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Was It a Mistake to LS-Swap My Porsche 911?

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Used 1999 Porsche 911 Coupe
Used 1999 Porsche 911
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author photo by Tyler Hoover August 2017

Today, I drove my Porsche for the first time in nearly four months. It was insanely loud, and lots of fun -- while terrifying at the same time. The driving experience barely resembled the car I fell in love with; the car I proclaimed the flagship of my fleet. This led to a gut-punch revelation: Was LS-swapping my Porsche a mistake?

The best part about my 911 before its engine failure was the practicality. It was a fun car that I could drive every day, even though it stirred roughly the same emotions that recently caused a Chinese man to marry a robot he built for himself. Driving my 911 used to feel like I was Fred Astaire dancing with Ginger Rogers, but now I feel like a cowboy riding an angry bull.

Admittedly, while my car is drivable, it's far from finished. The engine still lacks an exhaust system, making it ridiculously loud. While reviewing the footage from today's video, I wasn't surprised to see the camera shaking violently with each thundering pass. Once this situation is rectified, I'm sure the car will seem a lot more civilized. Along with the exhaust, there are still other problems the car wizard has to solve, like routing the air conditioning system, getting the tachometer to work and more hacking.

The most disturbing part of this swap, for me, was something I never found on the conversion company's website: the amount of hacking required to modify the body so the LS V8 would fit. About three-quarters of one section in the rear-end framing needed to be cut away, and now the car wizard tells me that he's cutting an access panel from inside the cabin so he can fix a leak from the oil pressure sender. Even though the wizard reinforced the rear-end with a steel plate and the access panel will be invisible under the carpet, it still makes me cringe.

Another thing not noted by the conversion supplier was the huge amount of parts needed in addition to the kit -- and the lack of detailed directions. This will add up to many thousands of dollars in extra parts and labor, as the wizard was left to figure out a lot of these things himself. Considering this company does so many of these conversions, I find it puzzling that they can't give more helpful directions. With these custom builds, it's common for people to do things their own way -- but it would be nice to at least have a blueprint to deviate from. Admittedly, the parts that are provided in the kit seem to be of excellent quality, and one huge improvement is the feeling of the custom clutch and the Corvette throttle pedal.

With that said, at this point -- after several months have passed, and I've spent thousands more than I expected -- I can't help but feel a little disappointed in my decision. Still, it's hard to complain after that exhilarating test drive. I'll reserve my final judgment for when it's completely finished, and I hope the wizard can tame this rear-mounted dragon enough to recapture the magic that made me initially love my 911. Obviously, this means my Porsche won't be finished in time to drive to this week's automotive festivities in Monterey, California, but don't worry -- I decided to buy something out there to make up for it. Stay tuned ...

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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Used 1999 Porsche 911 Coupe
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Was It a Mistake to LS-Swap My Porsche 911? - Autotrader