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Old 07-17-2019, 04:18 AM   #1
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Rebounding 986 2.5L for beginner track car?

Hi All,

I need a sanity check here. I have an opportunity to buy back my first Porsche - a '97 986 2.5L that I sold to a friend (a non-car guy) 9 years ago. It's in ok condition now and will need a complete go-over to ensure it's roadworthy. That part I am fine with doing, and as long as I want to just keep it as a nice driver/date car, I would take it back gladly (he wants $2,000 for it -- far less than what I sold it to him for!).

But, I'd like to set it up as a beginner track car for my girlfriend who wants to learn to drive on a track and will get her first taste of a car at speed this weekend at Mid-Ohio. I'm assuming she will come away with "the bug" and want to do it a lot more.

I track a highly modded E36 M3, which is a beast and would like her to have something a bit easier to learn on, so I'm intrigued by getting back my first P-car, making it road-worthy, but also giving her something safe to learn on.

So, I know the '97 2.5L wouldn't be the first choice for a track car, but I'm thinking for what it will cost me to buy it back, get it street roadworthy (all the usual items - all fluids, wear items, etc.), it may be worth it. What other items should I be thinking of to make it a safe, reliable DE track car for a beginner? (Please advise if you think I should run away from this and get something else).

Some things I'm thinking about:
- Seat belts are 20+ years old, so will look into replacing with stock 3-point (it will be a driver, so no need to go 5/6-point at this time).
- IMS shouldn't be an issue on this one - it's the double row bearing, which is the 1% failure group, but I'm open for opinions.
- Brakes - stock calipers or upgrade? Pads?
- Car has a hardtop, so no cage needed at this time
- 17" wheels with street tires (probably the same ones I sold the car with!) - any suggestions on a good street/track tire for the 986?
- I don't plan on any extensive suspension changes initially, but any obvious improvements to be thinking about?
- Serpentine belt - it's probably the original, so it will be changed
- I'll check the coolant tank for wear, cracks and replace if needed.
- I replaced the oil/water separator just before I sold it, so I think I'm ok on that.

Anything else? I greatly appreciate the experience that exists on this forum, so all thoughtful suggestions will be considered!


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Old 07-17-2019, 12:34 PM   #2
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I think a 2.5L Boxster is honestly the perfect car to get your feet wet on the track. It's definitely not the fastest thing out there, but it's fast enough to get a feel for high speed driving and forces you to learn to be a good driver if you want to keep up with others out on the track - how to brake, learn the line, carry momentum and corner effectively. All of these things are slightly less important if someone's driving a high horsepower car and can simply stomp on it in the straights to crush the Boxsters of the world out there on the track even if they're slower in the corners.

My first track experience was a '99 Boxster, and kept tracking it for 7 years, racking up more and more seat time, improving driving skills until I finally moved up to a 911 this year. And honestly, I'm pretty sure there were still several seconds of improvement in my laptimes I could still shave off in the Boxster if I were to keep tracking that.

Overall, there's a lot to be said for driving a "slow" car fast.

As far as your list, I the only thing I would add is a proper track alignment. I know the stock suspension doesn't allow for a ton of camber, but if nothing has been done with it or it's been neglected, a proper track alignment can go a long way. On the tire question, I have been extremely happy with the Hankook Ventus R-S4, and the price is definitely right. (You have a lot more options on tires if you use 225/45R17 front tire sizes instead of the stock 205/50).

Either way, no need to upgrade stock calipers - just make sure you've got a decent set of track pads and fresh, high-temp fluid like Ate Typ 200. You might want to consider adding larger, GT3 brake ducts and tying up the brake wear sensors so they don't melt from the heat those brakes are going to generate on track.

Other than that, I hope she has fun! It's going to be a blast.
1999 Boxster
2013 Carrera
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Old 07-17-2019, 05:35 PM   #3
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986 and 944 are my two most recommended introductory track cars. A great learning platform.

Basic stuff to add:

Racing brake pads and hi temp fluid.
991 GT3 brake cooling ducts
Brey Krause roll bar extension.
Hankook RS4 or Nitto NT-01 tires 225/255 17
GT3 A-arms in front to maximize contact patch and greatly improve tire wear. Will pay for itself in 5 track days.

2009 Cayman 2.9L PDK (with a few tweaks)
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Old 07-17-2019, 09:11 PM   #4
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If it were me, I wouldn't invest a lot of money on brake pads or tires until after her first or second DE event. She may hate it, and then you will have wasted the money on those items.

Don't get me wrong, the car should have good pads and tires on it, but I don't think it's necessary to drop a bunch of coin on racing grade stuff just yet. Most drivers won't get to the point of needing something like the Nitto tires for at least the first season of DE events.

For sure flush and bleed the brake fluid.
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Old 07-18-2019, 05:20 AM   #5
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just make sure the stock suspension is in good shape, maintenance is up to date (plugs fluids, belt, waterpump, etc), and the pads have most of their life left. Make sure you check the radiators for a bunch of crap between the rad and condenser.

For tires, something like Dunlop Direzza star specs (not sure if they have our sizes) or an RE71 will be a good combo of streetability and track performance. I would NOT go to RS4s or NT01s at this time.

I'd also consider a CG lock to keep her from sliding all over the damn place.

If she gets more into it and gets faster, then you can start with the track mods like control arms, r comp tires, third rad/S oil cooler, etc.
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Old 07-18-2019, 04:21 PM   #6
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I'm with RacerBoy here. Starting off at the track requires decent street tires in good condition and not more than a few years old, stock brakes that are within spec, brake fluid change within the year, and a track inspection at an accredited garage (usually free of charge) to make sure that everything is ship shape. Anything else can wait for a few events. When you start out in a DE event, you think it's fast but it's not! Don't throw money away, you may need it later. Ask me how I know!
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987 air intake TB and plenum, Mantissport 2 litre sump, UDP, Bilstein B6 with H&R lowering spings, re71-rs for track, other stuff.
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Old 07-18-2019, 08:09 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Quadcammer View Post
I'd also consider a CG lock to keep her from sliding all over the damn place.
What is a CG lock?

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Old 07-19-2019, 05:08 AM   #8
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Great advice everyone. I kind of thought it was a no-brainer to bring the Boxster back home where she belongs.

I wasn't aware of the Krause extension bar, but will look into it.
Definitely all fluids will be changed on this one. For brake fluid, I've used ATE but currently run Motul 600 in my M3. Both are great fluids. I run Hawk HT10s, but that's way too aggressive a pad for this. Any suggestions on a milder track pad that works well on the early 986s?

Thanks for the tire suggestions, too. I'll need to do more research to decide if I change the sizing from stock or not, but I'll definitely have my alignment shop put it on the rack and dial in as much camber as possible.

CG Lock! I bought one years ago and never used it, but yes, I'll snug her in with it.

And of course great advice to not throw a lot of coin at the car before she's ready to step up into more performance.

Thanks again everyone. Much appreciated!
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Old 07-19-2019, 06:06 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by maytag View Post
What is a CG lock?

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I was wondering that myself. Did a google search and found this:


It's an adapter that keeps the lap belt tight.
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Old 07-19-2019, 06:30 AM   #10
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I've not used the CG Lock, as you can get the standard 3 point seat belt to hold you in place with a simple trick:

1. Slide the seat all the way back.
2. Put on the seat belt.
3. Pull seat belt tight as you can around you and tug on it so it locks. Keep tension on it so it stays locked.
4. Slide the seat forward until the belt is tight against you. The belt should be a little uncomfortable when it's this tight.

It's definitely not a race harness, but it's also free. I've found it to be a fantastic solution to keep me from sliding around the seat, or hanging on to the steering wheel to stay in the seat while on track.
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Old 07-22-2019, 07:22 AM   #11
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Thanks all for your perspectives. Just what I was thinking!

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