Most tuned cars you see in this magazine follow a simple axiom we've come to regard as "OEM Plus." We didn't invent the term, because we've heard it used before. So the advent of OEM Plus as a concept just seemed happen on its own, sort of like intelligent life or universes. It means subtle, balanced performance upgrades and mild cosmetic modifications. Stuff in the vein of what you'd see in a massaged factory car like something out of BMW's M division or Audi's Quattro GmbH.
BBI Autosport seems to follow the OEM Plus mantra in its projects. The company was founded about five years ago by Betim Berisha, who had worked previously at Porsche Motorsport. He was then joined in 2007 by Joey Seely, who had worked previously on a pair of Porsche ALMS race teams. So the guys definitely have the credentials. And these two cars out of BBI's Huntington Beach, Calif., shop embody the OEM Plus philosophy as well as any we've seen-one from the old school, one from the new.
'07 Cayman S
A lot of guys really love their cars. We get it. But to what degree do you really love yours?
Some guys love the way the car shines after a fresh coat of wax and a Q-tip wheel pedicure, love it most as it sits there gleaming in the driveway. Some guys love the way 500+ hp tends to blow the doors off slow-moving Buicks. Some guys like to try and impress girls with inventive car-speak (invariably without great success).
In Jan Cilliers' case, he just loves his car. Loves it. You know the kid at Christmas who just tore the wrapping paper off the shiny red firetruck? That's Jan and his Cayman.
According to BBI's Joey Seely, Cilliers came around through a Cayman club forum. His intention was building a car he could take and drive to and at the track, while learning the vehicle and improving his driving skill.
To that end, the Cayman has been set up as a sharpened track-day tool while retaining its overall street drivability. The chassis is now suspended over remote-reservoir JRZ double-adjustable dampers with Hyperco main springs and Swift helpers. The front wheels are dialed in using Tarett Engineering camber plates. The front and rear control arms have been replaced by 997 GT3 RSR units set up specifically for this project, with GT3 and Tarett antiroll bars connected to Tarett drop links front and rear, respectively. In addition, BBI was able to extend the car's wheelbase by and inch and a half in the process of setting up the rear suspension.
The interior half-cage is an especially nice touch, serving both as racetrack insurance and to stiffen the chassis. BBI fabricated this from scratch, taking notes from various Cayman owners and designing the structure with a bolt-in X-brace that can be removed for quick access to the engine compartment.
The brakes remain factory assemblies that have been sharpened by Pagid yellow pads and braided stainless lines. A Brembo big brake conversion from Race Technologies is in the works.
For street or show, Cilliers rolls on 19-inch HRE P40 forged monoblock wheels with Michelin PS2 rubber. Before hitting the track he bolts up Champion Motorsport 18s with more aggressive Toyo R888s.
The engine has likewise been subject to similar OEM upgrades with a sprinkling of proprietary and BBI-recommended upgrades. First off, the induction system was seriously reworked with a cold-air intake and an IPD plenum mated to an 82mm GT3 RS throttle body, which in turn feeds into an intake manifold taken from a 3.8-liter 997 Carrera S. To allow the manifold to fit, the entire engine had to be lowered three-quarters of an inch, requiring custom mounts and bushings to be fabricated for both power unit and transmission. According to BBI's Seely, this was the most challenging aspect of the build, getting the motor to fit beneath its lid without dropping it onto the subframe or stressing the driveshaft at an awkward angle.
Since these cars are known to boil the stock system under hard track use (think plastic reservoir soufflé), the original power steering has been removed in its entirety and replaced with an electric-assist unit from a GT3 RSR. The control unit was installed up front beneath the boot lid along with a lightweight Braille battery. With a lighter BBI underdrive pulley further slowing down accessory operations, this upgrade alone was able to net some 10 hp throughout the powerband. (The BBI pulley is good for a claimed 8 whp by itself.)
The exhaust from the catalysts back was replaced with BBI's own lightweight, ceramic-coated construct. It's designed with a signature X-pipe just in front of the dual central exits to help merge exhaust pulses and smooth flow. According to Seely, the X-pipe also has the added benefit of giving the car a little more aural drama with a high-pitched scream at high rpm. "Higher in the revs it starts to wail," he says. "It's not necessarily a characteristic Porsche sound... but there it is."
Additional preventative upgrades include a GT3 air/oil separator on the intake tract to prevent oil from seeping into the induction stream under heavy-load corners, and a third central radiator core (taken from the PDK Cayman) behind the front bumper cover.
The array of upgrades was significant enough to begin throwing engine fault codes when the ECU's torque-limiting parameters began freaking out. BBI turned matters over to Todd Knighton at Protomotive, who has experience in these matters.
With the custom code grafted into the computer, the car now puts down an estimated 300 hp and change at the tires. This goes to the pavement via a custom Guard limited-slip diff. And since output levels like this are liable to start causing hell with the gearbox, a custom internal build has been scheduled, as well as further diff upgrades, to preclude breakage.
Jan's knowledge and skill have progressed alongside his Cayman, to the point now that he's offering his own suggestions on what to upgrade next. And his enthusiasm has only grown; he was reportedly spotted at his last lap session literally bouncing off the tarmac with excitement.
Definitely our kind of guy.
2007 Porsche Cayman S
Longitudinal mid engine, rear-wheel drive
3.4-liter flat six, dohc, 24-valve. GT3 RSR electric power steering unit, Braille battery, GT3 air/oil separator, 997 S intake manifold, IPD competition plenum with 997 GT3 throttle body, cold air intake, auxiliary center radiator, BBI underdrive pulley, BBI exhaust with center-exit X-pipe, Protomotive software
Six-speed manual. B&M short shifter, Aasco flywheel, Sachs sport clutch, Guard limited-slip differential
JRZ double-adjustable dampers, Hyperco main springs with Swift helpers, Tarett Engineering front camber plates, GT3 front antiroll bar, Tarett rear antiroll bar, Tarett drop links, 997 GT3 RSR front and rear control arms, Tarett rear toe links
BBI braided stainless lines, Pagid yellow pads, GT3 Cup lower brake ducts
Wheels and Tires
HRE P40, 19-inch
Michelin Pilot Sport PS2
Factory aero kit, exterior aluminum package, ZunSport front grilles
BBI bolt-in chrome-moly roll hoop with removable X-brace, Cobra Suzuka carbon/Alcantara seats, Schroth six-point harnesses, GT3 steering wheel, Alcantara shift boot, handbrake, armrest
Peak Power: 310 hp
*BBI est. at the wheels
At the Targa Trophy 2010 Hollywood to San Diego kick-off event this past June, we announced our intention to pick an "Editor's Choice" award from the field of participating entries. For that first leg, we chose Joey Seely's 1985 911 Carrera.
One of the few vintage European cars to participate in a field where the mean age of entries was, conservatively speaking, two years or so, Seely's 911 is a literally shining example of the reigning European sports car icon. In a glimmering sea of late 2000-somethings it may have seemed almost a relic. But given its age and the degree to which it has been driven-the odo turned over 215,000 miles at the rally's midway point-it remains in phenomenal shape. And since Seely is one of the chiefs at BBI, this car has been set up to run, and run hard.
Seely had a raced-out 944 that became his daily driver/commuter by default when he began work in the ALMS. Eventually he got tired of driving that on the street and began looking for something a little less hard-nosed. It was around this time that the 911 popped up.
Seely figures he's the car's third owner, but it was already in pretty good shape when he bought it and it came with a few modifications already in place. The transmission, for one, was the original 915 five-speed, but included a shorter 7:31 ring and pinion, a 935 fifth gear for expanded top end, and a Guard limited-slip differential with 935 one-piece bearing retainer. The car also came with front brake calipers from a 964 RS America that have since been fitted with Pagid orange pads and braided brake lines. (The owner also promises the brake assemblies as a whole will get bigger in the near future with help from Wrightwood Racing.)
The suspension came pretty much bone stock, but after his first track session with the car Seely decided it wouldn't remain that way for long. To hear him tell it, one upgrade led to another, that upgrade led to the next, and on and on. "It took on a life of its own," he says. "I just started looking for the baddest stuff I could get that would just bolt into place. Each part tied into the next."
To start, every bushing has been replaced with a urethane piece. The torsion bars were replaced with 23mm and 31mm hollow bars front and rear, respectively, and the dampers with Bilstein RSRs. A Tarett Engineering bump steer kit and Weltmeister steering rack spacers were installed to help correct front-end geometry on the low-slung Carrera. Adjustable front and rear antiroll bars (with reinforced rear mounts) were also sourced from Tarett.
Seely's wheels are custom forged alloys based on a modified design from VIP Modular Wheels. Toyo R888s provide the contact patch.
Power mods on the 3.2 have been kept to a minimum at this point: SSI headers, a custom 2.5-inch exhaust (with the BBI X-pipe), and a mild Powerchip software tune. Seely estimates the car puts about 210 hp to the ground; it laid down 205 without the exhaust.
The bigger story with this car though is its utterly minimalist nature, and ultimately, its resulting light weight. The car came from Zuffenhausen without power-assisted steering or brakes, and no ABS or stability/traction control. Then Seely deleted virtually every superfluous creature comfort: heat, air conditioning, radio. There are no windshield washers or reservoir, no cruise control. It's just you and the car. Sort of the way nature intended.
Inside, the stock seats were replaced with Euro-spec GT3 buckets, and the door linings with handmade RS-style panels. It's speculated the car currently weighs about 2,300 pounds, and there's still more to do. A rear seat/bulkhead delete and cage are next on the list.
But possibly the only thing more endearing than its mechanical specs are its good looks. There are a few personal touches like the '76 Turbo "Whale Tail" and composite RS bumper. The exhaust outlets have been neatly routed through the bumper; Seely got the idea after he removed the DOT-mandated "bumperettes" from the stock bumper and was faced with six unsightly holes.
Over the course of its mods, the 911's handling has gone from good to exceptional. There's now zero push in high-load corners and the car remains completely neutral. "Cornering speeds are blistering," Seely says, and we have to believe it. In the twisties, it'll hang with cars putting out three times the power. Which is kind of the point. "Our modified CLK Black Series with almost 600 hp and double adjustable JRZs couldn't hang with it at the track," Seely says with audible satisfaction.
Considering vintage Porsches are outside the company's focus, this is a project that really does seem to have taken on a life of its own. But: "There's more to come, and it will only get better," Seely promises, which could mean some downtime for the car as various systems are taken out and taken apart. "I think I need to find another daily driver."
3.2-liter flat six, dohc, 12-valve. SSI headers, BBI exhaust with X-pipe, Powerchip software
Five-speed manual. 935 fifth gear and shortened ring and pinion, Guard Transmission limited-slip differential, 935 one-piece bearing retainer, Sachs sport clutch, Wevo semi-solid transmission mount, Wevo short shifter and coupler
Bilstein RSR dampers, hollow torsion bars (23mm/31mm f/r), Tarett Engineering front bump steer kit, Tarett adjustable antiroll bars with reinforced rear mounts, Weltmeister steering rack spacers, front stress bar, polyurethane bushings throughout
964 RS America front calipers, Pagid orange pads, braided lines
Wheels and Tires
BBI VIP modular alloys, 18-inch Toyo R888
Custom RS-style door panels, Euro-spec GT3 seats, white instrumentation, Momo Prototipo steering wheel
Peak Power: 210 hp
*BBI est. at the wheels