CSF 996 TURBO
CSF Cooling boss Ravi Dolwani and his modded 996 Turbo
The Porsche 996 Turbo appears to be hitting smoother pavement lately; this model has depreciated to more affordable than new or most classic 911 levels, and serves up tremendous performance. As the first watercooled 911, the 996 has gone through its Shock and Awe phase with air-cooled-only enthusiast types, and is now finding a more ready audience than perhaps when it was new in 1999. More good news is that its Mezger based engine is immune to all of the IMS bearing risks that can impact several naturally aspirated 996 models. And for most Porsche buyers, this is as close to a 959 as they’re likely to own: twin turbos, big power, all-wheel drive and a 6speed manual gearbox.
Fortunately for Ravi Dolwani, the 996 Turbo has significant cooling needs; it employs radiators, intercoolers and oil coolers, too. Why is this a boost for Southern California based enthusiast Dolwani? Because he’s CEO of CSF Radiators, which just happens to produce high quality, high performance aluminium radiators, intercoolers and oil coolers. And while of course his fabulous paint-to-sample Minerva Blue Metallic 2002 Turbo wears a full complement of his company’s products, it is so very much more than that.
It was delivered to its first US owner in early 2003, and came about fully loaded. The window sticker evidences a $115,000 base price, with no upcharge for the paint to sample metallic finish (perhaps because it was a factory offered 1970s and ’80s Porsche colour already, found on some number of 930s and 928s), Graphite Grey full leather, or the US Emissions package. The Full Light Walnut wood interior group
Fortunately for Ravi, the 996 Turbo has significant cooling needs
was a spendy $7825, and the rest of this car’s options list ran the 16-years-ago sticker to $133,175 – try buying a new Turbo for that now!
Dolwani’s car over time had crisscrossed North America and three previous owners before landing in his hands just a few years back, although it has yet to turn its “50,000th mile. Thus it’s in many ways still quite fresh, still wearing excellent original paint (all rust free original body panels remain intact), although the front seats were retrimmed in full leather in 2014. Each owner has modified or upgraded the car along the trail to make it the dazzler it is today. Dolwani has left many of those mods in place, and also replaced or redone a few others; making it much racier, while still maintaining its adult gran turismo persona. The last thing he wanted was a bone crushing, poor riding Turbo that would be great on track days, but miserable for everyday or weekend away driving. Think of it as a home brewed cross between a Turbo S and a GT2.
Body mods are subtle yet effective, with the car looking the biz from any angle. The front fascia and Aero side window mirrors come courtesy of R Turbo. The rear bumperettes have been shaved away. The rear wing is a carbon-fibre Techart piece, finished in body colour, all except for a strip of the carbon-fibre weave which was masked off and remains in view – a very handsome touch. The trunk liner is a Schild piece, and the entire front end and headlights are EXPEL clearbra protected, as are other touchpoint and wear surfaces around the car. The cabin is largely stock, save two major adds, and a set of charcoal grey RUF floormats. The first is an upgraded, Porsche full Alcantara steering wheel, and the second, which you cannot miss, is a paint matched GMG Motorsports roll bar, which mounts the oil reservoirs for the Moton suspension components. Dolwani points out that the lacquer on the wood trim is beginning to check and craze a bit, so he’s contemplating refinishing or replacement with genuine carbon-fibre trim bits, to keep up with the level of the sharpness of the rest of the cabin and the retrimmed leather seats.
Things get more serious in the engine
Think of it as a home brewed cross between a Turbo S and a GT2
bay; the stock turbos are binned in favor of hybrid units by UMW employing 997 GT2 turbine wheels; more air through, more air in. UMW also provides the 3-inch intake pipes, and the new intercoolers are 997 GT2 RS pieces. It all breathes in via a carbon-fibre dual intake snorkel airbox, and sits firmly on Wevo engine mounts. Fuel pressure is also cranked up to 5 bar, and the fuel pump is a GT2 piece. The intake diverter valves are forged billet aluminium bits, and the hoses that carry boost are Samco silicone units. Updated/upgraded power steering pump and fluid reservoir come courtesy of a 997. Just to make sure all the electrics were sharp enough to deliver their max best, the O2 sensors, alternator, boost control valve, manifold dual switch, fuel pump relay and battery were all replaced. Naturally, all three radiators are CSF aluminum components, which fit in the stock mountings and locations.
A Speedtech high performance exhaust system replaces the stock mufflers and pipework for maximum performance with more and better sound quality; the new pipes are finished off with Porsche accessory polished stainless faux twin-split tips for a quad pipe look. The result of the motor mods, all of which are external to the engine, boils out a dyno verified 515 horsepower at the wheels, and a mountain moving 585lb ft of torque – remembering that the engine is still a 3.6, not a punched and drilled 3.8, 4.0 or 4.1. The stock horsepower rating was 415 at the flywheel, not at the wheels. So the 100 horsepower and massive torque gains are real, and make it to the ground.
The factory rolling stock hit the floor in favour of RUF 19-inch five-spoke alloys wrapped by Hankook Ventus V12 evo2 245/35ZR19S front, and Ventus V12 evo2 305/30ZR19S aft. The brakes have been fully updated and upgraded using top shelf Porsche components, with GT3 yellow 6piston calipers up front, and yellow 4-piston calipers aft, running Endless MX-78 brake pads front and rear. The slotted 350mm rotors are from Girodisc. A GT3RS has donated its brake cooling ducts.
The suspension has also been given a thorough spa treatment, in the form of mild lowering fore and aft, Moton Clubsport adjustable dampers, Mode camber plates, 450 pound front springs with 700 pounders in back. The new front and rear anti-roll bars are sourced from TPC, and TRG contributed front and rear droplinks. RSS front adjustable upper control arms work in harmony with adjustable front steering arms to address any potential bumpsteer. The rear upper control arms are also adjustable pieces, the whole set up offering maximum tailorability in terms of stiffness, compression, rebound, roll and ride quality.
Even though the engine is internally stock, the transmission isn’t; it’s been rebuilt and freshened with new steel synchros on 3rd through 5th gears. The shifter and trans mounts are all 997 pieces. A Sachs sport
clutch works with a lightened flywheel.
Enough pieces and parts; time to drive. Dolwani’s Turbo fires easily as would any unmodified example, burbling deeply from its big pipes, and sounding just that much edgier than a stocker would. The 997 shifter falls nicely to hand, and snick-snicks through the gears. The clutch takeup is smooth and clean while asking none too many more revs for a crisp getaway. Into second, and foot to the floor really wakes up the turbos. We didn’t have the opportunity to instrument test this car, but 0–60 is surely a sub four-second move. A quick shift to third and the boost just keeps on coming in a quick lag free run up to an easy 100mph.
From there on, we’re only limited by road and traffic conditions; Dolwani has had the car up to “an easy 140” and “150 isn’t much beyond that.” By any measure, definition or context, this car is fast. Like GT2 fast, or better.
Steering response is instant and mush free, the car really responding to all driver inputs. Any notion of bodyroll has been vanquished, yet the ride quality remains on the firm side of supple with some but not harmful increase in road noise or rumble over a stocker. Mature, civilised, with two scoops of crazy fast on top. The big bore exhaust thrums and pops a bit; always there but never too much.
Dolwani credits Global Motorsports Group (GMG) for the car’s well synthesized build and top notch maintenance, as well as the three previous owners for making mostly smart moves and not ruining it. You won’t tempt Dolwani with talk of GT2 RSS, GT3S, 911Rs or 992s – he’s happy with his car just the way it is, and now has it right where he wants it. “I think of it as a canvas that’s been painted on by four different artists and somehow our visions all came together very harmoniously.” His goal was to increase his car’s performance over a stock 996 Turbo in every measurable parameter, without ruining it as a semi daily or weekend trip driver. “It’s great on the track, but I didn’t want a racecar that punishes me on the freeway.” Sounds like a guy who not only has what he wants, but wants what he has. PW
The ride quality remains on the firm side of supple
The stand out visual feature of Ravi Dolwani’s 996 Turbo is, of course, its eyepopping Minerva Blue paintwork
An example of CSF’S Porsche radiator range. Ultra high quality, with enhanced cooling capability. Shame to hide it away really
CSF Radiators’ main man, Ravi Dolwani. You’d be smiling, too, with a 996 Turbo like his!
Cooling solutions from CSF. Uprated radiators with specially shaped cooling fins, plus central radiators for extra cooling capability
The lowdown. Ravi’s 996 Turbo sits just right. Styling is kind of a cross between 996 Turbo S and 996 GT2
GMG installed rear cage is painted in Minerva Blue to match the exterior. Also supports the remote Moton damper reservoirs. Right: Ravi is considering replacing the walnut trim with carbon-fibre
It’s a street machine, not a track weapon, so it retains a level of street compliance
Left: Ruf five-spoke wheel is one of the all time great alloy wheel designs. Below: Engine looks externally stock, but there’s enough going on out of sight to boost power to 515bhp