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Was LS-Swapping My Porsche 911 Worth It?

The highlight of my first week with my newly completed LS-V8 swapped 1999 Porsche 911 was its unveiling at Saturday’s Cars and Coffee — which, coincidentally, had the local Porsche club section as a featured group for the event. Apparently, the local PCA chapter president didn’t want to speak to me, which is to be expected, but overall the response was very positive. Throughout the week of shaking down the car, I’ve noticed a few other fun coincidences with this project, and I’ve fallen in love with the flagship of my hooptie fleet all over again.

For the connoisseur of quirks and features, my 911 has plenty. Obviously, having an American V8 from a 2006 Corvette shoved into the tiny rear end of a 911 is pretty strange-looking — and it’s a very tight fit. Most assume the LS motor weighs dramatically more than the Porsche’s flat six, and therefore they assume it would upset the balance of the car. The truth is, at 450 pounds with all the accessories, the all-aluminum LS2 weighs nearly 50 pounds less than the 3.4-liter flat six and 140 pounds less than an engine out of a 911 Turbo from the same era.

In stock form, my Porsche tips the scales at a skinny 2,910 pounds — almost 500 less than the 911 Turbo (all-wheel drive is the other weight-gain culprit) and 250 pounds less than the Corvette that donated my engine. With the performance intake, cat-free exhaust and performance engine computer, it’s safe to say my LS2 at the very least matches the 415 horsepower of the 911 Turbo. On paper, my car should outrun the C6 and 911 Turbo — but there are some drawbacks.

The center of gravity with the V8 is certainly higher than the flat six. The LS2 motor-mount arm is bolted to the heads of the engine, and it hangs on a mount that’s even with the bottom of the tail lamps. In stock form, all the heavy metal hung well below the lights. I’m not sure if it’s the balance of the engine or the incredible power, but the rear suspension flexes way lower on hard acceleration than before, giving a feeling similar to a speedboat when the hull begins planing above the water.

Solving this issue would require stiffening the suspension, but I’m reluctant to sacrifice my comfortable, grand-touring-style ride quality. Although I doubt hacking into the body (which was needed for the engine to fit) affected the structural rigidity all that much, with the large amount of power putting more stress on the rear structure, it does make me wonder.

Another part that needed portions hacked away was my ducktail rear decklid, which I had installed months before the original Porsche engine grenaded. By fantastic coincidence, the ducktail coupled with my LS engine turned the rear end into a work of art. With the hatch closed, anyone can peek through the mesh grille of the ducktail and see the red Corvette lettering on the decorative fuel rail covers. It also does a great job of dissipating heat from the cramped engine bay.

My aftermarket 1960s-style hot-rod-style tachometer, which I specifically selected to be an offensive mismatch, turned out to have an identically colored needle to the rest of the Porsche gauge cluster, as well as the exact same glow at night. The rest of the Porsche gauges all work exactly as they should by using the original engine computer. The only things vitally important that are covered up by the tachometer are my turn-signal markers — but my mechanic showed his car-wizarding skills by placing a pair of translucent plastic strips atop the turn-signal bulbs, which extend outside the diameter of the tachometer and illuminate when the turn signal is activated. There are probably hundreds of other examples of the wizard’s genius throughout the car — such as two separate OBD diagnostic ports for Corvette components and the leftover Porsche bits — but I’ll probably never find most things.

Amazingly, every electrical accessory works as it did before, with the exception of the cruise control — but that could be solved with an aftermarket setup. Driving the Porsche feels shockingly the same as stock. I can’t get over how civilized my 911 still feels — albeit with a lot more power. It’s a blast to have the massive, rumbling thrust of the V8 pushing from behind, and it makes me want to use another cliche term: It feels like I’m sitting behind a rocket.

This idea made me realize another funny coincidence. I originally named my car Apollo 911, a play on words because it had been driven the equivalent distance from the earth to the moon — but now the name seems even more appropriate. The Saturn V rocket that sent Neil Armstrong to the moon was created by German and American scientists joining forces to achieve something incredible. Let’s hope Apollo 911 lives up to its name — because Apollo 913 doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily. 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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