The title to this article alone is so satisfying that I could probably write nothing else and get away with it — but Autotrader pays me to write things, so I guess I’ll type a bit more. Yes, I’ve decided to LS swap my 1999 Porsche 911 — and no, I haven’t lost my marbles. It actually makes a lot of sense.
In my last post, I detailed the demise of my Porsche’s engine at 248,000 miles. I named it Apollo 911 because of its lunar distance achieved on the odometer — something almost unheard of from a Porsche of this era. I distinguished myself in the Porsche community as one of the few advocates for this notorious engine, with my car being exhibit A to every argument. My first test showed strong dyno readings, then another showed good compression. My final successful challenge showed respectable quarter mile times. Then, I decided to try a track day, which completely killed the engine.
Suddenly, I was no longer the golden boy for 996 fans. Knowing the engine was terminal and hastening its demise also provoked the ire of some. In my mind, it didn’t matter. Whatever was internally wrong with the engine before it completely failed would have necessitated a complete rebuild anyway, especially on an engine with 248,000 miles.
Now that I’ve alienated part of my audience, I guess I’m seeking out a whole new batch of folks with my decision. "LS swap it" is a very tired joke with car blogs any time any car has any sort of engine problem, simply because LS swaps are so common — but in this case, it makes total sense. I sourced a 50,000-mile LS2 engine from a 2007 Chevrolet Corvette, which has 400 horsepower — very close to horsepower of a 911 Turbo from the same era. And being all aluminum, the LS2 weighs nearly the same as the stock motor.
I know what you’re thinking: Figuring out how to fit a V8 in the same space as a flat 6 will be nightmare — and it’ll be ridiculously expensive to custom-fabricate all the bits to make it work. Fortunately, a Las Vegas-based company named Renegade Hybrids has it all figured out. They first became famous for creating a kit to swap Chevy LT1 engines into Porsche 944s, and over the years they’ve created kits for several other vehicles — including one for my 911.
Renegade has built several 911/LS conversions, and it sells a complete kit to make the 996 chassis seamlessly accept an American heart transplant — right down to instructions on how to adapt the factory wiring for the Porsche gauges to work with the LS engine. Swapping a used engine is ideal, as often you get all the accessories, the wiring harness and the engine computer, all of which is needed for the conversion.
As the build starts, I’ll do my best to document all the intricacies of the conversion. I’m sure it will be a very labor intensive — but I’m also sure it’s a worthwhile project, as the total cost of the engine and conversion kit was a little over $10,000 — which also happens to be the cost of a thorough engine rebuild. Another bonus: even though my old motor is completely shot, I’ve already sold it for $1,500 as a complete rebuildable core — which should fund the bulk of the labor cost.
For those thinking I’m ruining my Porsche’s value, a 911 from this era is already very cheap. More importantly, a few good conversions have sold in recent years — and they fetched thousands more than a comparable stock example due to their improved reliability and engine performance. So if I ever sell Apollo 911, I’d likely recoup more of my investment with an LS swap than I would if I opted for a traditional rebuild.
It will be a few weeks before the conversion kit arrives — and probably another month before it’s done — but I’m already excited to get my Porsche back on the road. A friend told me the name Apollo 911 no longer applies — and that bummed me out. Then I remembered General Motors gave Apollo astronauts new Corvettes after a completing their space journey. Apollo 911 made it the distance to the moon — so at the very least it deserves a Corvette engine. Right?! 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.