Four years ago, Craig Marcus was a different man than he is today. That was before he bought the 2002 Porsche 996TT X50 that changed his life. Prior to that, the Century City, Calif., attorney had no real history with cars. "I always liked fast cars," he said, "but other people's fast cars. I never had one of my own, at least nothing like the Porsche. Now, my car is more modified than all but probably two or three street Porsches in the country. I've kind of gone overboard." Upgrade has followed upgrade as the car underwent a metamorphosis similar to that of its owner.
Marcus said his original intention was to do only a chip, but we all know where roads paved with good intentions lead. "Initially I didn't have a plan," he admitted. "I got the exhaust at one place, the wheels at another, had a guy do the programming and that was that. When I drove it I realized I wanted more."
The sleek black 996TT became what he calls a joint venture among three prominent Porsche tuners, each playing an essential role in the project. Speed Gallery in Studio City, Calif., assembled and maintains the car, while Imagine Auto of Lenexa, Kan., built the engine and Evolution Motorsports in Tempe, Ariz., provided many performance components.
"Speed Gallery is run by a guy named Dan Aspesi who has Porsche in his blood," Marcus said. "He's been working on these cars for a zillion years, and that's why I chose him, he really knows them. There were some components from other tuners I wanted to use, but he did all the work." When time came to rebuild the engine, Marcus went to Imagine for the company's experience with 996 Turbos. Now that he's upgrading the top end, Evolution is getting the job.
"Given the kind of boost I'm running and the kind of power I'm making, I'm concerned about blowing head gaskets," he explained. "So I'm reinforcing the top end, changing the pistons, the head gaskets and the exhaust camshafts, and porting, polishing and flowing the heads to get more air. It's all about getting more air."
Marcus guesstimates total output at more than 950 bhp, with torque figures in the same numeric neighborhood. He runs 28 psi of boost and pumps his own 104-octane gas at home. He hasn't done a recent zero-to-60 clocking, but figures it would be three seconds or less, because the last one, two sets of mods ago, registered 3.1.
Where does all the power come from? Well, the 3.6-liter flat six is now pressurized by twin Evolution Motorsports GT800 turbos, with Garrett GT30 compressors and K24 turbine wheels, and sports a custom GIAC Chipswitch with programming for valet use as well as 91- and 103-octane fuel. Bosch/Siemens 720cc high-flow injectors are fed by a high-pressure Bosch pump, and there's a boost-actuated Aquamist methanol/water direct injection system. There's also a Gemballa sport air intake system, an Evolution Motorsports V-Flow intake box and Innovative Pro Design's aluminum intake plenum. GT2 intercoolers with Innovative Pro Design-modified end tanks and piping help cool the charge, and once combustion has had its moment, the exhaust gases return to the turbos through Evolution Motorsports stainless-steel headers, then out through a Fast Intentions custom exhaust with Ultra-Light racing mufflers.
The six-speed Tiptronic is about all that remains of the original X50 package, and it's had an Evolution Motorsports upgrade with carbon clutches and increased stall speed for the torque converter. Underneath are double adjustable JRZ RS racing shocks with separate settings for street and track, Eibach springs and Turbo Performance Center anti-roll bars. Stopping power is provided by 14-inch Brembo/Evolution brakes with cross-drilled rotors and ceramic pads. Despite the massive mechanical modifications, the car still looks fairly stock, with only its GT2 wing and a TechArt Type II front bumper hinting at its performance potential.
"When I first got the car," Marcus continued, "even though I'd done several performance upgrades, I resisted doing any body work, because I was all about go and not show. What prompted me to do the wing was changing the intake system. The new system involved the intake box underneath the rear decklid, and the GT2 wing, as opposed to the stock setup, sucks in more air. That led me to doing the front end as well, because I thought I can't have this cool wing on the rear without some sort of modified front. The other side of the issue was I was told I might have an aerodynamic imbalance."