BIG BANG THE­ORY

GT-R tuner turns its ex­per­tise to tur­bocharged 991 Car­reras with qui­etly spec­tac­u­lar re­sults

911 Porsche World - - Litchfield 991 T - Words: Dan Trent Pho­tog­ra­phy: Sim Mainey

What does a man syn­ony­mous with tuned Nis­san GT-RS buy him­self for his 40th birth­day? Why, a Porsche of course! Iain Litch­field’s choice of a Car­rera T is per­haps less sur­pris­ing when you con­sider the his­tory of the highly re­spected com­pany car­ry­ing his name. Growth from an im­porter to tuner re­sulted in highly-ac­claimed cars like the Cos­worth-en­gined Type 25 Im­preza. But as fash­ions changed and Subaru fans moved into Nis­san GT-RS Litch­field was right there with them.

Whether you want a few more horses for your GT-R or a full, 1000hp-plus Time At­tack mon­ster with a bil­let engine block, wild aero and ’Ring record am­bi­tions Litch­field is your man and his work­shop, dyno and ex­per­tise are all in de­mand. But where do you go when you’ve scratched the GT-R itch, want some­thing a lit­tle more ma­ture but still crave the tur­bocharged horse­power hit? Well, you could do worse than a Litch­field-tuned Porsche. And up­grade pack­ages for 911 Tur­bos were an ob­vi­ous pro­gres­sion for both com­pany and cus­tomers alike.

Litch­field fan­cied a 911 of his own though and had his heart set on a GT3. That didn’t hap­pen but, rather than sulk about dealer al­lo­ca­tions, he put the money into a Car­rera T, spot­ting both a nice 911 to own and en­joy and a busi­ness op­por­tu­nity to de­velop tun­ing pack­ages for all sec­ond-gen 991 Car­reras us­ing the twin-turbo 3.0-litre engine. The only is­sue? Out of the box it was near-per­fect.

“It’s one of the best cars I’ve ever driven!” laughs Iain, prais­ing the sus­pen­sion, steer­ing feel, throt­tle re­sponse and ex­pan­sive power de­liv­ery of the stock 370ps/365bhp engine. His per­sonal car is a purist’s de­light, with the car­bon bucket seats, rear seat delete and op­tional rear-axle steer­ing. The man­ual gearbox ticks the en­thu­si­ast box and scores him the T’s low­ered fi­nal drive, his car al­ready liv­ing up to the ‘driver’s Car­rera’ billing. But there was un­tapped po­ten­tial and it wasn’t long be­fore Iain was work­ing to un­lock it.

Porsche of­fers its 3.0-litre turbo six in three states of tune. Start­ing with the 370ps/365bhp Car­rera you can then go to the 420ps/414bhp Car­rera S, which is iden­ti­cal bar slightly larger com­pres­sor tur­bines on the tur­bos. To that you can add the op­tional fac­tory Pow­erkit that matches them with larger ex­haust tur­bines, new map and sports ex­haust for 450ps/444bhp. This is stan­dard in the GTS and as far as you can of­fi­cially go on a Car­rera.

With a plug-in remap alone Litch­field can re­lease a Gts-beat­ing 460ps/454bhp from the base Car­rera engine, as tested on Iain’s T and care­fully tuned on the in-house dyno to max­imise driveability as well as im­proved per­for­mance. For £1994 in­clud­ing VAT, and fully re­versible if re­quired, it’s a tempt­ingly easy op­tion if you want a bit more poke from your 991 Car­rera and turns a GTS into a 500bhp-plus Turbo chaser. But this is just the first step.

Look­ing at the stock ex­haust sys­tem Iain re­alised it was hugely re­stric­tive. For those who pre­fer tun­ing to come from bolt-on me­chan­i­cal parts rather than elec­tronic tweaks even a ‘slip-on’ Akrapovic ex­haust can re­lease an ad­di­tional 19bhp and 34lb ft, a re­sult that im­pressed even the Litch­field boys. Sports cats re­lease a lit­tle more still. A Re­mus equiv­a­lent achieves sim­i­lar re­sults at a more rea­son­able price. But the real choke-point in the sys­tem was the stock, pressed-steel man­i­folds. By ac­ci­dent or de­sign these re­strict the flow of ex­haust gases to the tur­bos, cap­ping both re­sponse and power. Ad­mit­tedly there are few com­plaints about ei­ther when driv­ing the stan­dard car and Porsche has to pre­serve its range hi­er­ar­chy. But Iain reck­oned there were big gains to be made and had some tubu­lar man­i­folds fab­ri­cated to test the the­ory.

Even he was pleas­antly sur­prised at the re­sults. “The tur­bos are now spool­ing up at least 500rpm sooner and we’re see­ing 30lb ft more torque at 2000rpm and an ad­di­tional 55lb ft at 2500rpm, plus peak power at 480bhp” Num­bers are num­bers though. Proof, as al­ways, comes in the driv­ing.

Straight out of Litch­field’s gate you hit the kind of bumpy, twisty B-roads on which 911s tra­di­tion­ally shine. And be­fore the first mile the trans­for­ma­tional ef­fect of what are rel­a­tively mi­nor mod­i­fi­ca­tions shine through loud and clear. Lit­er­ally in the case of the engine, the breath­ing mods and Akrapovic ex­haust singing a louder, more in­tense tune while the tur­bos whine and hiss in a way Porsche tries to mask in the stan­dard car. But it’s the throt­tle re­sponse that re­ally stands out.

Rather than sulk about dealer al­lo­ca­tions, he put his money into a 911T

The stan­dard engine is hardly mushy, es­pe­cially when you hit the Sport but­ton. But rather than a con­trived, elec­tronic tweak to the throt­tle map­ping the im­prove­ments in this car re­sult from me­chan­i­cal changes and im­proved breath­ing. It’s not quite as sharp as the more ex­otic, nat­u­rally-as­pi­rated 4.0-litre in the GT3 vari­ants. But it’s not far off and matched with a much stronger torque de­liv­ery that gives you more op­tions on how to drive the car.

Whether you haul from fifth, or en­joy shift­ing down a cou­ple of gears for the sim­ple plea­sure of do­ing so, the Litch­field Car­rera picks up in­stantly. With so much tur­bocharged grunt and a fat mid-range to ex­ploit you might be tempted to just short-shift and leave it at that. But the im­proved breath­ing means the T is as keen on revs as it is boost, mean­ing a re­fresh­ing amount of your time is spent in the up­per reaches of the rev counter. True, a GT3 has an­other 2000rpm or so to play with and that re­mains a core USP. But to drive a mod­ern, tur­bocharged engine that revs like this one is a rare treat in this day and age. And given the good stuff is there in any gear, at any revs it’s eas­ier to ex­ploit than it is in a GT3, es­pe­cially at road speeds you might con­sider re­spon­si­ble.

The engine pack­age with the Re­mus ex­haust, sports cats and the remap costs £7354, in­clud­ing VAT and fit­ting, or £10,363 with the ti­ta­ni­u­makrapovic sys­tem. A chunk of money but not un­rea­son­able com­pared with the £7172 fac­tory Pow­erkit, which isn’t avail­able on the T.

And that’s not all. Al­though de­lighted with his T’s han­dling bal­ance fol­low­ing some track test­ing Iain reck­oned there was a lit­tle room for im­prove­ment, the front ride height in par­tic­u­lar rob­bing a lit­tle steer­ing feel. Some cus­tom springs and ad­justable beds let him play with the rake, drop­ping the front by 20mm and the rear by 10mm while 7mm spac­ers help fill the arches and take the edge off the raised spring rates. Uni­ball lower front arm bushes mean­while per­mit a tweak to the cas­tor. Stiffer side­walls on the Miche­lin Pi­lot Sport 4s also help, the pack­age adding just a lit­tle ex­tra bite to the front end and just a smidge more feed­back through the wheel. It’s hardly a stiffly sprung hand­ful but you can now sense the cam­bers and shift­ing grip lev­els through the wheel like you might on an older 911, this paired with the crisp throt­tle and pre­dictabil­ity of the T’s stan­dard me­chan­i­cal LSD re­leas­ing more of the old­school feel the T al­ways hinted at. This pack­age costs just over £2000 fit­ted but seems money well spent.

Litch­field’s up­grades are en­tirely re­spect­ful and sim­ply un­lock that fi­nal de­gree of in­ter­ac­tion the Car­rera T’s ‘en­try level’ po­si­tion­ing wouldn’t oth­er­wise al­low. It’s a tact­ful pack­age of up­grades, cre­ated and re­fined by peo­ple who re­ally know what they’re do­ing. Best of all it can work the same magic on any tur­bocharged 991 Car­rera, now or at any time in the fu­ture you may wish to con­sider it. Best driver’s 911 for road use this side of a GT3 Tour­ing or R? With a light tickle that’s ex­actly the po­ten­tial Litch­field has done to a T. PW

To drive a mod­ern turbo engine that revs like this, is a rare treat

Litch­field 991 T sits 20mm lower at the front and 10mm at the rear, on cus­tom springs. The track has been widened slightly, with 7mm spac­ers. Uni­ball front sus­pen­sion arms al­low cam­ber change

Stan­dard ex­haust is typ­i­cally re­stric­tive. Litch­field has re­placed it with a com­bi­na­tion of Re­mus sports cats and an Akrapovic ex­haust cen­tre box

Be­low left: A sim­ple remap will lib­er­ate over 450bhp. Be­low: Ex­haust is a work of ti­ta­nium art

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