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dps214
dps214 HalfDork
5/21/20 1:02 p.m.

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, pandemic boredom has finally motivated me enough to follow through. This may not be an overly exciting thread; most of the point is to force myself to document things because I’m historically awful at that.

So some back story: Recently I owned a couple of newer german sports cars, a supercharged S52 M roadster and a 986 Boxster. I really liked both cars but never totally fell in love with either and always managed to make excuses to not drive them as much as I wanted to. I decided to ditch both cars and get something that could “do it all” – daily driving, road trips, autocross, track days. Something that would be fun to drive hard, but comfortable the rest of the time and with no reliability worries. So I went looking for something that combined the best attributes of the 986 and M with modern car comfort and reliability.

 Given how much the 986 driving experience exceeded my expectations, the obvious choice was a Cayman S. The 987.2 seemed like the best choice as it got over the reliability issues of the M96/M97 engines and got a serious power bump at the same time, and was reasonably modern but old enough to be budget friendly. Unfortunately, those cars were produced during peak recession time so there aren’t many out there to begin with, plus most of them are pretty low on options and even fewer of them are exciting colors. Trying to find one with a reasonable option list AND in an interesting color…basically impossible, as it turns out. So I spent a few months fruitlessly searching, until one day out of frustration and curiosity I extended my search range to include 2014s, the first year of the 981 chassis. And of course one of the first results was a 2014 with nearly the exact option list I wanted, in one of my favorite Porsche colors, for $5-10k under market and just barely more than I had resigned myself to having to pay for a decent 987.2, and not on the opposite side of the country. So after getting a few more photos and details from the seller, I sent a deposit and then a couple of weeks later headed down to Nashville with a friend to finish the deal and collect the car. This was mid-november 2019.

The car, as it was, dirty from sitting for a few months:

Safely in the trailer and ready for the trip home:

And finally back home, cleaned up a bit and sitting next to its older sibling:

The interior is a kind of weird brown over white color scheme. Not what I would have chosen but it’s not bad and has been growing on me.

It’s got pretty much all the equipment I wanted:

-manual transmission

-PASM (active suspension with 10mm lowering and slightly stiffer springs and bars)

-PTV (brake torque vectoring and a mechanical LSD)

-Bi-Xenon headlights with active cornering system (which are really awesome)

-sport seats (unfortunately not the fancy 18 way power ones)

But of course there’s reasons it was so cheap; according to the Carfax it sideswiped a guardrail very early on in its life and was repaired. As best we could tell the car has been fully repainted. There’s definitely bondo in the right rear quarter panel but all in all the work looks very well done; no visible signs of damage, the car aligns fine and drives straight. It’s pushing 65k miles which isn’t exactly high mileage, but most of these are in the 20-40k range. The paint hasn’t been cared for tremendously well; it’s fine from a few feet away but up close it’s filled with micro scratches, as well as a handful of larger ones. But all of that makes it pretty much perfect for a car that’s hopefully going to see 5-10k miles a year of street driving and a fair amount of autocross and track time.

At this point my plan is pretty simple; catch up on any maintenance it needs, maybe a few minor upgrades, and a moderate prep for SCCA A Street autocross. Wheels, tires, and maybe a sway bar if it seems like it needs it. My only real concern with that setup is the limited front camber, but we’ll see how that goes. The SCCA is currently working on refreshing STU to make it more popular, and the 981 S is on the list of potential additions (987S and 981 base are currently classed). The current proposed allowances include 11” wheels and 315 width tires for everyone which means the 981S wouldn’t really be a contender but I’m guessing it would be at least as competitive as it is in AS and a lot more fun with a bit more tire all around and a good amount of front camber. So that’s a potential consideration for the future if the car ends up getting classed.

dps214
dps214 Reader
5/21/20 1:07 p.m.

Initial Ownership

Of course it’s pretty much winter at this point but Ohio’s winters have been weird lately. This one was no exception, with a few stretches of 40*+ temps and rain followed by clear weather, enough to wash the salt off the roads for a minute and give me an excuse to start driving this thing. Initial impressions are that it’s basically the 986 turned up to like 15. It’s relation to the 986 is apparent, but it’s just in a completely different zip code of performance, comfort, and styling. And the engine noise…just great. Absolutely zero regrets, even if I do have to wait several months before I can really put it to use (and, as it turned out, even longer until it would be able to see an autocross course or track).

My only real disappointment is the radio. I had hoped that after 15+ years and three generations of development, Porsche would have either figured out the antenna wire in the windshield system, or ditched it. They did neither, and while it’s much better than the 986 was, reception is still terrible compared to every other car I’ve owned.

At some point I did an oil change with Amsoil (5W40 euro formula, IIRC) and replaced the trans oil with Mobil 1 Delvac which is a pretty common swap. When it’s particularly cold the first couple of shifts are a little rough, but after that it feels much better than the old stock oil. Now that it’s gotten warmer out, it’s totally fine, so that’s a win.

I have access to a set of scales and an alignment rack at work, so I tossed it on the scales for fun and then set to work seeing what I could get out of the alignment. Amazingly, I managed to remember to take photos of both of the results.

Weight:

Of course it’s heavy to the driver’s side even without me in it, but there’s not much that can be done about that and it turned out lighter than I was expecting so that’s a plus. I believe it had around ½ tank of fuel but I’m not positive (this is the kind of stuff I want to force myself to actually record somewhere).

Alignment:

The front camber was more than I expected but after some internet research is about right for a PASM car. Porsches are sometimes sensitive to toe out on the front but it doesn’t really seem to affect the Cayman.

mr2s2000elise
mr2s2000elise SuperDork
5/21/20 1:10 p.m.

Beautiful car

dps214
dps214 Reader
5/21/20 1:12 p.m.

Appearance Upgrades

One of the weird mental issues I have is that I’m annoyed by inconsistent lighting schemes. The cayman has totally clear headlights and fog lights, and red/clear tail lights, with everything is bi-xenon or LED…and then there’s the amber, incandescent bulb side markers:

 These in particular are also giant and bulky for some reason. Luckily, the 718/991 marker lights are clear, LED, and much lower profile.

 A quick swap out and the front end looks much better IMO:

On the 986 the radiators are tucked way back from the bumper and barely even visible from the front and are known for getting clogged up with road debris. On the 981, they’re just…right there, with nothing between them and road debris but a few plastic slats. Better airflow, but I wasn’t really excited about them being that exposed. Most of the 911s have some form of mesh in their radiator intakes which I really like the look of. So in go a set of grill inserts:

It's pretty subtle, but definintely an improvement. These are intended to be fished in there and just zip tied in place, but I wanted a less temporary and less visible install, plus pulling the bumper was a good opportunity to clean any crap out of the radiators and fix an alignment issue between one of the fog light housings and the bumper. No photos of the process because I’m bad at that, but it was basically just a lot of cutting and trimming to fit nicely, and then a bunch of JB plastic weld or whatever epoxy  I concluded would work to adhere powder coated metal to plastic. So far it seems to have held up.

One of the few signs that this car has had body work is the badging on the rear. For one thing, I believe the options list says this car was ordered with the rear model designation deleted, so the ‘Cayman S’ badge shouldn’t be there. And from looking at photos of other cars, I think it’s the wrong badge as well. But more noticeably, the “PORSCHE” lettering is spaced wrong and one or two of them were a little crooked. Luckily, I’m not a huge fan of the lettering anyway, so off it comes.

This is the best ‘before’ photo I have:

Apparently either I wasn’t as gentle on the removal process as I thought I was or whoever put the letters on didn’t do a great job, because the paint under it was a little worse for wear. A bit of time with the buffer made it better but still not great. Between not controlling the adhesive remover spray very well and the aggressive buffing in the area, the Cayman logo (which I wasn’t sure how I felt about anyway) was starting to peel off. So why not, remove that too. With now unrestricted access to buff out the panel, it’s looking a lot better. There’s still a little bit of shadowing where the Porsche was but you have to really look for it to see it. I think it looks a lot cleaner like this, so I’m going to keep it at least for now. Replacement badges are pretty cheap if I ever change my mind.

dps214
dps214 Reader
5/21/20 1:15 p.m.

Starting to plan out Autocross Prep

Wheels:

This is one of the places where the 981 isn’t as easy to work with as a 987.2 would have been. Porsche is nice in that their wheel options are usually totally unrelated to any other options, so any car can be ordered with any wheel package offered for it. Good for street class which allows only complete option package conversions. I really wanted 18” wheels for gearing and tire cost reasons. (As it turns out 19” tires aren’t tremendously more expensive new, but 18s generally have a bigger selection of sizes to choose from and tend to be more readily available on the used market) The unfortunate part is that the 981 got its wheels upsized. The 987 S base wheels were 18x8/18x9, and the widest optional wheel package was 19x8.5/19x10, meaning that under street class rules I could legally run 18x8.5/18x10 wheels due to the +-1” diameter allowance, which is a fairly commonly used setup with lots of buying options. On the other hand, the 981 base wheels were 19x8/19x9.5, with optional 20x8.5/20x10. Which means if I want to stick with 18s I lose half an inch of wheel width all around versus the 987, and am stuck with a very uncommon rear wheel size.

Since this whole thing is in many ways a big experiment and I wanted the gearing advantage and cheap used tires, I decided to go ahead with trying to track down 18” wheels. I discovered that the 718 base model wheels (also used for the winter tire package) are exactly what I want, 18x8, same offset as the 981 and 18x9.5, 4mm higher offset than the 981, reasonably light, and I like the design. Unfortunately, being from a <4 year old Porsche and a somewhat uncommon set, everyone selling them used thinks they’re worth their weight in gold. I found someone selling a set on ebay that I managed to talk into selling for a high but not unreasonable price. He actually had two sets and in retrospect I should have bought at least the rears from the second set at the same time. Here’s one being test fitted to verify clearance:

Tires:

This is where the real experimentation is probably going to happen. RE71Rs are most common and therefore most readily available on the used market so I decided to start there. I actually bought a pair of 275/18 rear tires before I even bought the car. The best I could find for the front was 235s. (stock widths are 235 and 265) I would have preferred 245s, but being pinched onto an 8” wide rim with limited camber, I’m not sure the extra width would really have done much. I spent last season codriving a friend’s 997.2 GT3 in Super Street, and the tire setup we found to work best was a stagger of a different sort…RE71Rs on the front and Rivals on the rear. I’m not sure we can take credit for the idea, but several other competitors came to the same conclusion, including the national championship runner up. We also ran stock width front tires (235 on 8.5” with decent camber) and it didn’t seem to hurt performance, just made the car a touch more difficult to drive, also why I’m not overly concerned about slightly narrow front tires on the cayman. I’m sure the cayman will be less sensitive to rear tire choice than the GT3 was, but I’d still like experiment with it at some point. There’s a few other new 200TW offerings lately, I might look into trying some of those out at some point. But for now I’ll see how the car drives on the bridgestones. Here they are on the car, only…several more months until I can use them (it’s New Year’s Eve eve in this photo):

Sway bar:

This one I’m not entirely sure what to do with. I could see the logic going either way, more rear bar to make the car rotate more and take cornering effort away from the front end, or more front bar to keep the front end flat and help the camber curve. Replacing the front bar requires dropping the subframe which I’d rather not do, so there’s that. I’m going to give it an event or two to feel the car out and see what it wants. It would be nice to have adjustability; the GT3 was very receptive to bar changes, for all the adjustability that car has, the only things we ever really touched were the bars.

dps214
dps214 Reader
5/21/20 1:17 p.m.

The next few months were filled with driving it at every opportunity. In early march right before everything shut down I did a quick road trip to visit some friends just south of Cleveland (I live in the Columbus suburbs). The car was fantastic, cruising flawlessly on the wide open highway at 85-90mph definitely the posted speed limit. It’s a bit thirsty, but that was expected. (and, I just noticed, pictured here with only the rear Cayman badge)

Then everything shut down. Between working from home and all of my hobbies being postponed for the foreseeable future, I had a fair amount of spare time and money on my hands. So I moved some lower priority projects to the front burner. I bought a random orbital buffer and cleaned up the trunk panel as described above and put a little bit of effort into the rest of the car with mixed results. It’s hard to photograph the results well, the hood probably cleaned up the best.

Before:

After:

The other project I moved up was the brakes, the brakes were *fine* but not amazing. As best I could tell the rear pads were original and the fronts had been replaced at some point with who knows what quality pads. I’ve had good experiences with Porterfield R4S pads for multipurpose use. They seem to perform well and stand up to heat at least decently, but still work at normal temperatures and, most importantly, are dead silent. They do tend to dust a lot but whatever cheap pads were on it dusted way more than I expected so that shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Porsche insists on using drilled rotors which are hard on pads regardless of compound. I didn’t manage to take any photos but it’s a pretty boring process. Front calipers have to come off, rear calipers stay on the car, but of course after 60k miles the pad retainer pins were corroded in place and needed a fair amount of PB blaster and hammer action to free up. Followed with a fluid flush with ATE 200 (super gold) and it was good to go. The RF caliper had some of the most disgusting brake fluid I’ve ever seen in it, so I’m extra glad I did that. Bedded the brakes in and took it for a drive the next day and it’s definitely an improvement. So that’s good to go for autocross and hopefully will withstand some mild track use. These brakes are big but not giant by any means, they do have some cooling ducts on them which should help.

dps214
dps214 Reader
5/21/20 1:21 p.m.

The first autocross event

At the end of april, a local non-SCCA autocross group managed to get approval from their county to hold a limited entry test and tune event with an emphasis on social distancing. I decided that it was safe enough to see how it would pan out and the weather forecast was amazing. So I tossed on the autocross tires, packed some food, water, and hand sanitizer, and headed out to get an initial shakedown on the car.

Ready to run:

An action shot:

In summary, the car is a blast. Front grip was better than I expected, and the bridgestones on the rear weren’t awful. I played around with tire pressures some, more rear pressure seemed to make the car rotate better but also bought out some of the bridgestone peakiness issues and made it seem to struggle to put power down. All in all it felt like it could be faster that way but was much harder to drive at the limit. Much like a toned down version of the GT3, as I thought it might be. The front end really didn’t misbehave unless I was way too rough with steering inputs, so I think rear bar is going to be the way to go. I’m hoping the stiffer rear bar will provide the extra rotation that came from the higher tire pressures, while being able to run lower pressures to keep the tire compliance and longitudinal grip. It also makes me think that trying out rivals is still worthwhile but not a huge priority. Probably not worth it until if/when I can run the car on a “real” autocross surface (concrete or high grip asphalt). The other thing I briefly played around with was leaving the shocks in “normal” mode. In the GT3 there were times when it actually seemed to perform better in that setting. In the cayman, it did make the front end a bit easier to drive but also seemed to make the rear end less stable and generally allowed the car to roll a bit more. I wasn’t any faster that way and I figured the extra roll wasn’t great for front grip or tire wear, so I went back to sport mode. Probably worth experimenting with that on different surfaces in the future. All in all I’m very happy with the car. Here’s the video of my best run (which still wasn’t amazing, gps data says I left ~.7s out there which I more or less believe), unfortunately my camera botched the audio so it’s silent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KY72vGjFXRc

I also stuck the camera on the front fender for a couple of runs to see what kind of tire clearance I had, for future reference more than anything else. Seems to be plenty of space, though I wasn’t pushing the car quite as hard at that point in the day.

Being a non-SCCA club running somewhat non-traditional course layouts, it’s hard to get a real benchmark of performance from this group. To my knowledge the only cars/drivers that went faster than me was Danny Popp, in both a C7 GS and a borrowed C8 Z51. The gap between us was bigger than I would have hoped, but SS and AS cars tend to be hard to compare, sometimes SS struggles to outrun AS, other times it’s full seconds faster. This course was closer to a “normal” course than typical for this group, but it was still fairly power-friendly, which is the arrangement where SS cars really shine. So I’m still not really sure how competitive this thing is going to be, but it’s certainly fun. Also had the opportunity to take this photo which was pretty cool:

dps214
dps214 Reader
5/21/20 1:23 p.m.

And that pretty well brings us up to the present. Over the weekend I got bored and was curious about the logistics of doing a back to back tire test at a hypothetical future event. So I broke out the tape measure and did some measuring, and then this happened:

Amazingly, the pair of rear tires fits exactly in the passenger seat. I thought there would be more clearance, but when I was measuring for some reason I assumed the tires were only 10” wide, not the ~10.75” that they really are. To really do this I’d need to build some kind of a platform so that the tires don’t crush the side bolsters on the seat.

Then yesterday these arrived in the mail:

Since my fender cam video showed plenty of clearance up front, I figured it was worth trying out wheel spacers. The stock tires are a bit more inset than I would like, and it might help handling a bit. Street class limits me to offset changes of 7mm. These are 7mm spacers front, and 10mm for the rear. The autocross rear wheels are 4mm higher offset than stock, so the spacers bring it to a net change of 6mm. Nobody makes a reasonably priced 7mm spacer kit for this car, so the fronts are cheap spacers from an ebay seller I’ve had good luck with before and a good set of extended bolts. I almost cheaped out and went the same route for the rear, but the cheap 10mm spacers lose the hub centering ability which makes wheel changes super annoying.

This never shows up great in photos, but it’s a noticeable improvement in person Left side (of the photo) is stock, right side is with spacers:

pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/21/20 1:27 p.m.

IMHO, the Cayman is the rare car that looks equally amazing in a BOLD color like neon green, a vibrant color like your blue, a muted color like grey, and even a "dull" color like brown. DJ, track-day fan, father, rock-star, tenured professor...they can all drive a Cayman.
 

dps214
dps214 Reader
5/21/20 1:35 p.m.

Yeah, wanting an interesting color was a personal desire as much as anything else. Three of the four "fun" cars I've owned have been silver, and the fourth was black. While none of them looked terrible, I wanted something different. The 987 also is a little bit more of a simple design and I think doesn't look as good in "normal" colors. On the other hand, I always thought the 981 design looked a little silly until I saw this car in blue.

Also, wow, my posts so far have been a lot more words than I expected. It should slow down a fair amount from here.

CAinCA
CAinCA Reader
5/21/20 4:13 p.m.

Great car. I've been dreaming of a RWD replacement for my GTI and this car is on top of my list.

I can't see any of your pictures though.

dps214
dps214 Reader
5/21/20 4:33 p.m.

In reply to CAinCA :

The Cayman is technically a hatchback, that makes it a direct replacement for a GTI, right?

I was a little afraid of posting directly from google photos, it seemed to work for me viewing in an incognito window though. Can you see the wheel spacer comparison pics? Those were uploaded from my computer and shouldn't have any issues.

Woody
Woody MegaDork
5/21/20 4:48 p.m.

In reply to dps214 :

The wheel spacer photos are the only ones that I can see, either on my laptop or my phone. 

yupididit
yupididit UberDork
5/21/20 4:55 p.m.
Woody said:

In reply to dps214 :

The wheel spacer photos are the only ones that I can see, either on my laptop or my phone. 

Ditto

dps214
dps214 Reader
5/21/20 5:27 p.m.

Ugh, that's annoying that it seems to work for some people. Should be fixed now.

CAinCA
CAinCA Reader
5/21/20 5:51 p.m.

I can see all of your pictures now. 

 

I did a test and tune day in December. The guy next to me had a 2014 Cayman S in the same blue as yours but with a black interior. We traded rides all day and it was a blast. I've thought long and hard about buying one but I'm not there yet. I've got two kids about to start college in the next couple years and with this Corona thing who knows if they will be able to find jobs afterward. I've lived this long without a P car. I can wait a few more years. 

preach
preach Reader
5/21/20 5:58 p.m.

Very nice!

I DD a 987.1 S in the summer. I have driven across country 2x and had another 3500 mile trip from NH to TN as well.

In my opinion these cars are phenomenal. I can spend 10 hours a day at 100mph and be comfortable still at the 10th hour. The first trip from San Diego to NH was 3300 miles and I averaged 77mph per the computer. At the end of the second day my wife said "Dan I really like this car." I asked why and she replied: "2 very long days in the car and my butt does not hurt at all." I laughed.

I have driven the Tail of the Dragon 2x in it as well. Amazing road, equally amazing car.

Sounds like you will be using the car well and it is in good hands. Enjoy it!

Woody
Woody MegaDork
5/21/20 7:23 p.m.

In reply to dps214 :

Now I see them. Nice car!

 

pimpm3 (Forum Supporter)
pimpm3 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
5/21/20 8:07 p.m.

Nice car!  I too was looking for a 987.2 but could not bring myself to pay what they sell for.  I thing going with the 2014 was a good decision.  Everything I read makes them sound awesome.

It's funny I went the opposite direction of you and recently bought a 2000 M Coupe for my "do it all car".

I got mine from Nashville as well...

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
5/21/20 8:11 p.m.

thats a beautiful car. 

i'll be following along!

dps214
dps214 Reader
5/21/20 8:34 p.m.

 Thanks everyone!

pimpm3 (Forum Supporter) said:

Nice car!  I too was looking for a 987.2 but could not bring myself to pay what they sell for.  I thing going with the 2014 was a good decision.  Everything I read makes them sound awesome.

It's funny I went the opposite direction of you and recently bought a 2000 M Coupe for my "do it all car".

I got mine from Nashville as well...

I really liked the M and have no regrets about it, but abetter cared for and less modified example (especially a coupe) may well have been better for me, or at least led to me keeping it for longer. Living with convertibles annoys me and that car had weak A/C and broken cruise control which made me less than excited about driving it when most of the driving I was doing was highway commuting. It was huge fun to autocross but wildly outclassed, though it wouldn't have been in a much better situation in unmodified form. Not too long after I sold it and had the money burning a hole in my bank account I almost impulse bought a S54 roadster that popped up somewhere for cheap. I also almost bought a 987.2 that was dirt cheap because it had 100k miles on it. The mileage itself didn't bother me too much but it was black with basically none of the options I wanted aside from the headlights. By the time I added up the cost and effort to turn it into the car I wanted, it made sense to just wait for the car I really wanted to appear. Which I'm definitely glad I did.

dps214
dps214 Reader
5/22/20 8:24 p.m.

Weather finally cleared up for long enough to be worth taking a test drive to make sure all was good with the spacers. I was a little concerned the extra scrub radius would screw with the front end stability but it seems fine so far.

Beautiful. 

red_stapler
red_stapler SuperDork
5/23/20 8:41 a.m.

Great thread so far, thanks for sharing!

AxeHealey
AxeHealey HalfDork
5/23/20 9:03 p.m.

That looks like an Akron Sports Car Club autocross. I've never had the chance to run with them but I hear, with them running through the paddock, it turns into more like a mini road course than an autocross.

Cayman looks great!

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