Just about a year ago, I was involved in an accident in my daily driver tC. Surprisingly, insurance didn’t total it, but I was kind of over the car, so I ended up selling it to the body shop I was going to have repair it. Without a car, I bought the FRS off my father, which I’ve been driving for the last year. In that time, I’ve realized how enjoyable it is to drive, but it’s also highlighted some changes I’d like to make and allowed me to develop ideas for some personal touches.
As I probably mentioned before, I love Porsches, especially the old aircooled hotrod 911s. For a while (well, I still am here and there), I was looking to buy a Porsche, but after looking at the finances that would probably be involved, I had to convince myself that now wasn’t the best time to purchase one (sigh.. 😩). But spending all that time around badass 911s at work, events, and just searching for or following cars on social media and forum build threads has instead given me a lot of inspiration for the direction I wanted to take with the FRS.
So, you might be thinking, what’s a hotrod 911? Well, it looks something like this…
A few characteristics:
No aero. Aside from some duck tail spoilers, the cars keep their factory appearance. The whole premise of the hotrod 911 revolves around a lightweight approach to tuning. This is the same approach I’m going to take on the FRS. Like the Porsche 911, I’d argue that the body lines of the FRS are classic (it helps the 2000GT was the inspiration for the design and proportions) and the car doesn’t need any ridiculous body or lip kits (including widebody or overfender kits), overkill GT wings, or insane time attack aero, especially if it’s just going to be a street car. The only exterior mods I have planned are a sharkfin antenna and 5Axis trunk spoiler. In my opinion, the car doesn’t need anything else.
Tweaked suspension. Involved with a company in the business, I can say there’s a lot of suspension options for 911s. There are packages for people who wish to keep the torsion bar setup and for those that want to convert to coilovers. There are solutions for people who want to keep the factory ride quality, people who want to turn up the stiffness to 11, and the guys building the hotrods which typically fall in-between these extremes. Since my goal is a street car, I see no need to go with a full polyurethane bushed suspension and super stiff coilovers, but I will be addressing some key points such as revalving my Bilstein B14s and coverting to linear Hyperco springs (to replace the progressive springs), adding spherical upper mounts that will increase suspension travel, upgrading to some redesigned suspension bolts from the ’15+ GT86 and BRZ tS, correcting the roll center geometry, and addressing some deflection points in the chassis and suspension. Since I already have a lightweight wheel and tire package as well as the AP Racing brakes, I won’t be changing anything in those areas.
Massaged engine. There are a tons of options from fuel injection, to bigger carbs, to engine swaps from in almost every flavor of displacement from 2 to 4 liters. The possibilities are endless, it all depends on your budget. But the end game is all about response and overall balance with the car as a whole, not necessarily raw power. Now, unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of options when it comes to the FRS. If you want more power than bolt-ons offer (which really isn’t much), it basically comes down to some form of forced induction and engine swaps. However, these choices don’t really reflect the mantra of the hotrod Porsches I’m inspired by, so I’m considering an N/A build. I’m not sure yet if I want to do a 2.1L build or leave the motor mostly stock for reliability sake. For now though, I’m looking at the Jackson Racing NA oil cooler kit, STi axles, and a DSS carbon driveshaft. I’d really like to do a header and tune, but until I live in a state not controlled by smog nazis and enforced by cops with nothing better to do, I don’t really want to mess with obvious emissions changes. I will probably be able to fly under the radar with built internals, but what good is that without being able to tune?
Spartan interior. Hotrod 911s take Porsche’s focus of being driver’s cars to the next level. The emphasis remains minimal weight and distractions. Often you’ll find just a thin layer of carpet (or none at all; and sound deadening? what’s that?), a backseat that no longer exists (and sometimes replaced with a roll bar), bucket seats, no radio and other creature comforts, lightweight (RS) door cards with pull straps, and a sports steering wheel. Since the FRS is going to stay a street car, I’m not going to delete the AC or radio, rip out the interior panels, and put a roll bar in (although I’ve thought very hard about it, haha). However, I have plans to order Recaro Sportster CS seats and customize them with a unique tartan fabric, replace the door handles with pull straps like those found on the GT4 and new 911R, and replace the steering wheel with the TRD Momo wheel and GT86 airbag cover. I’ve also thought about replacing the black seat belts with red ones (like you can have optioned on new 911s), but I’m not sure how or if that’s possible. The overall goal is a sporty, yet comfortable, classic street styled interior.
So, that’s basically where I see the FRS going in 2016, and in January, version 1.1 began. Version 1.1 is mostly a refresh build implementing the some of the changes I outlined above, but will also address some smaller details.
So what’s on tap for 1.1?
Paint. Unfortunately, since purchase, the FRS has been designated as an “outdoor car,” and has experienced the brunt of California’s “brutal” elements. In just 3 short years, the headlights have UV damage, the tail lights have condensation again (replaced once under a TSB), and the paint…well, I don’t have any words for the paint. A couple weeks ago, I took the FRS to Bob at Auto Concierge in Fremont where he verified my gut feeling about the paint condition on the car. The paint is in horrible shape, but also mostly a mystery. After trying two different paint depth gauges, Bob was unable to get a solid reading on the paint. Since I intend to keep the car, I decided to just have it done right and invest in a quality paint job. Also, circumstances have changed and I’ll have access to a garage, which means I can finally have a covered place to keep the car. So, the car will be painted and I’ll be staying with the red (Firestorm). As nice as a color change would be (I wouldn’t mind Ferrari Fly Yellow or Albertblau), a full paint is more involved than I’d like to get right now. It’s just going to be an exterior refresh for now. I will only consider a full change when I take the car down to bare metal to do it right. That’ll happen maybe in 30 years… haha.
New FRS headlights. I opted not to get the OEM GT86 headlights because I’m not sold on the LED DRLs. I’ve seen newer cars with burnt out LEDs already and it isn’t a great look. Plus, the halogens on the FRS are similar to the headlights found on the Levin and I’m all about keeping it classic (and simple).
JDM tail lights. It may seem incredibly insignificant, but the clear/chrome tail lights in Europe and Asia are visually much better than the US spec ones which require a red reflector.
New front bumper. My dad managed to scrape up the front bumper pretty badly when he was driving the car, so I figured it would be the same or cheaper to get a new bumper than pay for the labor of smoothing out the original bumper.
Miscellaneous bulbs. I picked up some LED bulbs for the headlights and chrome TRD winker bulbs to replace the orange bulbs in the turn signals. Again, mostly an OCD thing like the JDM tails.
5Axis rear trunk spoiler. I picked one up a couple years ago, but I began having issues with the adhesive, so I pulled it off. I’ll get it installed correctly after paint.
Debadge. I’ve seen some Porsche owners paint or put a sticker of the Porsche logo crest on their cars and I kinda like the look, so I’m considering painting the Toyota badge on the front. The rear trunk handle will be debadged and have the holes filled prior to paint. I may leave the FRS badge where it is, but I’m also thinking about having something custom done on the 5Axis spoiler kinda like the Fairlady Z432.
TRD trunk aero cover. For the practical reason of keeping leaves and other debris out of my trunk.
TRD shark fin antenna. Basically for cosmetic reasons, but after receiving it, I’m not sold on the look. It’s a lot bigger than I expected. Part of me wants to get rid of the antenna entirely since I don’t listen to the radio and replace the entire roof with a dry carbon one from Esprit or Revolution, but I’m not sure I want to get that involved and start messing with the structural safety of a car that isn’t a dedicated race car.
TRD door stabilizers. This was a curiosity purchase. The theory is that a spacer fills the gap in the door striker area, providing quicker steering response by cutting down the delay from when the steering wheel is turned. I wanted to test the product and see if there was any substance to the claim.
TRD Momo steering wheel and JDM GT86 airbag cover. No real explanation other than I wanted them, haha.
So far, I’ve accumulated most of the parts listed above and the car is almost ready to go to paint. I’m just waiting on the JDM tails and TRD steering wheel to arrive. The seats, suspension, and engine/drivetrain products will come later in the year. Basically my goal is a fun, sporty street car tuned in a classic, timeless style. We’ll see how it all comes together…