The wife caught me the other day.
I was "doing it" with ec's long-term Boxster S, massaging its silvery flanks with great gouts of liquid wax and then carefully wiping them off with soft, clean towels. Had I turned the hose onto her new Astro van and gotten rid of two weeks worth of dust and dirt, it wouldn't have been so bad, but what's the point--it's a van, her van. Adding insult to injury, the Porsche was parked in the garage while the Chevy sat outside in the blazing sun, effectively melting together the Gummi Bears, Skittles and assorted foodstuffs that inhabit its every nook and cranny. I didn't care, though--if our long-term Boxster S was going away soon, I intended to spend its last few weeks embracing it, pampering it, loving it.
That is perhaps the toughest part of this job--saying goodbye to long-term test cars. You fall in love and then they leave. And I'd be lying if I said that this wasn't going to be one of the most painful goodbyes I've ever made. Drive a Boxster S yourself and you'll know what I mean. I'd been toying with the idea of getting a Boxster for some time--the urge to get one washed over me like mom's hot-flashes--I guess it was just my time to go through "the change." But then of course it hit me--I don't have any money. Despite the fact used Boxsters are coming off lease and can be had for reasonable sums, I couldn't come up with the dough--by myself anyway. There was an option, however: spread the cost among cousins. It worked with our MasterCraft ski boat, so there's no reason it shouldn't work here. In many ways this was an ideal setup, as we all had the same mindset--we wanted a high-performance street car, not a track car. Nobody had aspirations of becoming Joe Racer. None of us wanted a Boxster as a daily driver (though it is possible). And we all wanted a car that looked and performed better than a base Boxster, customized but with a factory-correct appearance. We devised an elaborate time-sharing system and special insurance coverage and headed off in search of a car.
Our first choice would have been a Boxster S (actually it was my first choice), but at 50 grand that just wasn't going to happen. However, used Boxsters run from the high 20s to mid-to-high 30s and present an exceptional used-car deal. Like most Porsches, you want to buy the latest model you can afford, especially since the Boxster got a power bump several years into its production (you do pay for the extra ponies, however). We found a great '98 with low miles that looks like the little brother of our silver Boxster S. Equipped with a five-speed transmission, 16-in. wheels, leather, power package and a perfect body, it was within our financial means. Moreover, the owner was desperate to sell the car, which made the deal even sweeter. I had nothing to do with the negotiations because I am known as a "lay-down" in salesman terms--that means easy to screw. Tell me how much you want for something and I'll pay it--no bartering, no bickering. My cousins, on the other hand, are like Yankee traders negotiating for cotton--shrewd, devious, avaricious.
The deal done, all eyes turned to me as project leader--no one even wanted to drive it until it was tuned. At my insistence, we attended a NASA driving event where skilled instructors put the Boxster through its paces. Even with the almost-bald Bridgestone tires, my cousins were amazed at the Porsche's capabilities--certain they were going to die one moment and thrilled the next. My goal was to educate my cousins on the Boxster's excellent chassis, school them on how damn good the car is right out of the box. That night, over beers, barbecue and track lies, all eyes turned to me again: "We want to go faster," was pretty much the common theme.
I wasn't really surprised, because there's no such thing as too much performance, just like there's no such thing as too much sex. We all wanted more, even if our aging near-40 bodies couldn't handle the strain. That said, I set upon building the uber Boxster, a car that would closely emulate the S model I was going to so badly miss.
I remembered the folks at Performance Products had massaged a base Boxster several years ago. I also remember I liked the results. Thumbing through Performance Products' sizable four-color catalog revealed a ton of cool 986-specific stuff that had us drooling like fraternity boys in Daytona. Based in Van Nuys, Calif., Performance Products has been in the Porsche accessory business for nearly 3 decades and is perhaps the most impressive mail-order group this writer has ever seen--it sends out some 5 million catalogs per year. Performance Products manages its massive warehouse inventory with a state-of-the-art mail-order computer system that redefines the word organized.
In addition to carrying an extensive line of genuine Porsche parts presented in an easy-to-follow, illustrated guide, Performance Products uses many of Porsche's sub-contractors (Dansk, Brembo/Race Technologies, Hella) to fabricate its own products. It also carries premium lines from Weltmeister, B&M, RH, K&N, PMO and a ton of specialty tools for at-home wrenchers. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of Performance Product's operation is the people employed there--these folks have intimate knowledge of the stuff they sell, because chances are they use it on their own cars. In the same way Home Depot (I want my ashes sprinkled there when I die) hires skilled tradesmen to work specific areas, so has Performance Products.
Although Rick Adams, Performance Products' marketing manager, has the laid-back demeanor of a long-board surfer, there's a sharp mind behind those Ray Bans. We met up with Rick at Performance Product's Open House/Car Show where a fabulous assortment of classic and late-model Porsche's presented an orgy of ideas. It was both enlightening and frustrating--we wanted to emulate everything from the 996 biturbo to the spartan '73 RS that showed up that day.
"An R, dude...we've got to make it a Boxster R" said Rick. That made perfect sense, as Porsche already has an S and will undoubtedly introduce an RS in the near future. A Boxster R, then, is a Porsche just a few horsepower away from an S-spec car. Performance Products catalog in hand, we set out with a specific goal in mind--Project Boxster R will utilize bolt-on hardware to enhance every aspect of itself--running gear, suspension, brakes, aerodynamics, engine upgrades, aerodynamics and interior appointments.
8000 Haskell Ave.
Van Nuys, CA 91406