BACK FOR ANOTHERHELPING OF PIE

911 Porsche World - - Practical Porsche - With 911 & Porsche World’s con­sul­tant ed­i­tor, Chris Hor­ton

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

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