In late 2006 my passion for Porsche that had been kindled by owning a boxster lead me to search for a 911. In February 2007 I found a lovely, well used 964 carrera 2 coupe in GP white and embarked on a new adventure. This running report is about my 964 that would be used for high days, holidays and track days and be a 'project car'. It wouldn't matter if it spent time waiting for things to be fixed as it wouldn't be used as a daily driver.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Some purchases for the future (Dec 07)

Well, as usual time has not been standing still. In the last few weeks I have purchased some 4 pot rear calipers (off a 928 S4) which I'm currently refurbishing to put on in the new year, to replace the little two pot calipers:

And I'm collecting these rather stunning, refurbished original Cup 1 wheels:

New ARB bushes (Nov 07)

The winter upgrades and mods started yesterday when I took up a friend's suggestion to replace some of the 'tired' suspension bushes. The wishbone bushes look to be in pretty good shape so I can wait and do those when I change springs and shocks. So I decided to change the anti-roll bar bushes.

The old bushes were in a pretty sorry state as you can see below. I bought new Powerflex bushes as a replacement (£60 for four bushes!). The clamps would probably have still been serviceable after cleaning them up but to put new ones on at the same time for £3.50 each was a no brainer.

Getting the old bushes and clamps out was pretty easy but putting the new ones in was a b1tch of a job and only achieved by much cursing. You can just see the bush and clamp tucked away behind the wheel hub in the pic below.

I'm sticking with the standard ARBs for now (20 mm front, 21 mm rear) but hopefully the new poly bushes will stiffen the car up a bit. Thicker/adjustable ARBs will be something I'll look into after the springs and shocks which are on my list for next year (funds permitting).

Monday, 10 November 2008

The cost of a year on track (Nov 07)

I totted up the costs directly attributable to the trackdays this year.

Trackday fees = £568.50
Training day and on-track training = £280
Accomodation = £92
Petrol = £360
Oil top ups = £7
Brakes and fluid changes = £260
Tyres = £474

Grand Total = £2,041.50

Worth every penny!

Nb. Not including 'ring trip as the car stayed at home for that one.

Here's what a rear tyre looked like after 4 trackdays:

Last Trackday of the Year (Oct 07)

First off, the change of pads and brake fluid was entirely successful. Not a hint of brake fade all day with the added bonus that the Pagid blues provided great initial stopping power and felt a lot more progressive than the previous standard road pads did.

The day started with a wet track which made things a little interesting! Knowing it was wet and since I was there very early (about half an hour before anyone else arrived biggrin.gif ) I had the set of tyres I'd ordered (Conti Sport Contact 2 for £474) put straight on. The suppliers (Protyre Motorsports) warned me they would be like glass until scrubbed in, and on a wet track they were right!

Thankfully, the track dried rapidly and stayed dry for the rest of the day. It is THE most technically demanding and enjoyable track I have driven so far. On my own I may have struggled to enjoy the day and would have been constantly moving off the racing line to let others past (GT3s and turbos were common as muck!) but luckily I'd blagged Marcus 'the Goose' Carniel to instruct for the day. With his help I got faster, and faster, and faster throughout the day. Being a club racer (in a 911) and a local, he knew exactly how to get through each section of the track and by being with me for session after session he got me to work on particular parts of the track each time we went out. Once I'd got one part right, we would move onto the next. It was simple as that.

The 964 doesn't have the power, agility or the electronic stability programs of modern Porsches but when in the right hands or being instructed by the right hands, boy can it haul ass! All this was achieved by showing me the right lines and getting me to develop a smooth steering input technique, with a little bit of trail braking to flick the tail round for good measure. Getting him to drive the car and demonstrate to me what it could do (he never looked like he was taking libertys with it) was a revelation. Cars with 100+ HP more pulled away from us on the straights but were reeled in again on the bends. There were lines through bends where I would turn in, let the car drift and then try to turn in again (my reading of what needed to be done). This meant I was fighting with the steering wheel, adjusting the throttle and unsettling the car. On the same bends he got me to turn in at the right point, set the steering wheel with the right amount of lock and the result was that the car would follow an arc that brought me to exactly the right point I needed to be for the next section of the track. Genious!

Similary to take all the first kerb of the chicane while under braking and then to change down to second in the middle to get maximum exit speed, was something I wouldn't have worked out in a month of Sundays!

At the end of a brilliant day both I and the Goose (and a few passengers) had really enjoyed the car which, simply, did not miss a beat all day. His summary was that the car was currently set up very well, didn't have any great under or oversteer issues and that the biggest benefit I would get from modifications in the short term was to get another set of wheels with sticky tyres which would allow a little bit more corner speed.

This gives an idea of why some refer to Oulton as a mini 'ring

My instructor showing me the way round Shell oils hairpin

Foulston's chicane

Going into Lodge

Keeping the younger generation of Pork in their place!

Attention to the brakes (Oct 07)

This weekend's job is to get the brakes in good order for the car's last track outing of the year, next week at Oulton.

Here's the stuff I got to go on it:

I've gone for Pagid Sports for the front which are a bit more track focussed. Unfortunately I could only get standard pads for the back. I'm trying Halfords uprated Dot4 racing fluid to tackle the fade problem. Getting the pagids and uprated fluid has turned what normally be a fairly cheap parts bill into one that cost the best part of £220!

Here's a shot of the rear pads I took out. The extreme heat they suffered at Donny is clearly shown by the melted brake pad sensors.

New pads now installed so just need to do the bleeding tomorrow.

When the rain finally cleared out of the way today I finished this weekend's brake blitz by flushing with the new uprated brake fluid. With the eezibleed kit it's....well....easy. Here's a few pics to help anyone who wants to save a few quid by doing their own fluid changes:

1. Fill the bleed bottle with fluid and attach it to the fluid reservoir. The brake reservoir cap and float has been removed and the correct cap from the kit fitted. The mole grips are crimping the overflow pipe so that the system is completely closed.

2. Connect the bleed bottle hose to the tyre valve of the nearest wheel (after having first dropped the tyre pressure to 20 psi).

3. Starting at the brake caliper furthest from the reservoir (rear nearside for mine) attach a clear piece of tubing to the bleed valve and crack it open. Catch the fluid in a jar. Once the fluid gets nice and clean (about 250 ml) close the valve.

4. Disconnect the line from the tyre valve, refill the bleed bottle as necessary and move onto the next brake caliper. By the time you get to the front caliper nearest the reservoir it will take less and less fluid for the new fluid to come through.

The whole process took about an hour. Most of this time was taken up by jacking up and removing the wheel from each corner.

Then I went out and bedded in the new pads by doing about 10 progressively harder stops from 60 to 10 mph. All is now looking good for tuesday at Oulton

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Trackday at Donington Park (Oct 07)

This was the first time I had the opportunity to put into practice the training I'd received on the Prodrive track training day. Sure enough I found out a lot more about what the car (and I) could and couldn't do blushing.gif . On the whole the car held up very well throughout the day. On track it was sure footed for the majority of the time. The best fun was on bends like Macleans, Coppice and the old hairpin. Here it was possible to jump on the power at the apex and let the car drift out to the opposite of the track with lots of speed and no drama. Similarly it was very quick throught the Foggy chicane when yet again as soon as I'd turned in and clipped the first apex, it was a simple case of pointing the car at the second apex with full throttle.

The most difficult corners to get through quickly were the melbourne hairpin and goddards. Throughout out the day I had to be content with braking hard, going in deep and only feathering the throttle until I was out the other side. Too harsh and too soon would make the tail slide but having had a big spin at Craner curves early in the day I decided not to experiment with trying to slide it round those corners in case I ran out of talent.

The main issue with the car on the day was that the hard braking points of the melbourne loop took it's toll on my brakes. Although I'd bled some fluid and checked the pads (more than 50% left) before setting out to Donny I got a big case of brake fade after 4 laps in the second session. After checking that everything was OK and letting them cool I was happy to carry on for the rest of the day but I had to be a lot more sympathetic with them by braking much earlier than I would have liked to.

The other plus points from the day were the confirmation that removing the undertray had removed the embaressing phenomenom of smoke coming out of the engine bay after a hard session and that the battery, which had started run down due to a period of low use, had fully charged back up by the time I got home. All in all a brilliant day and the car continues to provide both the fun and thrills that I was hoping for.

Start of weight reduction (Oct 07)

Over time I aim to put the car on a partial diet to improve the power to weight ratio. However, I'm not aiming to go mad with it as although I want the car to be a bit quicker for track days, I still want it to remain comfortable for touring.

Today I removed the rear seat backs and the engine undertray. Removing the latter should also help engine cooling and I'm hoping it will fix the mild smoking problem I get when the car is driven hard - I think it's being caused by the oil that weeps from the valve covers dropping onto the tray. As the tray makes contact with the primary silencer, the collected oil then burns off.

Weight losses so far:

Fitting teardrop mirrors in place of flag mirrors -1 Kg
Removal of undertray - 6.4 Kg
Removal of rear seat backs - 7 Kg

Total loss so far - 14.4 Kg

Further losses are planned over the winter. These include swapping the leather comfort seats for Recaro Pole Positions and to fit a cup bypass pipe in place of the primary silencer.

Even with the rear seat backs removed it still looks pretty tidy in the back:

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Fixing the smile (Sep 07)

The car, like many 964s today, has always had a frown when you look at from the front. This is caused by the cars being carelessly grouned on kerbs and the like, causing the brackets that secure the lower portion of the bumper to be bent upwards.

This picture perfectly illustrates its gloomy face:

After removing the covers below the bumper and a bit of surgery with some hefty pliers, the smile has been restored:

I've now pretty much achieved my primary aim of bringing the car up to a decent standard, got everything working that needed fixing plus a few cosmetic upgrades (clear lenses and steering wheel) and found what it (and I) can do on track as a standard 964 C2. With winter coming I can start thinking about modding it to make it more track focussed for next year.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

New Steering Wheel (Aug 07)

The steering wheel on the car was changed along time ago to a momo sports steering wheel. Although better to use than the original Porsche wheel, it's one item that I thought let the interior down.

Steering wheel as it was:

So this weekend I put on a new 'clubsport' steering wheel which is just as functional but, I think, a lot more aesthetic.

New Clubsport wheel:

Pro-drive Driver Development day (Aug 07)

This rates as one of the best performance enhancements I've done to the car. It was a full day of instruction at Prodrive's test facility near Kenilworth, Warwickshire. There were 3 elements to the day, each of which was done twice:

Skid pan

This was all about provoking the rear to break away and to find out how you could correct and manage the slide with throttle input and opposite lock. I spun the car a lot! Eventually I was able to get the car to fish tale down the length of the skid pan when I learned how fast you needed to be with applying the lock. Essentially you had to apply opposite lock as soon as the the tail broke away. Great fun but very difficult.

Short track

A very twisty and narrow track which didn't allow you to use more than 3rd gear. This taught us the importance of positioning the car so that it was set up for following corners i.e. thinking ahead. It also taught us that sometimes it's possible to find one line through a complex of corners. Once found the complex could be treated as one bend, therefore eliminating some braking points to make the quickest progress. By positioning the car in the correct place of a complex of corners it was amazing how quickly you can get on the power to obtain a fast exit speed. We were also shown the benefit of using lift off oversteer to make the best progress through tight hairpin bends.

High speed track

This was about putting everything learned on the short track into practice at high speed. The track allowed speeds well in excess of 100 mph to be obtained. Here again we learned about using vision to find the racing lines. Yet again I was shocked how quickly I could get on to the power once the car had been set on the right line and steadied on the brakes prior to turn in. I was cornering at speeds I've never done before and for the first time experienced the car close to its limits (as evidenced by some nice drifting around the fastest bend while travelling at 3 figures). I also learned that for corners requiring down shifts that the gear changes should be done in the first 3rd of the braking zone, with a very quick but smooth action. This helps keep the revs up for when you turn in (again allowing you to have early power and drive through the corner).

It was one instructor to two people all day. This worked really well because after 10 high speed laps you needed a breather before moving on to the next session.

The car behaved beautifully all day. Most of the instructors hadn't driven a 964 before and each commented about the high grip levels the car had. One commented, "this car is ballistic considering it's age!"

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Fixing the ABS issue (July 07)

After a nice trip out at Donny yesterday it was back to work today and time to have a go at tackling the intermittent ABS problem. A bit of research suggested that with no dash warnings it could be down to dirty wheel speed sensors so these were duly removed and looked like this!

Use of a soft cloth and some electrical contact cleaner got rid of the muck and swarf from the magnets and I cleaned out the housing with a nylon brush and a vacuum cleaner for good measure.

This seems to have cured the issue.

Trackday at Donington Park (July 07)

Being the first full track day for the car I decided that it would be better to be prepared for most eventualities so the night before, the front boot was filled with a fully loaded tool box, my trolley jack, foot pump and a box containing oil, sprays, lubricants and tape. This is something I'd never considered with the Boxster but the age of the 964 was possibly a factor that could lead to a breakdown being more likely. Of course on arrival at Donington everything was removed prior to going on track. And I'm glad to say that at the end of the day it was all put back without being used - bar the foot pump for adjusting tyre pressures for the track.

The first session gave us two sighting/warm up laps behind a pace car and my first driving experience of the place. At those speeds (not more than 60 mph) the car flowed effortlessly along. Then it was time to put my foot down for a few laps. I can't remember a lot about the first session as I was so engrossed in learning the track and trying to find lines and gears. Most of these were wrong to begin with and I continually let cars pass as they seemed to know more about what they were doing than I did! The thing I most remember is that the track was a little damp and the car skidded a couple of times under heavy braking (particularly at the end of the Dunlop straight where you get the chance to pull top speed). This just confirmed to me what I already knew that the ABS is a bit unreliable and needs investigating. Future laps would be driven with the mindset that the car did NOT have ABS and therefore I had to start braking a little earlier and practice smooth threshold braking.

In the three following sessions the track remained dry so the ABS issue never got in the way. In the second session I think my passenger at the time, Plynchy, summed the car up perfectly, "it feels really planted". There was no better evidence of this than Craner curves where it stuck to the line through the Apex like glue. In the early sessions I just held the car in 3rd gear through Craner in fear of what could happen unsure.gif . By the end I was changing up to 4th and on one occassion glanced down at the rev counter and saw 140 Kph flash up on the digital display w00t.gif . The car was similarly composed through the next section of the track where after the old hairpin there are a couple of gentle left handers that lead up to Mcleans. The more power I dared to put down the more the car gripped in this section. I will have to remember that next time as this is a place the car could easily pick up a second or two.

Strangely, the car never gives a feeling of massive acceleration but that's because it delivers the power in a very linear fashion, there's no sudden urge above 4,500 rpm like I get in the boxster, it just keeps pulling at the same rate. Also the 5 gears appear to be very long, most noticeably 3rd which could be used for every corner if the track was clear in front. Of course the lack of feeling of acceleration was completely false because as I got to know the track and got quicker, the more cars I ended up overtaking and seeing them get smaller in my mirrors. biggrin.gif . As for top speed on the day I clocked 178 kph (4th gear) along the Dunlop straight before braking (in plenty of time) for Goddard's chicane. This was down on the Purd's and Pete's 997S V-maxs (I know for a fact that Purds clocked 121 mph as I saw it wink.gif ) but there's no shame in that. Talking of which the last session that the three of us did together, we got out at the front of the pack and went round in a nice high speed procession for 4 laps. It must have been quite a cool sight watching two nearly new 997Ss tearing down the home straight with an old white 964 in hot persuit happy.gif .

In summary, the car behaved almost flawlessly and was great fun to drive - lots of grip and lots of feel through the steering. It'll never be the quickest car out there but if I can improve my driving ability* it WILL go round a track a lot quicker before it gets to its limits. It did give me one little warning though near the end ermm.gif . I turned in a little early for Redgate and on fearing I was going to run too wide, I did the classic 'panic lift off ' which resulted in the inevitable oversteer moment ohmy.gif . Strangely the natural lift off reaction was followed immediately by a natural gentle application of power and opposite lock and the moment was over, allowing me to carry on blasting round the track without anyone even knowing innocent.gif .

*I've got a driver development day at Prodrive booked for later in the summer.