Yes Dear, I Really Do Need This Car
By Les Bidrawn
Like most web users, I follow a predictable online routine. I start off with CNN to make sure the world’s not exploding and then double-check BBC to make sure. I check email, answer a few and then go to TheOnion, Wired and MotherBoard. Late at night, I go to my “special sites” and start oogling. Normal males use Pornhub…I prefer CarGurus, CarsForSale and AutoTrader (the printed version). This works for me. It scratches the wayward itches I get at least 40 times each day. I wasn’t looking for another car to own, I simply needed a photogenic older Porsche for a tire client. I knew Nik from VFE had one and it’s a mere 10-minute drive from the house. I’d need it for a day or two but because VFE’s shop was fairly packed, it would be better if I kept it for a week. Gracious? You bet. My only concern was where this 911 would sleep at night.
This black 997 C4S is fairly non-descript (as far as black C4S’s go). It’s got some 50k on its clock and has a well-used-but-maintained patina that looks…beautiful. Each rock chip is a badge of honor. Porsche builds its cars for this kind of usage and I’m sure they love seeing them leading active lives. And, it’s a manual 6-speed as well. What a bonus! I haven’t felt so needed in years.During my tenure as editor of a car magazine, we had 997 C4S in the long-term fleet. I remember it was an easy-to-learn car with an intuitive layout, good driver positioning and excellent seats. And it was a hoot to drive. VFE’s Porsche was exactly like that. It sounds like a normal 997-no crazy exhaust braaaap (maybe a little harmonic), no rubbing tires, nothing scraping the aerodynamics. It’s simply a lovely car and I find myself running the “could-I-afford-one-of-these” calculations in my head. This consumes a chunk of my brain’s higher functions and my driving devolves into that of a typical Toyota Camry owner. I’m rolling through town in 4th gear, just slogging the crap out of the engine. It’s got plenty of torque so it doesn’t care. But if a 911 could look sullen, this one surely would.I see the reflection of a black Porsche dancing across a glass building and noticed the driver staring at me, scowling even. I wondered who is behind the wheel, probably some asshole. It took a few seconds before remembering I was the asshole driving a black 911. That’s one of the reasons Porsches are so great; they don’t constantly remind the driver he’s in an extremely capable sports coupe. You want to drive it like a Camry? That’s fine. It should be a punishable offense but it’s not.I drove more reasonably as I flipped directions through Long Beach. Actually, I was on the LBGP road course as one point and cursed at the dis-jointed pavement. It was so bad it was making the tires ping. How the hell could an Indy car do 200+mph over this shitty tarmac?
The 911’s factory suspension is great at managing the bumps and I know the traction control was busy keeping things pointed the right way. There’s a long, sexy ramp in Long Beach that if negotiated correctly, encapsulates everything good about driving a Porsche. I do it perfectly and just as I’m about to hit hyperspace, I notice a CHP ½-mile behind. VFE’s 911 transforms into Camry-mode once more and the 17-mile drive to Fullerton is in slo-motion (68 mph).
The VF-Engineering designers set about designing the billet supercharger mounting bracket with CAD software creating solid models of parts to be CNC manufactured. The bracket was designed to utilize OEM bolt patterns and requires no alteration or relocation of any engine parts to be fitted. Made from 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum the bracket mounts to factory machined surface points on the aluminum engine block for a precision fit.
The air-to-water intercooler (charge cooler) was integrated into the tight engine bay as means of reducing charged induction (boost) temperatures. Lower charge temperatures reduce knock and improve the quality of the combustion cycle which means the 911 is not so apt to get hot and cranky. Air charge (boost) from the supercharger is directed through the chargecooler core before entering the throttle body. The cooler core contains isolated channels circulating with water from a separate self-contained system cooled by its own radiator. VF-Engineering integrated a Porsche OEM front radiator and front bumper vents into the kit. Water is circulated by means of an added OEM Bosch water pump through OEM GoodYear water lines and the unit is always on. Intake air temperatures in the manifold were measured to be 140 deg F even with ‘spirited’ driving at 118 deg temperatures in the Arizona desert. This dramatic drop in charge temperature helps the 997 create consistent power.Engine management software was by was crafted by HEX TUNING who tested both the Carrera 2 and 4 models. Multiple factors such as charge air temperatures, ignition timing, fuel trims, maps and injector performance were taken into account and monitored for wideband air fuel ratios at load levels greater than would be experienced on the road. The results are an increase of 150 horsepower and 90 ft-lbs of always-there usable torque. The HEX TUNING code is programmed into your ECU with the HEX-Flash programming cable. Install the HEX program and drivers from the enclosed USB drive in the cable package. Plug the cable into the OBD2 connector beneath the dashboard and follow the prompts to copy and send the file (it’s under 3mb) to your nearest HEX dealer. They will email the performance file that will be uploaded via the HEX cable. This is what the future of automotive ECU tuning will look like.
I pulled into the driveway, shut the engine off and just sat there listening to the tink-tink-tink of the cooling exhaust. was going to talk myself out of loving the VFE 911 by finding all its faults. The steering wheel had a few worn spots and the cigarette lighter was missing. It also had a small dent in the right quarter panel and two of the wheels had minor scrapes. That was the extent of its flaws.
Late that night I visited my “special sites” and began the search for my next car. There are several within the 35k to 40k range and a few wild cards below 30. No, I don’t need another car but this is a 911. Plus, what if the sun explodes next month. I can’t afford to wait.