Tech Tips: Porsche Cayman

By Scott Lear
Aug 20, 2015 | Porsche | Posted in Buyer's Guides | From the June 2015 issue | Never miss an article

John Tecce
BGB Motorsports Group, LLC
6C W Tower Circle, Unit 102
Ormond Beach, FL 32174
(386) 672-3336

The Porsche Cayman is sexy enough for the street, but it’s also the cheapest dual-purpose Porsche you can get your hands on. If you’re budget-conscious and the car will primarily see the street instead of the track, I’d suggest any first-generation Cayman S or even a base car. People who aren’t horsepower freaks can do fine with a first-gen car—known as a 987.1 and built from 2006 to ’08.

These first-gen cars don’t handle track abuse as well as the later, 2009-’12 direct fuel injectionequipped cars, which have a revamped oil-delivery system. DFI cars on track duty don’t require the preventative oiling modifications.

If you’re going on track in a first-gen car, you need the upgraded air-oil separatorfrom a 911. Money is best spent on a redesigned oil pan and baffling system. This type of oil-specific work typically costs $2500 to $5000 depending on parts and vendors–just to increase oil delivery and mitigate aeration and starvation.

If you don’t do that stuff on the earliest cars, you’ll show up on our doorstep with perhaps a spun rod bearing or a main bearing failure. It’s almost inevitable that the failure is catastrophic, and nine times out of 10 it destroys the engine entirely. Early cars can be had for $25,000 at the dealership while the DFI cars are $40,000 to $50,000, but the reliability difference is worth the extra money.

On the revised DFI-equipped, second-gen cars, the oiling system was redone so that oil is delivered with input from the lateral g and engine load sensors. As a novice DE or autocross Cayman owner, you’re just looking at oil changes. At the club racing level, especially in hot climates, you’re going to want to increase engine cooling with the addition of a third radiator.

In the $70K-ish market for track cars equipped with cages and seats and stuff, the Cayman faces the BMW M3, the Camaro and even the Corvette. When we all go to Palm Beach International Raceway, the Cayman does lap after lap while everything else is in the pits coughing and overheating. Our race car just has stock parts on it. You can spend cheaply on consumables. It’s kind of the Miata of the Porsche line in terms of reliability and how little you have to do to it.

Brake pads and steel braided lines are a good initial upgrade path. The cars’ most basic necessity is front camber–as much as humanly possible. When you get to the point where you can’t get any more camber out of the stock suspension, a two-piece control arm lets you get more camber out of the car. Our RSS Tarmac Series LCA ($1050) is one of our most popular sellers.

For power upgrades, start with an ECU flash and a larger throttle body, then look to the exhaust and intake. For about $10,000 including parts and labor, the Cayman has the potential to make 370 horsepower. There’s not much more you can do beyond that other than an engine swap.

We found a way to put the newer DFI technology on an older car so you can make it more reliable. For $30K to $40K, we can transform a firstgen car with a blown motor into a swapped 3.8-liter with all kinds of upgrades making over 400 horsepower.

For a mild sport suspension, start with coil-overs, anti-roll bars, dampers, control arms and toe links. It’s safe to assume you’ll spend $5000 on coil-overs and another $5000 on monoball control arms, toe links, anti-roll bar bushings and upgraded bars. There’s no reason to have overly stiff springs on a Cayman; the car is more rigid than any other unibody they’ll ever touch. It’s like a go-kart.

I wait every day for the guy who wants to put a 997 Turbo engine in a Cayman. I want some monster torque project. There were people who put GT3 engines in Caymans and ran them at the Nürburgring a few years ago. TPC Racing makes turbos for the car ($7490), but I haven’t heard of anything too outlandish powerwise.

You could do a 4-liter stroker kit with the factory 3.6 crank, but we’re working on a piston-and-rod kit for the crank that won’t require an overbore. The factory has their sauce figured out when they finish the cylinders; we’ve had much success trying not to reinvent everything. There’s a reason they design these cars in these ways.

I don’t think anybody can go wrong snatching up a Cayman in the color combo they want for $25,000. You can’t get a 7-year old 911 for that money.

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View comments on the GRM forums
captdownshift GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
8/20/15 2:49 p.m.

time for some post of the Silver Bullet and some others

flatlander937 Reader
8/20/15 2:57 p.m.


I drove a 6spd 2010 base Cayman at work and really fell in love with it. The way it handled, how comfortable it was, and I like the looks more than most 911s personally.

Must wait for the DFI models to get into affordable territory.

jsquared Reader
8/21/15 8:53 p.m.
It’s kind of the Miata of the Porsche line in terms of reliability and how little you have to do to it.

This after $5000 in mods to keep a stock one from oil starving at the track? Stuff like this and the IMS are the biggest things keeping me from 98X-chassis cars. I told myself I'd have to get a Boxster S or Cayman S before I bought another S2000, but I'm thinking otherwise the more I look into it. Which sucks, because I REALLY like the Cayman!

6/16/19 9:24 p.m.

Great article!  I love my Cayman, it was a 2008 Design Edition and I followed a very similar path mentioned in the article. A few aero bits and a full Tractive Suspension from TPC.  A ton of weight still to come out of the car and a few horses to add and give back.  But just ran VIR full course and did a 2 min 10 sec lap.  After looking at the data there is definitely another 4-5+ sec I can get.  A really amazing machine to work on and drive. 

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