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Wayne at Pelican Parts's Avatar
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
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Old 11-07-2007, 11:27 PM
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Good reading, Wayne. I am glad you still found the 'plain' 996 a good car. It tend to get bashed in comparison to it΄s newer (and older) siblings. Hearing real life driving stories about the 959 icon is always a treat. I should have stolen the brand new I rode in back in 88.. Hidden it away and pulled it out today as good as new.
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Old 11-07-2007, 11:43 PM
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Wayne,
Did I miss your thread on repairding the first stage turbo? Due to my curiosity about the 959, I've been trying to keep up with your exploits and this car.

Doug
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Old 11-08-2007, 06:09 AM
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Wayne,
Couldn't find a comparo with the 959 to the plain jane 996. I did read this one back when you acquired the 959. Really good read about the 959 and the 997 tt.

http://www.pistonheads.com/doc.asp?c=52&i=15223
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Old 11-08-2007, 06:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BRPORSCHE View Post
Wayne,
Couldn't find a comparo with the 959 to the plain jane 996. I did read this one back when you acquired the 959. Really good read about the 959 and the 997 tt.

http://www.pistonheads.com/doc.asp?c=52&i=15223
That article explains the acceleration very accurately:

As soon as the road allows, I take a deep breath and floor the throttle in second gear. First of all very little happens -- it's quick but not especially startling. The boost gauge is flickering into life as I edge above 3,000rpm, at which point only the first of the two turbochargers is doing its stuff and it feels pretty much like a 930 of the early 1980s. As the revs quickly climb to 5,000rpm, the second turbo comes on song and the effects leave me reeling in shock and awe. The 959 simply roars, hunkers down and launches itself forward with such ferocity that I'm having great difficulty not using obscene language to describe what it feels like.
Old 11-08-2007, 07:31 AM
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Thanks again for sharing Wayne, it’s always an enjoyable read. If we can get this market down some more over a period of time it will help my bank roll for a 959.

I think I missed the turbo fix thread too, damm.
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Old 11-08-2007, 07:43 AM
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Great for Tom to be able to drive a car like that after his many years of association with the Porsche marque and all the cars he's built. Kudos to you, Wayne.
Old 11-08-2007, 07:51 AM
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I think I missed the turbo fix thread too, damm.
Wayne removed the covers that surround the engine and discovered that the hose from the left-side turbo-to-intercooler was not connected!
Old 11-08-2007, 07:53 AM
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Here is the thread with the turbo repair:
Progress and Setback today with the Project 959 (Monday Oct 22nd)...

PS get long oil, google, and apple and the 959 could be yours.
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Last edited by Rich76_911s; 11-08-2007 at 08:14 AM..
Old 11-08-2007, 08:08 AM
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Thanks for the link Rich.

Short Crude upside calls, short delta in GOOG and np in AAPL at the current moment.
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Old 11-08-2007, 08:24 AM
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I wonder if more people have "sat in" the 959 over the years - that might account for some of the additional scratches beyond just the softness of the leather.

It'd be interesting to put a stopwatch on both cars for something like a 50 to 80 mph run...
Old 11-08-2007, 09:20 AM
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Great read Wayne.

I have yet to see a 959 up in the Pacific Northwest. Hoping to see Gates drive his around, but I don't slum it in Medina. Someday I guess.
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Old 11-08-2007, 10:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RWebb View Post
I wonder if more people have "sat in" the 959 over the years - that might account for some of the additional scratches beyond just the softness of the leather.

It'd be interesting to put a stopwatch on both cars for something like a 50 to 80 mph run...

The leather in the back seats is curiously scratched all over the place too - like someone tossed their golf bags there continuously. I think it's just real fragile stuff - not like the leather that looks 100% perfect in my 120K mile BMW E39 5-Series.

As for a stopwatch, I wish I could bring both cars out to the Streets of Willow on the 20th, but I only have room for one car on my trailer. We're going out there the night before with the trailer and the mini-RV. I hate driving at 4:30AM to the track, and then driving all day while exhausted and tired.

Thanks for the post to that article, I will print that and put it in my archives.

-Wayne
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Old 11-08-2007, 10:17 AM
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"Short Crude upside calls, short delta in GOOG and np in AAPL at the current moment."

Trader????

Show some real nerve: Buy PUTS, write (naked) out-of-the-money CALLS, & then short
the stocks & best of all; sell FUTURES on crude.

Real BRIGHT traders (PC & internet connection), like those before in 1987 (major mkt)
& in 2000 with the internet stocks!

They're back!!!!!!!!!
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Old 11-08-2007, 10:49 AM
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THe puts are already too rich for our blood, we're short delta in crude already.
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Old 11-08-2007, 10:55 AM
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Curious as to how the 959 is legal to drive? Do you have it registered as another car or as a test vehicle or something?
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Old 11-08-2007, 11:08 AM
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Curious as to how the 959 is legal to drive? Do you have it registered as another car or as a test vehicle or something?

They have been legal for quite sometime now, but have to be federalized properly.
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Old 11-08-2007, 11:19 AM
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The car was originally imported into the US and federalized in or around 2001/2002. They added an O2 sensor, new programming and CATs, and now it's CA smog-legal.

-Wayne
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Old 11-09-2007, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Wayne at Pelican Parts View Post
I wish I could bring both cars out to the Streets of Willow on the 20th, but I only have room for one car on my trailer.
-Wayne
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Old 11-09-2007, 04:28 PM
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Thanks for the writeup, Wayne.

As for a 300 HP 996 being anywhere near as quick as a 959? C'mon, Wayne. I love my 996, but I'm not delusional enough to think that the 996 is even in the same ballpark as a 959. The 996 is quick, but not super car quick.
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Old 11-09-2007, 06:10 PM
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