In a day and age where carb-counting and slimming down is practically becoming a religion, the opposite holds true in the automotive aftermarket industry--making cars look wider is all the rage. Companies worldwide are pushing the envelope to see how wide they can get without going tastelessly overboard. Case in point: This 1999 Porsche 996 is stylishly wide and stunningly good-looking.
The first time I saw Vincent Wong's (he of iForged Performance Alloys) Porsche it was driving toward me at our photo spot in Southern California. Its substantial girth mesmerized me as I stood, saucer-eyed in the middle of the road. I barely heard editor Bidrawn screaming at me, "What the hell are you doing? Get off the damn road already!" It was just like the first time I saw a Ferrari Testarossa back in the mid '80s. Compared to other sports cars of the time, I just couldn't get over the width of the Ferrari's rear end. That same amazement and disbelief occurred when I saw iForged's Porsche.
The exquisite custom metal widebody was fabricated by Metal Collision Experts in Culver City, Calif. Finding a wing that would aesthetically and aerodynamically complement the car was no easy task, considering its width, but a GT2M wing from 996 Wings did the trick, as did a 993 S hood.
With a car that already sported sizable contact patches, the new running gear is nearly as wide as the body. One side of the Porsche sports iForged Revs; iForged Aeros are on the other--both in iForged's Hyper Black finish. These custom forged aluminum wheels measure 9x19-in. in the front and 14x19-in. in the rear--I repeat, 14 in. wide, with a 6-in. polished lip! Up front, the 996 has plenty of cornering and stopping grip with 255/30-19 Pirelli Rosso tires. The massive rears are wrapped with--get this--355/25-19s, and that's only until Vincent finds a tire company willing to make a tire one or even two sizes wider.
Even though it's more than likely very little braking input will be needed to slow this car down, Vincent installed a quad-piston Stoptech big-brake kit with two-piece rotors, measuring 14 in. and 13.1 in. for the front and rear, respectively, to ensure that with so much decelerating grip brake fade will never be a problem.
With the near comical amount of rubber and rotating wheel mass one would think this car would be significantly slower than a stock 996. Not true! Evolution Motorsports' supercharger kit guarantees this 996 can outrun most other Porsches and sports car predators. Reportedly tested at 360 whp (about 420 bhp) at 6 psi boost, the Vortech V2-based supercharger kit uses a liquid-to-air intercooler that chills the intake charge for maximum performance and engine reliability. The linear boost characteristics of the belt-driven centrifugal blower result in an escalating power curve that leaves you thinking it could rev forever--if it weren't for the 7200-rpm rev limiter programmed into the GIAC USA software.
That said, the large wheels and tires doubtlessly play a role in removing at least a few of the 360 ponies. However, those lost stallions--and probably a few more--have been re-stabled in the 3.4-liter engine thanks to the addition of a Fabspeed exhaust system that flows from equal-length stainless headers out to a pair of stainless mufflers and tips.
If more power is needed, an additional 75 ponies are on call at any given moment. Just flick the switch of Nitrous Express' nitrous oxide system. All the available power (all 495-bhp worth) is transferred through a Spec Stage 3 clutch, which by the feel of it is very street-worthy indeed.
In addition to the AutoMeter gauges, the widebody 996's interior sports pricey, factory-original upgrades, including a Porsche six-point rollbar and Porsche GT3 Cup seats.
Whether on track or carving up a mountain road--as I did with this thoroughbred--the JIC Magic coilover suspension system keeps the entire chassis balanced during spirited driving. It was the perfect compromise between street-friendly cruising comfort and curve-hugging ability. The system makes easy use of the ultra-wide Pirelli tires' added grip.
This modified Porsche was very fun to drive. The power is spectacular but not scary; the suspension is solid but not too stiff; the grip is intoxicating, and the braking performance makes the driving experience feel that much safer--and easier. Even with all that, what I remember most is how this car looked. So wide, so curvaceous, so stylish, I just couldn't stop staring at it.
Author's Note: iForged would like to mention these Web sites: www.996wings.com, www.autometer.com, www.evoms.com, www.fabspeed.com, www.giacusa.com, www.jic-magic.com, www.nitrousexpress.com, www.pirelli.com, www.specclutch.com, www.stoptech.com, www.venicecollision.com