Let me begin with an admission: I’ve slept on this story for way too long. Like one of those deep, dribble-on-your-pillow sort of sleeps.
Since travelling to Japan and meeting Takayuki Mizumoto and his wild Porsche 987, I’ve sold my own Cayman track car and moved on to BMW pastures. I’ve completed that subsequent project and I’m embarking on another. That should give you an idea of the timescale.
What’s surprising about this, though, is that in this expansive gulf of time, no one has even come remotely close to matching Mizumoto-san and his M’s Machine Works Cayman.
This build still stands head and shoulders above almost every modified Porsche on earth in terms of focus and execution. It’s like a factory Porsche skunkworks project, if the Porsche engineers were allowed to take a Cayman this far.
Better still, it’s totally road legal, so you can take it out as you please. But the best thing is that I got to ride in it.
As a 987 owner at the time, inspiration for track cars was often few and far between. Sure, people added lips and wings and played about at building track cars, and there were a few ‘Cup’ racers, but there was a distinct lack of grassroots lunacy.
Maybe it’s the high cost of engine failure that meant experimentation was and still is rare, but people generally chose to stick to simple modifications in order to enhance the car rather than revolutionise the driving experience. Imagine that environment, and then imagine stumbling across this Japanese GT500-inspired monster.
Mizumoto-san took the baby Porsche coupe and turned the dial up all the way past 10, 11 and ripped it off at 13. Seeing this car in pixel form is one thing, but to hear, smell and experience it in person is quite another.
Entering M’s Machine Works is like stepping into a treasure trove of motorsport engineering. It’s a distinctly busy ‘Japanese’ sort of workshop, bustling with artifacts from a lifetime of racing. Cars are packed neatly but tidily into the space, and every nook and cranny is utilised to the fullest.
But there was one area that caught my eye – a cabinet full to the brim of very expensive looking rod ends and finely machined items. This pointed towards to a more serious use for the space.
You see, Mizumoto-san spends his days designing and manufacturing chassis parts for some of the most competitive GT500 cars, and this insane Cayman is ‘just’ his after-hours passion project.
As soon as you learn of the Super GT connection, the whole thing makes perfect sense: Every inch is executed to an incredibly high preparation level and is 100% a thoroughbred race car. Except for the number plates. This car can be driven legally on the road.
As Takayuki fires up the 997 Cup engine to move it outside, the sharp bark of the engine echoes around the building. He’s taken the heart of a Carrera Cup 997 and transplanted it into the Cayman along with a MoTeC M800 brain. The result is a factory-perfect 450bhp that starts and idles in a strangely docile manner.
It barely takes any throttle to manoeuvre the car out of the workshop, despite an aggressive Ogura twin metal disc clutch. Once outside we get to hear the hit of the whole fruit. As soon as the multiple throttle bodies are cracked open, a smile comes over everyone’s face in earshot. That might have actually been for several miles around because this car has big, unsilenced lungs.
Climbing inside is strangely familiar. Because the 987 has such a small cockpit, the addition of a weld-in roll cage is not that intrusive. The most striking thing is actually the new firewall separating the engine from the cabin and the two bucket seats.
Strapping yourself in means all the transmission and engine vibrations go through your body, heightening the experience. At your feet is one of the air jacks that allow Mizumoto-san to step the side skirts out in order to channel air under the car while still having easy servicing access.
While on the subject of aero, we still haven’t mentioned that wing. It is absolutely gargantuan. Plucked straight from the GT500 race car catalogue, it features knife-edged uprights that mount directly to the chassis. Looking back from the passenger seat it looks more fighter jet than road car.
I remember Takayuki shouting “Do you like it,” while grinning from the driver’s seat. I’m sure I said something absolutely incomprehensibly excited back. This is the absolute pinnacle of Porsche 987 Cayman, and we were about to turn the forged mag Advan wheels for a spin. Of course I liked it.
Now remember we were on public roads and were already bending the rules a little with doors wide open on a minivan to get the tracking shots, but it felt like the most exciting 50km/h shoot ever. The sound of the Cup engine sat just behind your head, framed in a Perspex box, is like nothing else I’ve experienced. Ordinarily you’d be wearing a helmet and ear protection in a car as loud as this, but this is on the road, meaning my naked ears were exposed to the full madness of the motor. I thought my 987 sounded cool, but this was end-level boss, god-like status.
Three short whips around the block were enough to absolutely obliterate my senses. The car now parked up on the street, we pored over all the little details on the car. It was so highly developed, each new pass around the bodywork revealing a new detail.
It’s at this point I realised that everything on this car was crafted by Takayuki Mizumoto himself. From selecting the right parts in the Porsche Motorsport catalogue, to sculpting the bodywork moulds by hand, laying the fibreglass, and carbon or engineering the chassis. It is all a result of his engineering skill and passion to go fast.
And go fast it does; at the time of our visit the car was lapping Tsukuba Circuit in a frankly obscene 58.070 seconds.
This isn’t the end of this Cayman story, though. Mizumoto-san has been busy in M’s Machine Works finessing the recipe. Well, if you can call the addition of two turbos finesse.
The new generation of M’s Cayman is even more extreme, wider and more powerful. This surely will cement Takayuki Mizumoto as the greatest Cayman creator for many years to come. That is, unless this story inspires you to take a shot at the crown…
If you’re up for the challenge you had better be quick. Mizumoto-san explains: “A switch to wider slick tyres [Hoosier] increasing the track width requires a new bumper and fender design. These I will make myself. Rear suspension is now in-bound with pick-up points changed, work completed by APR Racing [a Super GT constructor].”