BACK FOR ANOTHERHELPING OF PIE
You will recall, perhaps, that back in the April 2018 edition I put together a how-to story (pages 84–87) about Suffolkbased PIE Performance’s ingenious and essentially DIY kit to convert a basic rear-drive 964 to a fully solidstate engine management system. Ditching the rather old-fashioned and now increasingly troublesome moving-flap airflow meter, essentially, and replacing it with two simple sensors measuring both inlet-air temperature and manifold air pressure. Also discarded were the original Bosch ECU and the six fuel injectors. The former was replaced by one of Specialist Components’ Typhoon ECUS, obviously mapped to suit; the latter by brand-new and updated items with a suitably higher flow rate, again made by Bosch.
The result, for a total cost of around £2750 for the kit alone (£3114 installed) is a claimed – and obviously highly appealing – 48bhp power boost, with an as yet unstated but plainly commensurate rise in allimportant torque. That’s a mere £55 or so per additional horsepower, if you do the work yourself (which is about as easy and inexpensive as any worthwhile engine tuning gets these days), and effectively cost-neutral if, as is now so often the way with those airflow meters and fuel injectors, the originals need replacing anyway. All of those figures include VAT, by the way – and see opposite for an even more tempting introductory offer for 911 & Porsche World readers.
There was, however, one slight problem. Or rather two, actually. The car, a long-term project belonging to regular PIE customer Duncan Lang (of whom more in a moment), performed pretty well to start with, and so the conversion was both pre-emptive and also something of a favour to PIE by providing them with a suitable test ‘mule’.
But fitting all of the new hardware immediately revealed that the original idle control valve was no longer working properly, and while I experienced for myself on the day the significantly improved mid-range pull (push?), the engine was more or less impossible to keep running at lower revs. Couple that to virtually non-existent brakes, thanks to the partial seizure of the linkage from the pedal across to the left-hand side of the cabin (a common 964 malady, and here made worse by the car previously standing unused for a long time), and you had a recipe for potential disaster – and certainly for much frustration. We agreed that I would in due course return, when the problems had been sorted.
Fast forward, then, some six months, to mid-august, or just about the end of the heatwave most of us ‘enjoyed’ at some point this summer. (And strange to think that my first visit, in early February, was fully five or six weeks before the no less famous ‘Beast from the East’ brought the country to a near-standstill.) The sun is hot and strong, though, and the Suffolk wheat fields a glowing, golden carpet for miles in every direction. Rural England – or what remains of it – at its very best. What better chance to take off the Targa top – no chance of that before – and see what this gracefully ageing but at the same time wonderfully characterful machine can do?
The short answer is: pretty much anything you might reasonably want it to. It is said that you can never have too much power, but for road use the now roughly 300bhp and broad torque spread are more than enough to make the old girl fly, with a delightful rasp from either the induction or the exhaust system – or maybe both; hard to tell. Who needs some peaky, turbocharged monster? Given this beauty, not me.
Sinuous single-carriageway roads are the order of the day round here, and for miles at a time we are calmly but deceptively quickly cantering along in either third gear or sometimes fourth, the muscular punch from behind propelling me satisfyingly quickly out of slower corners, or occasionally allowing me to overtake where that would otherwise be impossible. I can’t back up that perception with any figures, but you just know when a car feels right – and I have every confidence that its higher-speed motorway response would – in the appropriate gear – be just as beguiling. It’s a genuine mile-eater, this one.
No less appealing for real-world driving is the now smooth and docile low-speed tractability – you can trickle along at 30mph in fourth gear if you wish, and even accelerate from that state if you are feeling lazy – and it’s hard to see how overall fuel consumption wouldn’t be improved, too. Unless, of course, you drive as much on the throttle as this conversion will surely prompt you to.
Duncan Lang’s 964 Targa is very much a work in progress, but it is structurally sound, and as the test ‘mule’ for PIE Performance’s clever and effective ECU and solid-state induction system it is mechanically good, too. With the notable exception of the brakes, which despite some recent first aid to the linkage from the pedal across the cabin still require a worryingly hard shove to do anything useful. No mater, though: a chance for Horton to return once again for another how-to story on fixing this common problem