Since kicking off Project Carrera GT3 in the August 2006 issue, our 2000 911 has made a complete transformation. What once was a bone stock C2 is now the mirror image of a factory-built 996 GT3. Only those closely familiar with the GT3 will notice the slightest of differences. Even GT3 owner Michael Leary, whose 2004 model is pictured alongside ours, was impressed. He could only point to a few subtle exterior differences such as the sunroof (not an option on 996 GT3s), a slight difference in ride height, brakes and exhaust tips. All other visuals are right on cue, thanks to the exclusive use of Tequipment, Porsche's line of factory-engineered parts and accessories.
The Aero Cup I package is the intended styling kit for the pre-facelift 996 (1999-01). However, we opted for the revised Aero Cup II (2002-05) for a more updated look. This meant first adopting the facelift treatment, which included swapping out the front fenders and headlamps for the more bulbous teardrop Litronic units. It is important to note that Porsche does not recommend or endorse this type of cross-year alteration, but we found everything bolted on with no problems.
Naturally for 996 models 2002 or newer, the package simply replaces existing components with the addition of the side skirts and minus the extra fuss. The complete installation was handled by certified factory-trained Porsche technicians, while the paint and body and application of the aero kit was expertly performed by the collision and repair center at McKenna Porsche in Norwalk, California.
Wind tunnel-developed for competition use, the Aero Cup II consists of a modified front apron, matching side skirts, rear deck, and of course that characteristic fixed rear wing. Each component is made of durable polyurethane, except for the deck and wing, which are lightweight pressed fiberglass.
In addition to its aesthetic appeal, the package is designed to effectively increase downforce at the front and rear, thanks to the lower front apron and bi-plane wing. The front bumper, which incorporates a splitter, also features wider intakes for greater airflow capacity.
The package utilizes the stock rear bumper from '02 or newer models, which perfectly coincides with the design architecture. Since we have a pre-facelift model, which also has the older-style rear bumper, we opted for a European rear with the bumper pad delete. It also blends with the Aero Cup II and provides a more seamless, uninterrupted look.
Utilizing a proven strut/multi-link suspension, the Carrera is a staunch performer in stock trim. The Tequipment Sport Package just takes it a step further. While not as aggressive as the GT3 race-ready coilover set-up, the package features stiffer springs, recalibrated shocks and larger 10mm anti-roll bars (front and rear) plus firmer bump and rebound on all four dampers. The shorter springs also give the car a new lower center of gravity by roughly one inch. It's not quite as stiff or low as a GT3, which sits about 1.5 inches lower than the standard 911, but the package does provide a noticeable increase in body rigidity and overall stability, in addition to a more aggressive stance. True to the project theme, the car rides on a set of Porsche GT3 alloy wheels (8.5x18 front and 11x18 rear) with Bridgestone Potenza (235/40ZR18 and 295/30ZR18) performance rubber, providing an increase in traction.
Stock calipers with replacement cross-drilled and vented 12.5-inch front rotors and a set of Tequipment sport pads don't quite match the performance of Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes, but neither does the price. The sport pad compound is formulated for greater durability and reliability over a wider range of temperatures compared to standard units, providing less brake fade and better wear resistance. If money was no object, then naturally a set of Big Reds or the PCCBs is the way to go.