- Post is under moderationPorsche 944 Evo
The 1980s 944 may have not have been as critically acclaimed as the 911, but this one can certainly eat more than a couple for breakfast.
RETRO RIDE: PORSCHE 944 TURBO. WORDS: Daniel Bevis. PHOTOGRAPHY: Ben Hoskin.
TIME LAPS Ill-informed bores have been slagging off the Porsche 944 for far too long. It’s time for someone to redress the balance…
Old skool 8-valve lump is modified to perfection… although Patrick is building a newer 16-valve unit as we speak.
In this world nothing can be said to be certain,” said Benjamin Franklin, “except death and taxes”. That’s what’s known as an immutable constant, a perennial given. But his scope isn’t really broad enough, is it? The universe is packed with such generalisations, harnessing received wisdom to propagate the myths of pseudo-truism. Dropped toast always lands butter-side-down, cats always land on their feet, decrepit billionaires always have hot young wives with plastic embellishments… and, as any ill-informed pub bore will tell you, the 911 is the only Porsche worth having.
These are the sort of dumbwads who’ll gleefully refer to any other model from the marque’s history as a ‘poor man’s Porsche’ – surely one of the most execrable phrases a person can utter. It’s absurd. The new Cayman GT4 could tan many a contemporary 911’s backside all day long, and this behaviour resonates through Stuttgart history. The much-maligned 924, for example, was actually a peach of a thing with a gorgeous chassis. (And if that pub bore berk uses the phrase ‘van engine’, be sure to grab him by the hair and rub his face in the complementary peanuts.) Its successor, the 944, was rather a rum cove too; a luxury-sports poppet with lusty, bigcapacity four-bangers and oodles of puppylike eagerness. It fairly strained at the leash to go horizon-chasing.
Of course, there will always be naysayers and negative nellies. The 911 fanciers (you know, the ones who’ve never actually driven them but have seen them on Top Gear) will still want to put the boot in to the poor, misunderstood 944. But sod that – life’s too short for that sort of negativity, so we’re cranking this argument up to the next level: behold, the Porsche 944 Evolution.
OK, sure, this isn’t a production-spec 944 – quite a long way from it, in fact – but you are reading a modified car mag after all, you knew exactly what you were getting into. What we’re looking at, in essence, is the final and definitive answer to the question of the 944’s credibility. What began as a car that was already of little trouble to the weighscales now finds itself liberally adorned with such ounce-shavers as carbon-fibre doors and polycarbonate windows, and its power output has spiraled to an otherworldly 505bhp at the wheels. There is much to trouble the laws of physics here.
When you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll find two indelible words at its core like ‘Herne Bay’ through a stick of rock: Time Attack. And all suddenly swims into focus. ‘But wait – what exactly is Time Attack?’ we hear you ask. Well, that’s a good question, thanks for joining in. The answer, in short, is this: Time Attack grew from Japanese race cars of the 1960s, that were built to celebrate the art of the aftermarket tuner – the doors were open to everyone from low-budget home-spannerers to big-bucks corporate showcases, with everyone racing on, as it were, a level playing field. This is very much the ethos of the series today.
You just need to start with a production car as a project base, and then the tuning potential is near-limitless. Throw in a load of horsepower, tinker with the chassis and drivetrain, develop some custom aero, do whatever it takes to make the car as fast as it can physically be.
Time Attack today exists in numerous series across the globe, with competitors bracketed into various groups; ‘Clubman’, for instance, is a UK class for cars with basic modifications – rollcages are merely ‘recommended’… the ladder climbs through ‘Club Challenge’, ‘Club Pro’, ‘Pro’ and ‘Pro Extreme’, with the cars getting incrementally madder as you go. In essence, then, Time Attack is the dream series for aftermarket tuners – you can do pretty much what you like to the car without having to worry about a governing body disqualifying you for running the wrong thickness of head gasket or a frowned-upon diameter of air intake.
It follows, then, that cars built for this series tend to be somewhat on the bonkers side. But you’d deduced that from looking at the photos, hadn’t you?
This project is the work of Paul McKinnon and his team at Evolution Custom Industries (ECi). And it’s pretty obvious for anyone with the power of sight that they’re about as far removed as it’s possible to be from the day-to-day sensible-trousers efficiency of Stuttgart, and that’s quite possibly what allowed their trains of thought to go so very wild with this car. The company’s bread-and-butter comes from hot rods and custom bikes, but their extensive skills in fabrication meant that the creation of this feisty 944 Evo wasn’t too much of a stretch.
The car belongs to a customer of theirs, Patrick Garvan, who’d been quite happily using the car as a street-and-track dualpurpose machine until one unfortunate day when he spanged it into the wall at Sydney Motorsport Park, and a certain amount of remedial work was required. Employing an admirable ‘Why not?’ mentality, he decided to go all in with the build, eradicating the element of road-biased compromise and making the thing as fast as it could physically be. With sights firmly set on Time Attack, Patrick briefed ECi to just go nuts and see what happened.
…and what happened was, er, rather a lot. The car still runs its proper turbo four-pot motor (stroked from 2.5- to 3.1-litres not via a stroker crank, but a natty integrated deck plate and Darton sleeves), although it’s now stuffed with bona fi de race-bred kit – forged pistons, knife-edged crank, mind-boggling fueling, the works. It’s dry-sumped and ready to rock. The aforementioned peak power figure speaks for itself, really.
The most noticeable transformation, of course, concerns the body. Time Attack cars are famously extreme, designed to eke out every iota of downforce, and this 944 is no exception: a full-on widebody kit is joined by copious carbon-fibre, wings, splitters, canards, vents… it’s as subtle as being smacked in the head with a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick.
Naturally, with this sort of vastly increased horsepower and downforce, some manner of chassis upgrades were called for, which is why you’ll find the 944’s guts bristling with whacking great Brembos, a 968 transaxle, Eibach springs on Moton shocks, and antiroll bars like a weightlifter’s wrist. The interior is equally businesslike, as you’d expect, with little more than a sturdy cage and a set of buckets and harnesses to spoil the clinical minimalism of the thing. Oh yeah, and there’s air-jacks underneath. Y’know, because race car.
So what does this all tell us about immutable truths and received wisdom? Well, quite simply, it’s all a load of cobblers. Sure, the 911 is a formidable machine, but it’s not the only option. Just ask Patrick Garvan; his 944 eats 911s for breakfast (quite possibly in a literal sense, it really is mad enough). And the scary thing is, given the relentlessly evolutionary nature of Time Attack, you can guarantee that he’s far from finished tinkering with it.
TECH SPEC: #Porsche-944-Turbo / #Porsche-944-Turbo-Tuned / #Porsche-944 / #Porsche / #Garrett / #Porsche-944-Evo
TUNING: 3.1-litre four cylinder turbo, integrated #Performance-Developments deck plate, line bored, pinned girdle, #ARP head studs, custom flywheel, #Cometic head gasket, knife-edged and balanced crank, Arrow rods, CP forged pistons, ported alloy race heads, Ferrera valves, titanium springs and retainers, CPE hydraulic camshaft, #Petersons 3-way dry sump, #Garrett-GTX3582r turbo, Turbosmart wastegate and BOV, #Bosch-HEC sequential ignition, #Motec-M400 management, #Bosch in-line fuel pumps, #Evolution-Custom Industries surge tank and 3-inch turbo-back exhaust, Porsche 968 6-Speed H-pattern transmission, CEP 4-1 stainless headers, custom 5-paddle race clutch, #KAAZ-LSD , custom transmission cooling system.
CHASSIS: 11.5x18-inch #Fiske-Mach-V in anodised black, Yokohama AO050 295/30 tyres, #Eibach springs with Moton Club Sport 2-way shocks, Tarrett anti-roll bar, 330mm discs (front) 298mm (rear), Brembo 4-pot calipers and PFC pads.
EXTERIOR: #Broadfoot-Racing front bumper, widebody kit by I.F.C., front splitter, D9 GTR headlights, Van Zweden carbon bonnet, custom carbon doors, custom wheel tubs, ducted cooling cores through bonnet, GT Racing rear guards, rear stock diff user, DJ Engineering rear spoiler, gloss black respray by Motographics.
INTERIOR: Cobra Evo seats, full rollcage, suede dash, Sparco harnesses, Motec SDL gauges and shift lights, Tilton pedal box, air jacks.
THANKS: Paul McKinnon @ Evolution Custom Industries, Buchanan Automotive, Dave McGrath @ Custom Engineered Performance, Neil Harvey @ Performance Developments, Mike Warner @ I.F.C. USA, Simon McBeath @ Aerodynamicist UK, all my friends and family - especially my longsuffering partner Helen.
There’s actually light aircraft with smaller wings… and the odd 747!
Designed to eke out every iota of downforce!
WHAT’S GOING ON INSIDE THAT ENGINE?
This motor is, in short, a work of art. While it would have been easy to hoik out the stock lump and start afresh with something bigger or more modern, ECi have instead retained the 2.5-litre turbo engine and refined every individual element. It now displaces 3.1-litres, but instead of achieving this with a stroker crank it uses an integrated Performance Developments deck plate and Darton sleeves to increase bore and stroke. The crank has been knife-edged and mated to forged CP pistons and Arrow H-beam rods; at the opposite end we find extensive headwork with oversize Ferrea valves with titanium springs. Throw in the usual spiky cams, serious bolts, custom exhaust and chunky intercooler and you have a recipe for success. Oh yes, and the turbo… it’s a #Garrett-GTX3582R-turbo , which brings the twin guns of improved tractability and massive horsepower potential. The system’s designed to run E85 biofuel (there are three fuel pumps and massive 2000cc injectors), and Motec management keeps it all in check.
That, folks, is how you squeeze over 500bhp from a 944 engine. And that’s just for starters…
Huge 11.5x18-inch hoops get plenty of rubber on the tarmac
DRIVER: PATRICK GARVAN
So why a 944, Patrick, rather than a 911?
“Well, I did initially want a 911, but it was way out of budget. But after a chat with a Porsche mechanic, Bruce Buchanan, I learned that the 944 Turbo was an affordable choice with a lot of potential. The upgrade costs were more reasonable, and there was a lot more scope for modi¬fication.”
What inspired you to build a car for Time Attack?
“My original brief to ECi was to build a full-on door-to-door race car, but after evaluating the potential damage and repair costs, Time Attack made a lot more sense. I already had a bit of experience with it, and I also really like the format, with its more liberal rules and focus on aerodynamics.”
Ah yes, that aero - tell us about that.
“There’s a #DJ-Engineering rear wing, and a #Broadfoot-Racing front bumper with ECi’s own splitter; the pop-up headlights have been swapped out for flush D9 GTR items, and there’s various flics and canards – a piece from here, a piece from there, you know how it is.”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCROSSING THE LINE
One of the most spectacular builds we’ve seen in a long time, this #BMW-M135i is quite unlike anything else. Words: Elizabeth de Latour /// Photos: Henry Phull @ Slam Sanctuary
When Bruce Gowans said he had plans for his M135, he wasn’t lying. A year ago, this car was candy red with a modest boot build and Watercooled Industry wheels and now, well, it’s pretty much unrecognisable. There’s modifying your car and then there’s forging ahead with an absolute vision that’s uncompromised and single-minded in its intent. This car is what happens when someone makes that vision a reality.
There is no typical modified BMW owner, and Bruce certainly fits into that non-box of atypicality. He is of the ‘older’ generation, shall we say, and resides in a tiny village in the heart of the Bedfordshire countryside, a million miles away from the frenetic and eclectic world that is the modified BMW scene. But this mechanical engineer has a heart that pumps pure petrol and has spent his entire life flitting from modified car to modified car, with an underlying appreciation for BMW but never the opportunity to indulge that interest in Bavarian metal until he acquired this M135i. “I’ve been interested in BMWs ever since I was a lad and grew up into a petrolhead! I’ve been a fan since the first E30 M3 and seeing an E9 coupé on neighbour’s drive when I walked to school and thinking how cool it looked. I bought the M135i, my first BMW, for its ‘performance for the price’ factor and because the drivetrain, the engine and the transmission are such a great combination in this vehicle. I bought it brand-new in 2013 and was going to keep it stock…”
“Both Shakey and I thought that translating this design into a vinyl wrap would be a nigh-on impossible task”
Digital audio explained:
“The system in this car was spec’d to accommodate Bruce’s passion for high resolution audio. It’s cutting edge in the fact it can play any file format he wants and samples up to 196khz with bit depths of up to 24-bit. When you consider a CD (still reference in so many studios) samples at 44.1khz at 16-bit, that’s a huge amount more information. Of course, all of the car’s OEM equipment and functionality is retained and played through the new system alongside solid state hard drives, wireless streaming and various other inputs.”
Carl Shakespeare, Director, Studio Incar
Clearly that didn’t happen. It seems like the car was stock for all of five minutes before Bruce had started tinkering and while the mods started off sensibly and in a restrained manner, once the momentum began to build there was clearly no stopping Bruce (or the M135i). “The first mod was to get a new exhaust developed and fitted by Scorpion Exhausts. Then Luke and the guys at Plush supplied and fitted the air-ride, sourcing components from AirREX and an eLevel system from Accuair. This was closely followed by a carbon-fibre front splitter from SSDD,” he says. “Spring 2014 brought a change in colour, with a candy red colour wrap from Avery called True Blood.
New MD1 wheels from Watercooled Industries were added, closely followed by a Juice Box 4 (JB4) piggyback ECU from Burger Motorsports and a decat downpipe which were fitted at #Performance-Developments in Sunderland. The car went to #Forge-Motorsport in #Gloucester to have one of its high-performance intercoolers fitted, along with one of its dump valves.” With all those mods on board, it made 400hp and 450lb ft of torque on the dyno and considering how blisteringly quick the standard M135i is, that’s going to be more than enough power to keep Bruce happy. “After having the traction control kick in once too often, I took the decision to fit a limited-slip diff to the car. Options were thin on the ground for this platform but Birds in Iver, Buckinghamshire developed a Quaife ATB for it, which has made a massive difference to the way the car drives.”
And that is where the story would end for most people. A dramatic wrap, some exceedingly nice wheels, air-ride and some performance mods. A fine selection of upgrades. Job done. But that’s not where this story ends, as you can clearly see. “At the end of 2014 I planned to make some big changes to the car and started speaking to Carl Shakespeare at Studio Incar about my plans,” he explains. “We discussed my ideas for a rear-seat delete and a high-end audio installation and things just got out of hand. I had already decided to try and get a BTCC body kit. I contacted West Surrey Racing and negotiated with the guys there to buy a genuine race car kit from their 2014/15 BMW 1 Series race car. However, fitting it proved more difficult than you might think! The BTCC cars have front and rear subframes and crash structures that are specified by TOCA and these also provide mounting points for the front and rear body panels. These didn’t match up with the mounting and fixing points that BMW specify! It required the rear wings to be cut and tubbed – scary stuff! Luckily, Stylehaus in Northampton has some serious skills and brought the whole thing together.
“Shakey project managed the whole build with input from me, like my suggestion for the triple tank setup. Once the car was back from the bodyshop, and with a little bit of extra fettling by Fibreglass Phil in Kent (the manufacturer of the BTCC kit), the audio and air install could begin in earnest.” With a bit of direction from Bruce, Shakey was free to run riot inside the M135i. The end result is an interior that feels like it’s very much been built around the air and audio and one look inside leaves you in no doubt that this car’s main purpose is to astound. The rear seats have been removed completely, replaced by the awesome triple floating tank setup that looks like a spaceship, illuminated from above and hovering over the massive 15” Hertz Mille sub which forms part of the incredibly high-end digital audio install, while the rear load space is home to the three Audison amps, on display in a beautifully designed enclosure. There’s acres of Alcantara in here, which reaches up to cover the roof lining as well, while some extremely sexy custom door pods are home to Hertz Mille speakers. Finally, a custom panel in the centre console (also trimmed in Alcantara) houses the controllers for the audio system and the air suspension. It’s one of the most spectacular, special and perfectly-executed builds we’ve ever seen and it’s nothing short of a work of art.
With such a spectacular build going on, the right wheels were going to be absolutely essential and Bruce was keen to move away from the usual suspects, like BBS and Rotiform, and try something different. “I had been in touch with Brada wheels in the States for a year or so, originally to try and get some wheels for my GT3,” he says. “I spoke to Zane and we agreed a design and spec for the wheels that were destined to go on the BMW. However, because the car was away having the body kit fitted, Shakey and I could only make an educated guess as to what the exact widths and offsets of the wheels would be, with us only knowing what the overall width of the BTCC car is and working back from those dimensions…” It can be hard enough to work out your exact wheel specs when you’ve got your car in front of you so this was most definitely a risky strategy but it worked and the resulting wheels are the perfect fit for the M135i. Bruce opted for Brada’s BR1 crossspokes with gloss black centres, matt black lips and stainless steel bolts in 9.5x19” at the front and 10.5x19” at the rear, the fitment perfect for tucking the wheels under the massive arches when the car is aired out.
In terms of styling, the kit alone wasn’t enough for Bruce and he decided to take things to the next level. “The wrap design wasn’t established until quite late in the build. I have always been a fan of the BMW Art Car projects but picking a design to base the wrap for the M135i was tricky. Several of the Art Cars are ‘challenging’, to say the least,” he laughs, “but this Frank Stella design from 1976 was selected – it appealed to my inner engineer! Both Shakey and I thought that translating this design into a vinyl wrap would be a nigh-on impossible task, since the original consisted of lots of parallel horizontal and vertical lines; the hardest thing to do with vinyl wrap… Carl contacted JD Wraps in Essex and a deal was struck. When I collected the car a week later I was amazed. The guys had done an awesome job.” The combination of kit and wrap is one that is both single-handedly responsible for the utterly insane amount of attention this car garners but is also the most polarising aspect of the whole project. Some people love the wrap but hate the kit. Some people hate the kit but love the wrap. Some people hate them both. And some people like everything that this car has got going on! However you feel, it’s a talking point and gets the car noticed. Bruce loves it, however, which ultimately is the most important thing.
Amazingly, all this work took just six months, really not long at all considering just how much has gone into the build and how complete the transformation has been. Bruce chose the Players Classic show for the car’s unveiling. It got as much attention as you’d expect and the sort of reactions you’d expect. “It seems to be very much a ‘Marmite’ car!” Bruce tells us. More importantly, though, he can now sit back and actually enjoy the car. Beyond the looks and the next-level interior, he’s got a fast, powerful car that’s great to drive, with an incredible sound system. It’s a package that just begs to be taken out on the road and enjoyed and, in fact, that’s now his only plan for the future.
DATA FILE #2015 #BMW-M135i-F21 / #BMW-M135i / #BMW-F21 / #BMW / #Brada-BR1
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six turbo #N55B30 / #N55 , JB4 piggyback ECU from #Burger-Motorsport , #Scorpion full exhaust including a decat downpipe, #Forge / #Forge-FMIC / , #Forge-DV , stock #ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox #ZF8HP , #Quaife ATB LSD from #Birds
CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) #Brada BR1 three-piece wheels with gloss black lips, matt black faces and stainless hardware, with 235/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) #Goodyear Eagle Asymmetric 2 tyres, #AirREX air-ride and Accuair eLevel management
EXTERIOR #BMW-M-Performance carbon fibre wing mirror shells, #BMW M Performance black front grilles, #BTCC body kit from WSR, Art Car wrap by #JD-Wraps
INTERIOR Interior by #Studio-Incar , full digital audio install comprising Audison AV Quattro amp x2, Audison AV Uno amp, Audison bit Ten D processor, #Audison bit Play HD source, #Hertz-Mille three-way front end, Hertz Mille 15” sub, rear seat delete, custom air installation, Alcantara roof lining, integrated audio and suspension controllers built in to the centre console
THANKS Studio Incar and Shakey in particular for handling this project and for keeping my spirits up when I needed it, Zane and Jacob at Brada, Myles and Chris at Brada UK, Fibreglass Phil, Scorpion Exhausts, Forge Motorsport, the guys at Stylehaus, Luke Massy, Phil James, Kat and the team at JD Wraps, Voodoo Elie for getting me out of a tricky situation, and last but not least, Ed Hamilton at JK Engineering for being a great friend, being just as daft as me and as big a petrolhead as me!
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