987.1 cayman s track build

April 16, 2020 /// issue no. 107

They say to never track a car you aren’t willing to walk away from. Yes, I said that yesterday when we easily spent about $35,000 building out a 996 911. We are going to use many of the same parts for our 987.1 build, but first let’s talk about some random numbers and letters: 987.1 vs. 987.2 and manual vs. PDK.

If you can call this a “budget” build, that’s what our aim is. Porsche made the first Cayman S in 2006 with a 3.4L producing 291hp and 251ft-lb, known to enthusiasts as the 987.1 or gen 1. In 2009, Porsche introduced slight styling changes and a direct fuel injection engine good for 315hp and 273ft-lb out of the same engine displacement. Additionally, the automatic 5-speed was replaced with Porsche’s superb Porsche Doppelkupplung double-clutch transmission.

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Having driven the PDK in anger on a 718 Cayman GTS and 991.1 GT3 RS I can tell you it’s a great transmission and will absolutely make you faster around the track. But I don’t want to own it. I am a weekend warrior not a pro racer. And even if I wanted to eke out every tenth of a second in a time attack, we simply can’t afford it with our fake budget. Whether 6-speed manual or 7-speed PDK, a 987.2 will run us close to the all-in price on our 996 911 track build just for the cost of entry. We’ll take our chances with IMS bearing failure and row our own gears.

A nationwide search of CarGurus yields similar 987.1 prices to the 996 but with more mileage. $20k to $25k seems to be the sweet spot for a 987.1S but we are patient and we are turning this in to a track beater so we’ll settle for the same purchase price of $16,500 as our 996.

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Our 987.1 Cayman S parts list is very similar to the 996 and IMS bearing failures on the M97 engine are rare. The same desire for a low-temp thermostat and X51-style oil baffle apply to the Cayman. Just like the 996, Cantrell Motorsports makes a bolt-in rollbar for the 987 at the same price point. In fact, the 987 has the same front brake calipers as the 996. The only difference in our build is a $40 increase in brake costs for the rear setup and the ability to run a different (read: cheaper) wheel and tire combo. The Hankook RS4 is my Frank Red Hot’s Sauce in tire form and the overall savings of our total-build against a near-identical 996 comes out to $700. This savings is possibly more as cheaper and rather tired donor Caymans seem to be more available than 996s.

Item Price
987.1 S $18,000.00
LN Engineering Low-Temp Thermostat Kit $227.75
LN Engineering X51-style Oil Baffle $349.99
Cantrell Motorsports 987 Rollbar $2,750.00
Schroth Flexi 2x2 FHR $398.72
Sparco Evo Seat $591.50
Brey Krause Seat Brackets $198.45
Sparco R353 Steering Wheel $222.88
OMP Steering Wheel Hub $84.95
Rennline Steering Wheel Quick Release $375.00
APEX SM-10 Staggered Fitments $1,492.60
Hankook RS4 Staggered Fitments $809.26
Motul RBF600 $33.98
G-Loc R10/R8 Brake Pads $396.00
Pagid Brake Rotors $246.75
Tarret Engineering JRZ DE Suspension Kit $5,550.00

So it turns out building a $31,728 987.1S is a lot like building a $32,442 996. If you’ll recall the stats are very similar. Even the drag coefficient on the Cayman is 0.29 to the 911’s 0.30. The aftermarket support for both vehicles is more than healthy. Maybe the only difference is that your non-car friends think the 911 is a better car than the Cayman.

After all this which car should you buy? There is no wrong answer. The 996’s polarizing looks seem to be less polarizing as time goes on. While the 987 is newer and the build quality of the interior is superior, the design isn’t exactly leaps and bounds more impressive than the 996. If it were my money I would pick the 987.1S based on weight distribution, looks, and being easier to drive. I will run out of talent before being able to stretch either of these cars to their full potential and I would rather have the car that makes me feel like a pro.

Coffee time,
Steven


daily automotive addiction.