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Wayne 962 Wayne 962 is offline
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959 Update: Comparing the 959 to a 996...

Since we were all out at SEMA and Rennsport III last weekend, not too much has been done on the 959 in the past few weeks. We did get the floor cleaned in the storage / working area, and it looks almost like a museum now - I'm afraid to take any of the cars over there now because it looks so neat and clean. But, we will eventually. I need to move the scissors lift over there so that we can get the 959 up in the air.

Tom Woodford (the fellow who was my technical assistant on the Engine Rebuild book) was staying over at my house on Sunday night because we all flew back from Florida together and the only flight for him t Reno was the next day. So, Monday, we took out the cars and played a little bit. First up was the 959 - he had never driven one. With the first turbo fixed, the car comes on full boost relatively quickly. I've driven 996 turbos before, and if memory serves me correctly, the 996 turbo is very similar in performance to the 959. I think there was an Excellence article a few years back that said the same thing. Anyways, with the California mods that needed to be done to the car, I have been wary of how the HP was comparing to a normally aspirated CA car (like the plain vanilla 996 non-turbo).

We took the 959 out for a sloshing on the 405/105 getting it up to significant speeds in some less-populated areas of the freeway. Brakes were very responsive, if not slightly softer than they are in the '72 RS clone (power brakes). Very good stopping power. Unfortunately, that beeping alarm came back with the 4WD system, - I will have to work on that in the future. Also, we came to the conclusion that the shocks seem worn. The car was bouncing a bit more than I would like to see - it didn't quite seem right. I think I have a source for rebuilding the shocks - I would probably rather do that then pay $9000 for eight new shocks. Plus, with the dual shock mechanism, I'm not sure if one or both of the shocks provide dampening (one has the hydraulic lift system, and the other has a coil spring). It's quite a complicated setup.

The heater control unit was unplugged, and as per usual, the heat was on full blast. I need to ground pin A11 one of these days to turn off the heater solenoid. I have the heater control unit out at a rebuilding place right now - more on that later...

The 959 has phenomenal power - there is nothing wrong with the engine, and turbo system. It's incredible, and it keeps on delivering, all the way up to 6500 rpm. At Rennsport III, I saw another 959 that had been highly modified by Canepa to produce 700 HP. While that car must be hugely fast, I can't help but think that I would rather buy a GT2 and leave the 959 alone. Plus the mods cost something like $350K, so I think you could almost buy two GT2s for that amount. Plus, the 997 GT2s were making lots of noise and lots of speed at Rennsport III - they appeared to be the fastest running cars on the track that whole day.

So, after sloshing the 959, we put it away and then took out the 996 (normally aspirated). I bought this car in March (or May, can't remember) for use with the new book I'm writing, "101 Projects for Your Porsche 996/997". It's a beautiful silver car with an aero kit and a bunch of cool, neat options (litronics, sport seats, short shift, sport muffler, silver gauges, upgraded steering wheel - all the goodies). It will make an excellent car for the book. Since driving the car home from Vegas in March or May, though, I've only put about 100 miles or so on it. I just don't really have anywhere to drive, and when I'm looking for spirited driving, I usually take the 1972 RS Clone (which is a damn fun car to drive).

Anyways, we took the 996 out and this was the first time I had driven it since getting the 959. With 300 HP, the 3.6 996 *should* have felt pretty good. Boy, it really didn't. I was really surprised at how slow it felt compared to the 959 - I figured that the California programming would have reduced the 959's power - apparently, it did not. The 300 HP 996 seemed very slow, and seemed to brake a lot less well than the 959. The big differences really surprised me. The only area where the 996 was better than the 959 was in the suspension, the 959 was bouncing all around - I think that there are one or more shocks that need overhauling. After the overhaul, I expect the 959 to feel very good again.

Don't get me wrong - the 996 is a very fine car. Power is good, braking is good, and the suspension on this particular car, well it's like new. The 996 only has about 23,000 miles on it - ironically almost exactly the same as the 959. Interesting how the interior of the 996 is in so much better shape than the 959 - the soft leather of the 959 just doesn't have very much durability (lots of scratches, etc.). It's apparent how cars age even when they aren't driven too much. The 996 is almost as close to a new car as you can get - the 959 definitely shows it's age as a 20-year old car.

I think with the rebuilding of the shocks on the 959, it should be on par or superior to the 996. Right now, it's a bit bouncy. I'm going to pull off the top motors that control the dampening of the shocks and verify that they are turning correctly when I adjust the knob in the center console. Honestly, I can't seem to tell the difference between the various settings. Perhaps there is a problem there.

It will be interesting to see how the 959 performs at the Streets of Willow when we take it there on the 20th of November. I'm a bit concerned with putting a car with so much power on such a small, twisty track. Plus, with the suspension bouncing around, it's bound to handle not-as-well as I would like. We'll see though, and I will be sure to take many pictures. I also plan to put headlamp protecting film on the lenses before we go...

Anyways, I thought I would share my impressions and comparisons of those two cars...

-Wayne
__________________
Wayne R. Dempsey, Founder, Pelican Parts Inc., and Author of:
101 Projects for Your BMW 3-Series 101 Projects for Your Porsche 911 How to Rebuild & Modify Porsche 911 Engines 101 Projects for Your Porsche Boxster & Cayman 101 Projects for Your Porsche 996 / 997
Coming Soon:
101 Projects for Your MINI Cooper
Old 11-08-2007, 12:27 AM
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