I remember events fairly well, but rarely specific dates. For example, I don’t remember what day my daughter said "Da-da" for the first time, nor when she spoke her first sentence (which was "I want chocolate"). But I think I will remember July 20, 2017, as it was the first time the LS engine in my Porsche 911 roared to life.
Paternal pride is the best way to describe seeing an idea come to life. Elon Musk must feel this way about Tesla and SpaceX, as well as the Wright Brothers when their idea took flight over 100 years ago. The same probably goes for whoever invented the fidget spinner, too. Admittedly, I’m not the first person to LS-swap a Porsche, nor is my creation doing any kind of benefit to mankind — but clearly, I’m beaming with pride.
All of the credit goes to my mechanic, David the car wizard. After assisting him in the crazy process of fitting the LS motor inside the 911 engine bay, I let him figure out how to make everything work. This was quite a mountain to climb, and something that’s often skipped over by TV reality shows with custom builds.
When I purchased my LS engine, it came with all the accessories, as well as the wiring harness, engine computer and throttle pedal. Turns out I didn’t need any of this, as most of the stock accessories were replaced with slimmer ones, the Corvette wiring harness would take too much time to figure out, the ECU would be too expensive to reprogram, and the throttle pedal was broken. This meant I could have saved over $1,000 buying a less complete engine.
With a simpler aftermarket wiring harness and engine computer, the car wizard was able to piece it together with the Porsche components. Both the Chevy and Porsche computer will be working together to run different systems in the car, and the wizard was able to isolate the wires that needed to be spliced together to get the ignition and gauges to function. With fuel lines hooked up, along with an aftermarket fuel-pressure regulator, we were ready to test-run the engine for the first time.
The first few attempts failed, as the wizard needed to find the right wire for the clutch safety switch, as well as a power wire that stayed hot during cranking. With those easy obstacles behind us, the LS V8 quickly roared to life like it’d been living inside the Porsche all its life.
The roar was unbelievably loud. The noise of the idling engine with no exhaust bouncing off the shop’s century-old brick walls made my 911 sound like a Top Fuel dragster. The wizard and I celebrated our major victory — then we continued putting the car back together enough to drop it off the lift and fire it up again. For the first time in months, Apollo 911 moved a few inches under its own power.
Though I’m happy to have the car running, I’m not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel yet. There’s still lots of wiring to figure out, as well as the engine cooling system, an oil cooler setup, marrying the air conditioning lines, installing the electric power steering and fitting some kind of exhaust system. No way am I running straight pipes, as it’s currently loud enough to wake the dead. Making my deadline for Monterey week is going to be a tall order. 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.