 996 Turbo X50 is no slouch at all from the factory with 450hp to the crank, I wanted some extra oomph as well as that raspy flat-six Porsche sound that I’ve grown to love. I’ve heard so many exhausts for water-cooled 911s, and I just love the absolute rawness of the BBI Barcode system, which also weighs half as much as the factory equivalent. On top of that, it frees up around 35hp to the wheels on a stock car with no tune, and it helps boost kick in about 500rpm earlier.


Developed over four years with untold hours of research and flow testing, these exhausts are 100 per cent hand-built in Huntington Beach at the BBI facility.


The system makes just as much power as having a straight pipe, but it cuts noise by half thanks to something called Helmholtz resonance. The metal used in its construction is a combination of 304 and 321 stainless.


While the upgraded exhaust system gives the burnt mixture an easy exit from the engine, IPD supplied an intake plenum to get the air into the flat-six in a more efficient manner.


The plenum’s V-shape design helps with throttle response and reduces turbo lag, and dimples (think golf balls) are added to decrease drag – something proven by IPD in flow bench testing. The throttle body is also increased from a 68mm opening to 74mm, which drastically helps mid- to top-end power.


For reliability’s sake, BBI has produced its own underdrive pulley – the factory pulley being so heavy that it can loosen the nut and ruin the nose of the crank over time. The BBI pulley has 200 per cent more contact area with the snout of the crank versus stock, and of course it’s also smaller in diameter which prevents the power steering from boiling over – a big fire hazard on these cars.


In order to handle the additional power that the Porsche 3.6-liter Mezger engine was going to put out, I needed to switch to a twin-plate clutch anyways, so that was done in addition to GT3 Cup car brake pads and rotors.


While these engines are mostly bulletproof, I soon found out that there are some inherent flaws, the biggest being that epoxy is used to plumb the water lines in. After tens of thousands of miles of water pressure, vibration and heat, the epoxy loosens up and fails – usually at the worst time. For me, it was under full boost on the dyno, which meant the car had to go back to BBI to get its water lines repaired. At least it didn’t happen on the track, which is actually where I’ve witnessed it happening before.


I’ve heard of some mechanics pinning the stock ones back in by drilling a hole in them, while others try to weld the factory fittings in. The boys at BBI take it a step further. They make billet inserts that they weld in, and on top of that they ultrasonically clean and pressure test every single part before final assembly. With the age of the 996 and the 997, they are doing about two or three a month now. If you are building a car with one of these motors, I highly suggest you learn from my mistake and do this before it’s too late. It’s a safety thing for you and everyone around you – especially if you are going full-tilt on a track. After the motor is out it takes about three and a half hours to clean, prep and weld. The interesting thing is, Porsche figured out that it was a problem and attempted to fix it in the 997.2 3.8-liter unit by making the tolerances as tight as possible, but you eventually still have the same problem.


According to BBI, the hardware is the easy part – making it work together is where it gets hard. The only way to get the most out of a performance turbo engine is with a good ECU tune, so for that I took the car to COBB Tuning in Fountain Valley, California. COBB is synonymous with all things performance, from time attack, to drifting, to drag racing.


After a baseline run the car was making 370hp and 387ft-lb to the wheels in stock form, which is an 80hp loss through the drivetrain. That is crazy! Using the COBB Tuning Accessport, Mitch McKee and Jon Hebbeln, who are the head Porsche tuners at COBB, took full advantage of the IPD intake plenum, BBI Barcode exhaust, and under-drive pulley. This was all done on pump gas, so that way I never have to worry about being stuck without the correct fuel. With two bolt-on mods I gained 64hp and 117ft-lb over stock.


The data-logging capabilities of the COBB Tuning Accessport are awesome. You can change tuning maps on the fly depending on the fuel you are running and the conditions. In addition, it can read and clear error codes. If that is not enough, you can even email the tune files back and forth between tuners all across the world. BBI works exclusively with COBB for factory ECU tuning, and it was actually them that helped COBB get into the Porsche market in the first place.

Look Ma!

As I mentioned earlier, I just don’t hold a candle to some of other members of the Speedhunters team when it comes to building cars. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like to do a few things here and there on my own. I guess I would call myself a ‘weekend mechanic’, or ‘bolt-on master’? One of the things that bothered me the most about the interior was the upper center console. I am not super tall, but at 5’11 my knee always hit it, so I wanted to delete it and replace it with carpet like in the 996 GT3. Plus, the lower center console was considerably damaged from years of abuse from the previous owner, so I decided to replace that as well.


I started to remove bits and pieces of the interior, when I found a few interesting things. First of all was some loose change, which is good since it means I paid less for the car than I thought I did. Then I found something interesting in the center console: herbs? This kind of makes sense as I also found a Bob Marley disc in CD player and a bottle of vape juice in the glove compartment… I’m thinking the car needs an official Speedhunters name, like Project Yankee or Leroy the Civic. I have Ole Orange Bang already, so what do you guys think about Tommy Chong for the Porsche?


I threw away what I did not need and actually bought a brand new center console as the stock one had some very deep scratches in it.


It came in raw plastic form, which meant I had to dye it. I wanted to change it to black, as of course everything goes well with black, and I think it’s cleaned up the look of the interior considerably.


On top of that, I love that the dash is one-piece again, just like on the older 911s. Plus, I have so much more room for my right leg now.


While I can’t do my own engine-out service on this car, just doing the little things makes me happy. I’ve also changed the floor mats to black, which I think has also helped clean up the interior.


Since the dyno, I’ve put about 2000 miles on the car. I’ve been using it quite a bit as a camera car too, and for shooting stills as well as video. For example, I used it on the drive to Rennsport Reunion V, and I also put it through its paces at the Just Drift All Star Bash this year.


Since then the only thing that has broken was a bracket that holds in the shift linkage, which is a very easy fix. It was a scary experience though, because you just can’t get into any gear when it happens.


It’s pretty much the most powerful and stable camera car I could ever ask for, which of course is total overkill for what I need it for.


The next event I am planning on taking it to is Shift Sector Airstrip Attack, a standing 1/2-mile event held at Coalinga Airport in central California. Mike and I have actually covered the event before, so it will be interesting to drive in it for the first time.


After looking at my expenses for the year, I’ve spent more money on this car than I did on camera equipment, which of course is really hard to do considering I’m a full-time photographer. In fact, just fixing it up alone was the single largest expense for me in the last 18 months since I bought the car. Was it all worth it? Hell yes!


I am a car guy after all, and my love affair with cars got me to this point in the first place. While I am justifying it that way, it’s completely true. If I didn’t have this monster of a German muscle car, I would have something else. But seeing as Dino already has my dream car, and it’s pretty much going to take forever for the R34 to come into the States, I feel like this is the perfect German counterpart in every way shape and form.


So what’s next? I already bought and painted the ‘Aero package’ lip, so that is going on the car soon. After that? The sky’s the limit. That is the cool thing about having a 996 Turbo, there is so much to modify, and there’s an endless amount of things that I could tinker with. Upgraded turbos, intercoolers, radiators, maybe some bucket seats or bigger brakes. The list goes on, and the fun has just begun.

Next up I plan on doing a Dream Drive as well as shooting a video for you guys so you can hear how it sounds and see how it moves.

Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto



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"Have you ever driven a 996?  Have you ever driven a 996 on weeeeeeeed?" -Jon Stewart
Can't wait to see the FJ!


Driftfotos this guy would love a ride along please U0001f604


thetram you can drive it fool.




Driftfotos nah man, it's your Porsche .. too scared. I'll take a ride, we go do hood rat things.


Funny thing to fixate on, but those brass barb fittings are a strange choice for something geared toward a high-end market, especially cheap brass multi-barb fittings that are so ridiculously long.
Aluminum single-barb fittings are shorter, lighter, come in nice anodized colors, and are barely more expensive.  They look somewhat like smaller versions of your single-barb water hose fittings,  Match those to some inexpensive stainless screw-type pinch clamps instead of worm-drive clamps, or better yet some Oetiker clamps (if frequent servicing isn't necessary) and you have a functional and elegant manifold assembly.  I just don't like worm-drive clamps for small hoses, both for function and appearance.  For only $20-25 more than brass and worm-drive (for the entire manifold) you can have fittings and clamps that really fit the detail level of the rest of the engine.

And yes, amazing car.  So nice, so very nice.  Good choice on the KW Clubsports, they are a very nicely designed piece.


the car looks incredible! the wheels have grown on me since the initial story and look great! even better is the new found stance with the KWs. also, the interior is absolutely perfect, love the center console delete and the change to black color. great idea!


The center console turned out awesome. A vid of the engine sound would have been cool, I bet it sounds sweet!


The One Otaku Video coming soon! My neighbors hate it, but I love it.


Glad to read your update Larry, and good for you with doing whatever you can yourself with the car...


Some typical maintenance for any old car.
Some not so much. You bought a beat example.
Hope you did your water pump while you were in there.


thetram Driftfotos can I fart in it




linhbergh thetram Driftfotos Yes.


Damn Larry, this thing is awesome!


Speedhunters My pickle titillates at your IMS bearings


Awsemo choice of car and tweaks made to it!


My favourite shape of modern porsche, good job on the interior it looks miles better in 1 piece for the dash and black always looks good!


Nicely done, love the centre console mod. Looks superb.


Awesome work Larry Chen the car looks really really good man! Enjoy it :) BTW the centre console mod looks +1,000,000 way better than before


I was wondering about your Porsche. Very nice. It was very expensive? Would you advice me to buy a Boxster? (Not insted of a 911....)


Great work Larry!  I think the dash delete was a great idea.  Honestly there's not much else that really needs to be done IMO, other than some nice aftermarket bucket seats (and perhaps a bit more black trim dye in the interior) and maybe masking over the egg-sides of the headlights :)


greenroadster I'd say save up extra for a 911. You will forget you even considered a Boxster.


linhbergh thetram KeithCharvonia eww


Good work so far Larry, glad you're enjoying it :) Blackening the center and adding the carpet was a nice touch but that daub-gray interior just kills me. It's honestly the only think I'm not a fan of on the car, to the point of changing the interior would have been done before anything else lol. For a 6-digit car, that's a 4-digit interior. Can't wait until "Bride XXXX/new interior panels" in hour next post! (hint, hint)


D1RGE EXE I can take a hint.... haha. Thanks for the input. What's next a Nardi steering wheel? oh wait...


I can't believe they charged $168,000 for that in 2003. Such better cars for the money (No offence Larry).


LukeEVOVIII None taken. You think that is bad? Look at how much a full optioned out turbo S comes out to now! It's 50 grand more than the 996, which I guess makes sense in terms of a premium car.


LukeEVOVIII You always pay for the name. If Nissan had offered the R34 GT-R worldwide, it might have cost 75k bucks less or something like that than the Turbo S


JPRedhead LukeEVOVIII One can only dream. It's all Dino's fault.


Haha U0001f601 This may seem surprising but I've never actually been a major fan of the Skyline GT-R series


Larry Chen greenroadster Even if we speak about the 987 Boxster (not the 986) vs 996 911? I mean newer generation Boxster than the 911. The problem is that in my country cars with engines bigger than 3000 cc are a pain in...the wallet (taxes). The Boxster would save me a lot with his 2.7L engine. It really is that a big difference?


Amazed at how much changing the centre console to black and removing the bit of trim freshens up the interior!


Should get the red tail light garnish center piece! improves the booty by at least 1,000,000 percent!


linhbergh bump


Hey speedhunter, when do we se the overfenders and gt wing. Sarcasm, i promise. Good thing you know a photographer to take amazing pics. Its looking great.


Awesome awesome awesome post. I love these detailed project car posts. Reading them is like watching someone's dream come true


very lovely sir, very lovely


Looking awesome man! Great to see it coming together for you.

turbo BEAMS ae86

nice men
good change  on console


Bravo Larry, great updates!




Lower + wider = more awesomer


Excellent write up =)


Larry Chen D1RGE EXE Prob already got it lol :) Hope you're going to FDLB this year, would like to meet you again!


Curious what all mentioned in the article would cost for a regular joe at decent performance shop?


Loved every bit of the write-up! We all share them feels. I just replaced the flywheel and clutch in my 2008 350Z but I still have transmission issues - struggling to hold the gear under 1500 RPM so I have to clutch in and slip it back in or shift down. I got around to replacing the twin intake system with a Nismo setup and now I have idling issues. Eventually I'll fix it on another weekend. I guess it's our passion that keeps us going! Thanks for sharing.


I too love these kind of articles. I personally can't afford a 911, but reading this is makes it easier. We get to learn more about the car, its positives and negatives and whats its like to live with one, thank you.
IMO, the car is coming together beautifully. Subtle changes, tastefully executed. All in keeping with the quality of the car.
I won't make any suggestions as to what to do next, as it is your car. Besides, your doing an amazing job so far.
Looking forward to the videos and hearing this machine!


@R26B Thanks for the support. While I definitely appreciate wilder builds and I love to shoot them all year long, for my personal car I like things a bit more subtle.


cooki_monsta Oh man, I hope you get these things sorted out. That is why I have a cheapo daily driver just in case.


desertspeed All performance shops charge different rates. From what I have seen it can range from 90-150 usd an hour. Although, I would suggest to modify based on your budget.


@canimuff I love the 4S garnish, but it would definitely change the look of the rear end drastically.


NorthCoaster Right? I first saw it on my buddies 996 GT3 and I was amazed at how it looked. I knew right away that I would have to convert it.


What a great updated read Larry for this calm and relaxing Sunday.  Thank you bud.  Looking forward to more updates!


996 Turbo is definitely the only 911 Turbo I can afford right now. I'm curious in general about maintenance costs, in particular 30k interval services. Yours definitely looks the part with the wheel choice. I look forward to seeing more articles on it.


says..... "It’s nothing against Porsche"...... then proceeds to tell you all the things Porsche got wrong!

I certainly appreciate the honesty - but man - I've seen a few of these hover very close to my price range

....... and now you've put me off............ still love them, but I just couldn't do it and financially survive what you went through

I guess it's the Cayman life for me (further research still pending)


desertspeed I got a reply from BBI

"The 30,000 service on the 996 Turbo is considered to be a major service because it includes replacing spark plugs in addition to fluid changes and inspections. Most shops will charge 6-7 hours. The retail costs for parts and labor will be slightly under $1,400."


@Larry Chen Thanks for checking, very kind of you. That doesn't seem to bad actually. I was definitely expecting more. Huntington Beach is a nice drive from Vegas if manage to find one I can afford :)


greenroadster Larry Chen I'd say go for the Boxster. It is a really underrated car. The steering is just fantastic and it makes all the right noises. If you want status go for the 911, but if you want driving pleasure get the Boxster.


Funny, how deleting the center console gives a very different look to the interior... for the better !
I think I've never seen a "civilian" 996 without the center console before...


PauloRebordao Yeah, It makes you wonder what they were thinking?


Your car is fire Larry! Great article.. Thanks for giving me the heads up about it!

I want to drive this! Let's trade ;)


desertspeed Factor in $3,000-$5,000 for the 1st couple of years of ownership to get everything dialed in correctly.

If you are considering buying a 996TT - look for a vehicle that has already had many of these issues fixed by the previous owner, it will save you a lot of money and peace of mind knowing it's been done already.. My car already had the cooling pipes pinned and welded - this was a big factor in my decision.


Thanks for the info. I ruled out one in AZ because there were unknowns on the service history. I'm aiming to buy from an enthusiast to increase the chances of stuff like you mentioned already being done.


perfect name for your car hahaha


What a sweet project! The center console color change was a nice touch. I love the wheel option! It fit the car lines perfectly IMHO.

Now, I´m not fan of the steering wheel nor the seats. But that is me.



good car for the race and I'm sure very fast


the car was very good 
really really like to see the car that shiny new car fits like made ​​for walking trailsthe car was very good" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> and very fast" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> mix of colors" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> from which to" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> make want pobud see hatnya" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> kecepatanya" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> was very nice ," rel="dofollow" target="_blank">  suitable for a "" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> sharp bend or not sharp I guess motorists like this is" very skilled in the speed I hope I can membilinya someday will whether there are new cars are better I" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> 'll wait for it , with a stylish car classic" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> style I" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> also like" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> to see would be whether there is a" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> car that is as fast and forius like in the " movie , the car very good car designed a way apparently hopefully there will be new cars more good and the price is quite pantastis then chances are I can membilinya the same as you have at this time


Nice ride Larry...I just purchased a 996tt last year also...and it feels great to be able to own my dream car in college. 
Btw, what did you end up doing with the bad clutch accumulator? Did you go for the bbi clutch slave cylinder setup?


Any Updates? 
I'm in the market for one so I'm writing down everything! hahah
See you again at Gridlife?