There are only a few tuning houses around the world that honestly try and provide serious customers with a complete menu of major upgrades to already-great Porsches. TechArt in Leonberg, Germany, is up there with (some would say beyond) Ruf and Gemballa and 9ff in regards to the home field aftermarket. Every time I show up at the central offices, I am wowed by what I try, be it by the interior treatment, engine upgrades, unsprung weight arrangement, or exterior aero eye candy. I can always tell that TechArt is still having fun while running a tight business.
After flying around Baden-Wrttemberg this past spring in the GTstreet coupe and cabriolet, I vowed to return to TechArt just as soon as the 997 GTstreet RS was ready. Based on the GT2, horsepower escalates from 523 at 6500 rpm to 691 at 7000 revs, and 501 lb-ft of torque between 2200 and 4500 here becomes 634 lb-ft peaking at 4500, with almost all of it available from 3300 to 5400 rpm. Estimated acceleration time to 62 mph for the factory GT2 sits at 3.7 seconds while the GTstreet RS improves that to 3.4. Finally, the factory GT2 hits 125 mph in a claimed 11.2 seconds. My GTstreet RS does the same dash in 9.9 seconds. I win.
Just to get it all out in the open, TechArt hasn't altered the natural GT2 ride height one millimeter, nor has wheel camber been futzed with, and even the 9.0:1 compression ratio is spot on with factory spec despite the spike in max boost. Everything else has been touched or clobbered.
Before launching, let's get comfy in the two-top cabin. TechArt does the very best aftermarket Porsche interiors that exist, or basically the best Porsche interiors period. Having witnessed the saddlery at work a few times, no one approaches TechArt's level of leather and Alcantara perfection. In the most general of terms, if you took the very best and most interesting Audi interior and applied it to a 911 you'd be getting close, but it's even better than that. Notice the TechArt trademark of matching the color of the interior stitching, seat belts, and brake calipers.
Seating for the GTstreet RS are completely re-skinned GT2 performance buckets with their lightweight carbon fiber construction and manual fore-aft operation (to save weight, lazy ass). These high-sided performance seats are glove-like and encourage me to drive the car to its limits as soon as all circulatory fluids are sufficiently hot. What fun to feel that tight yet comfortable fit and the no-slip Alcantara clinging to my rear thighs and back. Flicking the Alcantara-covered six-speed shifter is like reaching for a rigid Beanie Baby. And then the Alcantara steering wheel grab spots--can they knit me a pair of Alcantara underwear? More purchase for my jewels.
Though the GT2 is a debatable every-day driver for any male executive, it is the current finest super-exotic package out of any major manufacturer, save perhaps the Ferrari 430 Scuderia. The GTstreet RS upgrades take the GT2 a notch above the Ferrari in my book of notches. I can still relish driving it every day while also still driving it bloody hard when I choose. Not having the optional bolt-in half cage also renders this GT2 a cargo space champion. The knowledge that those two rear passenger plinths are no longer there makes the Porsche GT experience the best of all 911s.
TechArt pumps up maximum boost pressure from each modified KKK-BorgWarner VTG turbo to 23.9 psi, compared to the standard GT2's estimated 20.3-psi max. TechArt also assures me that they worked directly with KKK-BorgWarner in redesigning the enhanced cross section of the turbocharger intake side and exit path for better breathing of cooler air thanks to two larger intercoolers behind the wide-mouth front intakes.
With this added swoosh from the turbos, all I need to make sure of is that I'm keeping revs in the higher sweet zone between 3300 and 5400 where I can benefit from at least 590 pound-feet of torque spitting through the rear axle. Hence the most impressive mid-range performance where the GTstreet RS really puts distance between it and the factory car.
But is it controllable? I actually do not mind at all the PASM of the new GT2, no matter that open-shirted hot shots try and shame me for it. While I miss it, however, I also like straightforward hands-on adjustable coilovers. The default screw set for the ten-setting Bilsteins on my car here (the chassis has been threaded to take them) was just right for top speed hauls over the local autobahn and sturdy enough reactions through the tight curves. Having specially formulated 20-inch Michelin Pilot Sport Cup Plus tires on slightly offset Formula III forged alloys made everything better over the typically yogurt-smooth German roads. Any rough stuff and you feel it, whining like a prom princess.
I'll just leave at saying that I backed off at 195 mph while I still had 20 or so mph to go. Those few cars and trucks on the autobahn were blipping past so damned quickly that I couldn't risk some Oktoberfest drunkard in lederhosen choosing the fast lane. The sensation is amazing because the overall fore-aft stability provided by the GTstreet RS full carbon fiber aero package is stunning. Whereas every single 911-bodied Porsche at some point gets lighter in the nose, TechArt has removed all of this tendency with the new nose piece, front hood, roof spoiler, diffuser, rear wing, and side blisters, all working in perfect harmony to hold things steady over the pavement while not creating too much wind resistance.
The utterly orgasmic rear wing has an adjustable range of roughly ten degrees and 6/10 of an inch up and down within the side brackets. For my drive, the wing was up at its highest and had a plus-3-degree setting, striking a happy medium of downforce and slipperiness. This cheese cutter is 51.2 inches wide and the best looker in the aftermarket business. The other showpiece is the carbon-fiber front hood that smooths airflow over the hood/windshield seam and provides added downforce at a point where airflow is usually unmanaged or wasted. The hood weighs 11.5 pounds, or 33 percent less than the standard GT2 hood panel.
Bored with strictly using the Nrburgring Nordschliefe as the barometer of success, TechArt quotes a lap time of the 1.67-mile shorter circuit at the Hockenheimring of 1.06:811. A standard GT2 does the same in 1.09:700 and a Carrera GT in 1.08:600.
Oh yes, I win.
While you and I were growing our hair and feeling as though we were rocking out maximally to Bon Jovi's "Living On a Prayer," Thomas Behringer and Matthias Krauss were formulating their plot to take over the world of aftermarket German fun.
Behringer was the geeky economics student and Krauss was the geeky engineer. They met during university studies while both were interning at Gemballa. At some point in late 1986, the two turned to one another over a steaming plate of bratwurst and agreed that the way Gemballa was doing this was not the way to do it.
Behringer in particular had always wanted his own business. "We started out in 1987 doing interiors and car stereo loudspeaker panels," he says. "We were also very quickly on to custom wheels and finer leatherwork for Mercedes and other marques." This explains a lot as to why both TechArt wheels and interiors are considered by many to be the best in the world of Porsche.
The first Porsche treatment was put together using a 1988 928 S4 with a set of custom BBS wheels, a rear spoiler, and a performance exhaust system. Then quickly came a similar aesthetic upgrade package for the 944 Turbo. Porsche was beginning to take notice of the small firm's handiwork and, as Behringer puts it: "Honestly, both Matthias and I only really wanted to work on Porsche. It was a boy's dream maybe."
In 1989 came the big deal. The 964 Carrera 4 was a very narrow car and TechArt wanted to lend it some presence. They gave one a wide body treatment with seamlessly crafted steel fender flares at all corners, and the package sold more than 400 units. Such successes carried on until a financially bottomed-out Porsche approached TechArt in 1993 to help create a formal aftermarket accessory program. Thus began the initial Tequipment effort from Porsche, all of it executed to spec by TechArt.
Then times got really bad for Porsche in '94 and '95. "We returned in a big way to our interior expertise," Behringer says. Remember the dawn of cell phone consoles in premium cars for guys who thought they were Joey on Friends? You can thank these awful early in-car solutions for supplementing TechArt's bank account while Porsche tried to get its shit together. "Yes, those were everywhere here," Behringer says sheepishly.
TechArt's first year in the United States was under the old company German Tech out of Florida. Soon after that, German Tech was consolidated with the Claus Ettensberger Corporation and CEC acquired its exclusive rights to all North American distribution for the brand. Late in the 1990s things really took off, as they did also for Porsche, with the original Boxster boom and the introduction of the 996 911.
"With 40 percent of Porsche business basically still happening in North America," Behringer says, "we are more interested each year with building our business there." Unfortunately the exquisite saddlery work done on Porsche interiors at the home office in Leonberg will never be available directly in North America until CEC or someone else invests in such a possibility Stateside. It'd be worth it.
Today, 40 percent of TechArt business is in wheel sets, 40 percent in exterior aero pieces, and 20 percent in exhaust systems. "The key to the profitability of these packages," says Behringer, "is the ease of installation while maintaining the best quality." In 2007, TechArt's turnover was $22 million and for 2008 that number looks to improve to $28 million. "Globalization has been great for our business," Behringer adds. "The number one market for growth right now is Russia and the TechArt international parts distribution business is booming." --MD
TechArt GTstreet RS
Longitudinal rear engine, rear-wheel drive
3.6-liter flat six, dohc, 24-valve. Twin KKK-BorgWarner VTG turbochargers (23.9 psi max boost) and two large intercoolers, TechArt sport air filter, competition exhaust manifolds, modified software
10-setting adjustable Bilstein coilover dampers
Porsche PCCB assemblies
*Wheels and Tires
TechArt Formula III, 8.5x20 (f), 12x20 (r)
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup Plus, 245/30 (f), 315/25 (r)
Carbon-fiber front splitter and rear diffuser, roof spoiler, front hood, sill panels, rear wing and supports, and side "flics"
Complete leather/Alcantara upholstery, "GTstreet RS" stitching
Peak Power: 691 hp @ 7000 rpmPeak Torque: 634 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm0-62 mph: 3.4 sec.Top Speed: 217 mph*TechArt data
Claus Ettensberger Corp.