Sharkwerks decided that Porsche did a magnificent job of suspension tuning right out of the box on the RS so the only real change to the chassis was in running stock. The factory wheels were replaced with a set of HRE C-21s measuring 8.5 inches wide in front and a full foot wide out back. The amount of grip is breathtaking, quite literally at times. Luckily, the interior is equipped with 996 GT2 seats, which live a tough life holding the driver in place during hard cornering. Supplementing seat support during braking is a set of Schroth six-point belts. They are mounted on a BK harness bar, behind the seats, resembling an artist's sculpture more than a structural piece. We're sure the piece is exceptionally strong, but we're never completely comfortable with anything resembling a futuristic, weight-optimized guillotine perched right behind our necks.

The RS is as close to an air-cooled Porsche you'll find in the current showroom. Fans of the old cars will likely be won over after a few minutes in one of these. This one from Sharkwerks gets even closer with its raucous sound, pure handling and explosive power. The RS takes us back to simpler, more focused Porsches of the past.

In the current lineup, a stock Cayman S, while an incredible car, is not something that rear-engine air-cooled aficionados usually lust after. Lack of a real edge, dulled reflexes and relative lack or power are just a few of the complaints. The real reason they don't like them however may be less obvious. With performance demands for the 911 becoming ever greater, there may come a time where the rear-engine design may become too great a physics challenge, and eventually Porsche may have to adopt the mid-engine layout for its flagship model. Porschephiles cringe at the very thought, but the Cayman my foreshadow future 911s. It wouldn't be unheard of; the GT1 was perhaps the ultimate incarnation 911 and it used its mid-engine layout for maximum efficiency in weight distribution and aerodynamics.

The white Cayman S you see here makes great strides in convincing the non-believers that a mid-engine car may be able to take the place of the venerable rear-engine car. Sharkwerks has turned what can be considered the tame Porsche into something any club racer would happily drive. In conjunction with Evolution Motorsports and Road Sport Supply (RSS), an engine tuning program was put in place to bring it up to more respectable levels. For more power, an IPD plenum was used in conjunction with an EVO V-Flow intake and a factory GT3 throttle body to improve incoming velocity. RSS also supplied a full Cargraphic exhaust to improve things on the back end of the combustion process. An EVO software flash to tie up power and efficiency came next. A Sharkwerks lightweight flywheel and ESR pulley make sure the power gets to the road and give the drivetrain a little more snap.

That extra power fully utilizes the chassis modifications. Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, H&R sway bars get the car lower down and flattened out during cornering. Champion RG5 wheels, 18-inch, are wrapped in Toyo R-compound tires and sit on top of a Brembo F50 brake kit.

Driving the Cayman is a very different experience than driving the RS, yet the family genes are still apparent. The Cayman rotates fast and you hear and feel the engine winding out right behind your vertebrae. The cornering forces pull the back of your seat, completely different from a 911, which feels more like sitting in the forward half of a rocket. Even with the big differences in dynamics, the feedback and urgency of the controls are very similar. While the RS feels sharper and more intimate, the Cayman shares the precision and solidity you expect from a Porsche sports car. Rotating the steering wheel results in instantaneous bite. You don't feel the chassis load up and twist as you react. It is rigid and responsive, things future Porsches will hopefully never lose no matter what happens with chassis layouts in the future.

By Michael Febbo
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