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An Idiot’s Guide to LS-Swapping a Porsche 911: Part 1

I used to gripe about car enthusiasts who never finished their projects. Over the years, I’ve seen so many great cars disassembled into a thousand pieces in hopes of some grand plan — and then completely abandoned. Why do so many people tear a car apart without the plans or the budget needed to put it back together? I never understood this phenomenon … until now.

My 1999 Porsche 911 is in a thousand pieces. I’ve joked about being crazy plenty of times, but now I actually believe it. After foolishly blowing the motor after a track day, I made the decision swap a Corvette LS V8 into my 911.

Before I completely lost my marbles, I was starting to make a name for myself as an evangelist for the Porsche 996 platform. My car is named Apollo 911, since it had 243,000 miles when I purchased it, which is roughly the distance from the earth to the moon. It had been published in various media, and my stories served as a counterpoint to the naysayers screaming about the infamous IMS bearing. Then I blew up my engine and slapped enthusiasts in the face with my decision to ditch the Porsche engine.

To make the unlikely pairing possible, an outfit called Renegade Hybrids creates a kit with all the items necessary for the swap. It took six weeks for these made-to-order parts to arrive. Once all the bits were here, I told my mechanic, the car wizard, that I was hoping the swap would be finished by mid-August, in time for me to drive my Porsche to Monterey Car Week, the California automotive festivities that conclude with the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. He was doubtful, since he was just getting back from vacation, and he had lots of cars that needed his wizardry. To help get things finished sooner, I floated the idea of me helping with the project. Once he finally quit laughing, the car wizard accepted my help.

The first step was unboxing the kit and taking inventory of the parts. The conversion company provides lots of pictures and videos explaining how everything goes together, as well as live technical support — but very few written instructions. I would guess they didn’t create a step-by-step guide to prevent their kit from being easily copied. The custom machined components appear to be high-quality, and the slimmer accessories give the LS V8 a prayer of fitting.

After the unboxing ceremony, I was tasked with removing the engine. I had never removed an engine before — and until this point, the most work I had ever done to my Porsche was changing a brake bulb. Again, I was nuts to try this.

Thankfully, the car wizard was right by my side if I had issues. I carefully worked my way through the top of the engine, disconnecting the throttle cable, wiring harnesses, coolant hoses, fuel delivery, AC lines and plenty of other things I can’t remember. I then used a lift to get under the car, removing the bumper and all the chassis bracing, along with all the bits attached to the transmission.

With everything out of the way, the car wizard unbolted the engine and lowered my dead flat-6 out of the car. I smiled for a photo next to what what I had accomplished, but inside, I was terrified. Getting the engine out was the easiest part; I have no idea how this is all going back together. It looks impossible — but when you break it into little parts, it seems like less of a mountain. Just one foot in front of the other… Find a 1999 Porsche 911 for sale

Tyler Hoover went broke after 10 years in the car business and now sells hamburgers to support his fleet of needy cars. He lives in Wichita, Kansas.

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