PUR­PLE HAZE!

Mod­i­fied 996 fan boy, Steve Ben­nett, gets be­hind the wheel of RPM Technik’s new 996 Car­rera 2 based CSR EVO, which moves the 996 mod­i­fy­ing game up to a new level. Need­less to say he likes it – a lot!

911 Porsche World - - Front Page - Words: Steve Ben­nett Photography: Antony Fraser

RPM Technik’s track fo­cused CSR EVO takes the mod­i­fied 996 con­cept to a new level

When it comes to the con­cept of Porsche 996 mods, I am the 'open door.' Not sur­pris­ing, really, given that I have a mod­ded 996. In­deed I am a staunch ad­vo­cate/de­fender of the 996 as a real world 911 for those of us with real world as­pi­ra­tions and real world wal­lets, and that ex­tends in par­tic­u­lar to the 996 Car­rera 2 as the purist’s modern 911 of choice. It's no sur­prise, then, that good, man­ual C2s are be­com­ing more and more sought af­ter, with prices edg­ing up­wards.

And I'm not the only one. In the really 'get­ting it' camp is RPM Technik. In a mar­ket of retro clones, resto­mods and Singer, the guys at RPM spot­ted a niche and cre­ated its CSR range, start­ing first with the 986 Boxster and then hit­ting the sweet spot with the 996. The first cars, with a mix of modern and retro touches, trans­formed the 996's oft crit­i­cised bland­ness into real head turn­ers. RPM'S head hon­cho, Dar­ren An­der­son, ped­als his own 996, while RPM tech guru, Ol­lie Pre­ston, is also a mod­ded 996 owner. Th­ese guys drive what they preach and, not sur­pris­ingly, with nearly 30 CSRS built, the lat­est CSR is a long way from the ear­lier cars. Enough to earn it an EVO tag. So en­ter the 996 CSR EVO in all its pur­ple glory.

At the risk of re­peat­ing my­self, the 996's afore­men­tioned bland­ness is what makes it an ideal start­ing point and some­thing of a blank can­vas. If the 996 had been launched in the ’80s, then we wouldn't be able to move for Guards Red ex­am­ples, but as it was the

late ’90s and into the 2000s this was the era of sil­ver and grey, colours that rather ac­cen­tu­ated the 996’s nar­row physique. Which is why, see­ing RPM'S CSR EVO in its Audi shade of Mer­lin Pur­ple, is such an eye pop­ping trans­for­ma­tion. For some rea­son I can't get Hen­drix and 'Pur­ple Haze' out of my mind.

Whilst we're on the aes­thet­ics, as be­fit­ting the EVO tag, this goes be­yond a change of colour. While previous de­fault op­tions for body styling usu­ally ex­tend to the ubiq­ui­tous GT3 bodykit, RPM has de­vel­oped be­spoke front and rear aprons and melded them with the trade­mark CSR duck­tail rear wing. The front apron ac­com­mo­dates an an­gled third, cen­tre ra­di­a­tor, for ad­di­tional down­force (and cool­ing, ob­vi­ously). The rear apron, with black lead­ing edge, is de­signed to show­case RPM'S newly de­vel­oped cen­tre exit twin ex­haust. Both the bon­net and duck­tail are car­bon-fi­bre, as are the side skirts, and full weight loss for the CSR EVO equates to 45kg, and that's on a car that in stock spec is al­ready lighter than a 996 GT3 gen 2.

EVO, of course, is short­hand for evolution, and it's also RPM'S nod to a more track fo­cused CSR – and with it a whole host of new de­vel­op­ments be­yond the vis­ual. For the first time RPM have opened the 996's en­gine and re­worked the cylin­der heads, hand fin­ish­ing the ports and in­stalling up­rated camshafts to cre­ate a Stage 1 power kit. Com­bined with ex­haust man­i­folds and cen­tre exit sys­tem and a be­spoke ECU remap, power is up to 350bhp, which is just 10bhp shy of a gen 1

“EVO is RPM’S nod to a ” rather more track fo­cused CSR

996 GT3. To cope with track work, RPM have fit­ted a deep sump ex­ten­sion. And, need­less to say, the IMS has been up­graded, while the cen­tre ra­di­a­tor and Evans coolant aim to keep en­gine tem­per­a­tures sta­ble. Speak­ing of which, dur­ing our heat­wave day with the CSR EVO, the en­gine temp sat res­o­lutely at 80 deg, whether pound­ing the track or sit­ting grid­locked on the M25.

Com­ple­ment­ing the en­gine up­grades is an RPM de­vel­oped light­weight fly­wheel and clutch, plus a newly de­vel­oped me­chan­i­cal lim­ited slip dif­fer­en­tial. Brak­ing is a col­lab­o­ra­tion of RPM'S re­freshed calipers in trade­mark or­ange, and Per­for­mance Fric­tion float­ing discs and pads, while wheels are 18in OZ Al­leg­gerita rims, with Miche­lin Pi­lot Cup 2 tyres, with an ap­pro­pri­ate re­duc­tion in un­sprung weight. Mak­ing the con­nec­tion be­tween the wheels and tyres to the bodyshell, are Rpm/eibach ad­justable bot­tom sus­pen­sion arms, plus KW Club­sport, 3-way ad­justable coilover kit, ad­justable anti roll bars and ex­ten­sive use of poly­bushes.

That es­sen­tially is the parts list, but the ethos – as with all CSR ma­chines – is to cre­ate a driver fo­cused 911 that in­vites driver par­tic­i­pa­tion, al­beit in a more track fo­cused way than per­haps be­fore. To that end, start­ing with a ba­sic 2WD 911 of any era or gen­er­a­tion is a smart move, and in the 996 Porsche cre­ated a par­tic­u­lar sweet spot in terms of han­dling, grip and power, which RPM has ex­ploited and im­proved on.

Slid­ing into the Re­caro, fixed back seat and tak­ing con­trol via the deep dished, leather rimmed Momo wheel, with legs splayed to work the ped­als and floor­mounted throt­tle, this is fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory. There is no other 911 in which I feel more com­fort­able than 996/997 era ma­chines. A new spher­i­cal-topped, short shifter sits taller than the stan­dard stick and in the rear

mir­ror a half cage hints at track in­tent.

The new ex­haust has cre­ated a new harder-edged sound that lights up un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion, but fades at a steady throt­tle. The gearshift is quite the best 996 ac­tion I've ex­pe­ri­enced and in no small part thanks to a re­fresh of the link­age and the throw and weight of the short-shifter. And the steer­ing feel is a re­minder of what's been sac­ri­ficed at the al­tar of the pack­ag­ing, mar­ginal eco con­ve­nience and modern stop start func­tion­al­ity of an elec­tro sys­tem. All that be­fore get­ting to the exit bar­rier of RPM'S trad­ing es­tate!

A 50-mile road trip to our favoured Longcross test track is am­ple time to get on terms with the CSR EVO from a road point of view. RPM are keen to make it known that the spec shouldn't com­pro­mise day-to­day drive­abil­ity, and in terms of clutch and gear­box it's a lot eas­ier than a 996 era GT3. En­gine we'll come to, but sus­pen­sion is ob­vi­ously a per­sonal thing and the KW Club­sport pack­age as tested here was more firm than fair for me, but then I know (as will reg­u­lar read­ers) that I'm par­tic­u­larly hard to please, and be­sides there are al­most end­less set-up per­mu­ta­tions and if you wanted a more road bi­ased set-up then KW'S Vari­ant 3 is hard to beat. (Note to self: Re­mem­ber this is a track-bi­ased ma­chine and the roads around the South East are par­tic­u­larly Third World.)

The en­gine? Well, it's got more of ev­ery­thing. The ex­tra power hasn't come at the ex­pense of torque, and nor is it no­tice­ably any higher up in the rev range. It might lack the sav­age top-end bite of a Mezger unit, but it makes up for it with flex­i­bil­ity and its own sound­track. There's no coughs and fits from the re­vised cams. It just feels like a stock, fac­tory en­gine, but bet­ter. And it’s just the right amount of power for the chas­sis and the grip on of­fer, too, which is im­por­tant.

You see, while 350bhp might not sound like a lot th­ese days, it's not all about power. Modern 911s have oo­dles of the

“The en­gine? The ex­tra ” power hasn’t come at the ex­pense of torque

PRICE OF PER­FECT

Ob­vi­ously, as RPM'S demo car, this is a no ex­pense spared build start­ing with a good, sound donor, which was then stripped to a bare shell for its pur­ple power re­spray. Nev­er­the­less, mi­nus the donor car the sum of the parts, plus fit­ting, is a not in­sub­stan­tial £55,460 inc VAT. Yes, that does sound a bit steep, but then imag­ine a sim­i­lar resto­mod type build with an air cooled car. Or a £1.5m Singer?

The point here is that you're un­likely to drop your 996 round to RPM'S place and tell them to just get on with it. Here is a menu of parts that you can dip in and out of. You might just want the sus­pen­sion, or just the en­gine work, mi­nus the vis­ual stuff. In­deed, if you were in the un­for­tu­nate po­si­tion that your 996 needed an en­gine re­build, then RPM'S 350bhp re­build at £10k would make a lot of sense.

In­deed, there are many 996 own­ers out there who have mod­ded there 996s and taken in­spi­ra­tion from RPM'S ef­forts, but with their own take on the con­cept. De­spite my own en­thu­si­asm for the CSR ma­chines, my own 996 fea­tures only RPM'S ad­justable bot­tom sus­pen­sion arms, but I must say I'm hugely tempted by a set of the OZ Al­leg­gerita wheels! Aes­thet­i­cally, though, I'm in­clined to go my own way and prob­a­bly stick with the 996’s sim­ple, stan­dard lines. Do love a duck­tail, though!

Bot­tom line: Mod­ding Porsches has never been cheap, but on the bang for buck spec­trum, there’s not much to beat the 996 as a start­ing point and RPM are to be com­mended for be­ing ut­terly up­front as to what the full pack­age costs. Pick 'n’ mix to cre­ate your own per­fect 996:

stuff, but with more power comes mas­sive wheels and tyres and cor­re­spond­ingly huge brakes and ex­tra wide body­work. None of this en­hances the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, it just puts it fur­ther and fur­ther out of reach. The 996-based CSR EVO is light on its al­ready light­weight 18in OZ wheels and Miche­lins, and nar­row and small enough to be wieldy.

Of course, the track al­lows a more in­tense work out. Even here a modern, 20/21in shod 911 has to be pushed to ex­tremis to en­ter­tain, but again the 996 based CSR en­gages, but in a safer en­vi­ron­ment. Power and grip are on talk­ing terms. Push a bit too hard and you'll find the edge, but in a more con­vivial sort of way. It moves, it dances, it talks – you can feel it through the wheel and your back­side. You can play with it, find and mess around with its lim­its, ap­pre­ci­ate and ex­plore the famed and fa­bled 911 bal­ance of power and han­dling. You don't have to drive it be­yond the edge of rea­son to en­joy it.

Gush­ing praise from the res­i­dent 996 fan boy? Well, yes, guilty as charged, but really, what's not to like and what would make a bet­ter start­ing point than the last of the light­weight ana­logue 911s with a man­ual, non vario steer­ing rack? Really, it's a no-brainer... PW

“Gush­ing praise from a ” 996 fan boy? Guilty as charged

CSR EVO in­te­rior is a good place to be for 996 fan boy, Ben­nett. Driv­ing po­si­tion, with dished wheel and Re­caro seat, is spot on. The per­fect po­si­tion for ex­ploit­ing the EVO’S per­for­mance

Eye poppng Audi Mer­lin Pur­ple comes alive in the sun­light and gives the 996based ma­chine a new lease of life

Front apron is ex­clu­sive to RPM and ac­com­mo­dates cen­tre ra­di­a­tor for ex­tra cool­ing. It’s also an­gled for ex­tra down­force

Re­caro seats and dished Momo steer­ing wheel add to in­te­rior am­biance. RPM’S newly de­vel­oped short­shifter adds weight and feel to the gearshift

996 cabin is com­pact by modern 911 stan­dards. Cen­tre con­sole delete a pop­u­lar mod­i­fi­ca­tion, for that GT3 vibe

OZ Al­leg­gerita rims are shod with Miche­lin Pi­lot Cup 2 tyres, mak­ing for a light­weight and grippy combo

Kick­ing up a dust storm! Cen­tre exit ex­haust re­quires RPM’S new be­spoke rear apron. Looks ter­rific

En­gine bay looks stock, but en­gine has been re­worked, with hand fin­ished heads and cams, to give 350bhp

CON­TACT RPM Technik Old Air­field In­dus­trial Es­tate Ched­ding­ton Lane Long Marston HP23 4QR Tel: 01296 663824 rpmtech­nik.co.uk

Car­bon rear lid with CRS duck­tail wing plus car­bon bon­net con­trib­ute to 45kg weight loss

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