Here’s everything wrong with my 996 Turbo project car

When you buy a used car, especially one that was a bargain, you expect a few things to be wrong with it. Not only does this include things that are broken or need a little TLC, but things that you personally want to change for the better enjoyment of the thing. After having lived with this 996 Turbo for over 2500 miles on the drive home from California, I found myself liking many things about it, but knowing deep in my heart that I needed to change a few things just to make myself feel more connected to the car. Personalization is key to proper enjoyment of a car in my eyes, so I hope you’ll follow me on this journey of perfecting an already pretty great car, as I make the changes here in the pages of FlatSixes.com.

Before I set about fixing everything, I should probably make a list of all the things that need to be fixed so I can check them off one by one. Let’s start on the exterior.

The wheels. These GT3 wheels were a stop-gap measure to get me home on a disaster of a road trip a couple of weeks ago. I had them laying around from my old Boxster project, and they bolted up, so I used them. They’re the right width and diameter for the car, but they are entirely the wrong offset for a widebody car and make the 911 look like it skipped leg day. I either need a set of spacers for these wheels, or I need different wheels entirely. A friend offered me a nice set of Kinesis wheels at a nice price, so maybe I’ll go that route.

The bumper. Obviously the front bumper is the first thing you see when you look at the car. It’s glaring and obvious that the paint is completely screwed up on this, and it needs to be addressed. My plan is to attempt to salvage this bumper, despite some flaws. I’m going to pull it off the car and strip what paint and primer remains from the underlying plastic.

The passenger sill. There are two fairly obvious dents in the passenger’s side, right under the door. Because the paint isn’t cracked or chipped at either of these dents, I’d like to see if they can be removed without needing a repaint. I’ll call a professional for that.

The driver rocker. This panel has clearly been bashed upon the rocks at some point, and the back half of it is hanging down almost to the ground. I’ll either need to rig this back together, or buy a new one.

The wing. In typical 996 Turbo fashion, the rear wing hydraulics have developed a leak and now the speed-deployed wing only pops up on the left side, leaving a crooked wing and a dashboard error any time I go on the highway. Not only is it unsightly and annoying, but it’s aerodynamically ruinous, and potentially dangerous as the speedometer rises. I’m considering the RennKit electric ram fix, or buying an aftermarket ducktail spoiler to give the car a unique look.

The color. I am not a silver kind of guy. I have come to loathe cars painted in greyscale, and I don’t really want to keep this car in such a boring color. Once the exterior blemishes are handled, I’ll get the car professionally wrapped and sorted, ideally in a classic Porsche color. I had considered getting it wrapped in Talbot Yellow to match my 912E, but lately I’m leaning toward the pale lilac color Moonstone. If you have any better suggestions, drop them in the comments section below.

The headlights and taillights. Up a the front of the car the egg headlights have faded to a pale yellow that is beyond unsightly. I have a handful of headlight refresh kits around, so I’ll get to a polish soon, and I’m considering leaning all the way in to the egg look and wrapping the lights in yellow vinyl for a GT racer at Le Mans look. Out back the tail lights are cracked in multiple places, and the right side lamp is missing a corner. They’re fine from far, but far from fine. Considering the cost to replace them, I may try to fix them up a bit and wrap the whole light in red vinyl to get by for now, but eventually these will need to be pitched and replaced.

That’s everything outside, so let’s move to the interior and figure a few things out there.

Fitment. I am a large person in both height and weight, and I find just a few things to be not quite satisfactory in the cabin of the 996 as it pertains to ergonomics and comfort. The stock seats are perfectly fine, though I would like them to be a color other than grey. The steering wheel is a little bit too big to feel sporty, and wants to occupy similar space as my right thigh. Luckily I have a Momo Prototipo laying around, I’ll figure out what I need to do in order to get that working correctly in the car. Similarly the center console makes me need to shift my right knee to the left and bend my foot to the right in order to clear it and still accelerate. It’s fine for short runs, but on longer ones it gets downright annoying. I will need to do a GT3-style center console delete. I’ve done them before in other cars and they work a treat. There’s only one problem, though…

The stereo. At some point in this car’s life, a previous owner gutted the dashboard like a fish and shoved a double-DIN head unit into the opening. I had hoped that I could take it out, move the HVAC controls up to the dash from the center console, and buy a smaller single-DIN unit to make the GT3 center console delete a nice fix. It doesn’t look like that will be the case, however. So I’ll have to fabricate my own center console delete that incorporates a mounting spot for the HVAC controls underneath the dash. I’ve got a few ideas how to make it work, but it’ll likely take some experimentation and perhaps iteration.

The rear seat. I never know what to do with the rear seat in a 911. It’s most useful as a luggage shelf, but in that case the seat backs get in the way and reduce the useable space. I have considered a rear seat delete, and there is a 996 bolt-in roll bar that could be had for a decent price locally. I’m still up in the air on that. We’ll see.

Okay, so how about the drivetrain?

The engine and transmission on this car are near-perfect. It’s putting down something like 575 horsepower to the wheels and boosting to an indicated and consistent 1.5 bar on pump gas. Before picking the car up, I had a local shop attend to the coolant pipes, having them pinned in place rather than wait for them to fail. I’m confident I made the correct choice there.

The front axle. At some point this car was converted to RWD, but it wasn’t done all the way. The “conversion” was simply to unbolt the driveshaft between the transmission and the front axle. I plan to finish the job by removing the differential and halfshafts at the front, and installing Rennline’s conversion spindles so I can keep the ABS ring but ditch the axles.

So that’s it. That’s everything I need to do to the 996 Turbo to make it right and to make it mine. It’s a long list, so I’d better get started.

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