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Project Porsche Boxster R Part 4: Litronic Lights and S Brakes

Aug 8, 2002 SHARE

Porsche people will hate this, but here we go: One of the qualities that has made Porsches great, and so easy to tune over the decades, is the same quality that makes a Chevy a great choice for a muscle-car project--the interchangeability of parts.

While some starting points are definitely better than others, one can turn even a lowly 912 into a serious, big-displacement race car, mostly just by bolting on parts from other Porsches. Even Volkswagen dipped into the Porsche parts bin for Super Beetle suspensions, among other things. This installment of Project Boxster R is nothing as serious as that, but it applies the same principle. While clan Boxster R's car left the factory with, in many areas, the minimum level of goodness Porsche could accept, improving those areas is a simple matter of bolting on the factory's own better parts.

This month, Les added Boxster S brakes and Litronic(R) headlights to Project Boxster R, significantly increasing safety and giving him the confidence to drive quickly whenever appropriate. Performance Products continued to be our one-stop source for all manner of Porsche upgrades, supplying these parts with a smile and a handshake, or as close as they can get to it over the phone.

Litronic(R) HeadlightsLitronic is Porsche's version of xenon lighting technology, with high-intensity-discharge low beams and halogen high beams. HID lights don't serve well when turned off and on frequently, as when dimming high beams at night. However, as low beams, Litronic units provide a 100% increase in the volume of light output compared to a 55W halogen bulb, while reducing power consumption to 35W. A xenon light, though it appears blue at night, is actually closer to daylight's "white" light spectrum than any incandescent bulb, further enhancing its ability.

As well, Litronic free-form reflectors are shaped to provide greater range in a straight line and better visibility to the side of the road. These benefits are two-fold in application. They allow one to drive more quickly on straight and on winding roads, because it's possible to see around turns better. Litronic also increases safety for the occupants of the vehicle and for kittens, puppies and children outside it, by allowing a driver to see them sooner and more clearly when they are on or near the road ahead of the vehicle.

The Litronic Headlight Retrofit Kit supplied by Performance Products is a Genuine Porsche(R) part, the same that can be ordered through any dealer before or after delivery as Tequipment, Porsche's factory customization program. There is one kit for all Boxsters and 996s. Porsche has discontinued the kit for the 993. The kit includes the headlamps, control unit and wiring, everything required for a direct bolt-on fit.

In the future, these lights should prevent us from repeating the experience of having a Ford Focus run away and hide on a winding road at night because its driver could actually see around the turns.

Boxster S BrakesOnly about 100-lb heavier than the ordinary Boxster, the Boxster S has dramatically better braking ability, and well it should: Porsche simply did as we are doing and went up its own food chain to the 911 Carrera to source larger cross-drilled discs. They measure 318mm (12.53-in.) in diameter by 28mm (1.10-in.) thick in front and 299mm (11.78-in.) in diameter by 24mm (0.94-in.) thick in the rear. Standard Boxster discs are 298mm (11.73 in.) by 24mm (0.94 in.) in front and 292mm (11.50 in.) by 20mm (0.79 in.) in the rear. The calipers are Porsche's "monoblock" four-piston calipers, derived from those used on the GT1 race car, machined from a single aluminum casting to reduce unsprung weight and increase heat rejection.

Bigger rotors provide greater thermal capacity for a single use and more surface area to shed heat between uses. More rigid calipers reduce deflection under load, enhancing brake pedal feel. Unlike a front-only big-brake upgrade, this system divides the increase in braking capacity between front and rear axles, taking advantage of the Boxster's rear-mid-engine weight bias and low center of mass. Be warned, however, that this kit, because it was engineered for the street, may still require more aggressive pads to perform well under full-on racetrack use.

Performance Products sources these parts from Race Technologies, an independent distributor of Brembo products that works closely with Brembo. The kit includes everything required to bolt Boxster S brakes on an ordinary Boxster: calipers, rotors, front and rear pads, DOT-approved stainless-steel braided brake lines, all necessary shoes, retainers, springs, bearings, mounting plates and fasteners. Thus, installation was a simple remove and reinstall procedure, followed by careful bleeding. Be sure to follow correct procedures for bleeding the ABS.

I have the rather odd limited experience of having leaned on a factory Boxster S, but not the Boxster. That said, the Boxster S brakes provide all the reassuring feedback and certainty of stopping ability one could want, even on a race track. Whenever and wherever, they yanked the heavy car down from speed, time and time again. At one point, Rhys Millen took ec's long-term Boxster S around The Streets of Willow Springs and was quite complimentary. Les whined voluminously that his Boxster--pre-"R"--did not approach that performance.

Thankfully, there will be fewer excuses for our Senior Editor to be grumpy in the future. As Porsche's Boxster ad said, the more kids you have, the more practical it becomes. We'll soon know whether Les' diversion of funds from his therapist bill was successful.

Performance Products
8000 Haskell Ave.
{{{Van}}} Nuys, CA. 91406
(800) 588-7472
www.performanceproducts.com
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