It's been a while since Project 951 has graced our pages. Even with some evidence of blow-by, our 20-year-old four-banger was making over 338 wheel-hp over a year ago on pump fuel at 17 psi, but we decided to get into the motor and freshen it up anyway. And with ring gap findings of up to 0.070-inch, it's a good thing we did.
To get things rolling on the rebuild, a number of factory parts were ordered from Performance Products, including piston rings, engine bearings, a long-block gasket kit and seal kit, valves and valve guides. We decided to keep the factory rods and pistons.Precision Motion pulled the camshaft and sent it to Web Cam, a cam grinding company that's been in business since World War II. On top of various Porsche models, Web Cam also provides cam upgrades for Austin Healey, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz and VW. Ours has 254-degree duration for the intake and exhaust with a 0.480-inch lift (12.1mm), and a 234-degree duration at 0.050-inch lift. It's totally streetable and intended to improve midrange and top end power. By comparison, our stock cam was 222 degrees intake and 216 degrees exhaust at 0.050-inch lift.
The cylinder head went to Fumio Fukaya of Fukaya Enterprises. He cleaned up the head and installed our new valve guides, as well as performing a high performance valve job, where Fukaya basically blueprints the head. He not only provides a three-angle radius cut, but also sets everything to the exact same height, spring tension and flow. To achieve this, minimal porting was involved.
With the car's engine internals out, there was going to be significant down time. What else could be taken care of in the meantime? Something had to be done about Project 951's instrument cluster. Like most cars of its day, the gauge cluster lighting was way too dim. North Hollywood Speedometer offers the perfect solution for 944s, 356s and old 911s that involves a trick LED conversion. The turnaround time is about three weeks. When ours came back, Precision installed it. It looks much better, more updated, without losing the factory appearance. Look at the pics and you can see we also opted for the 200-mph speedometer upgrade from NHS, which the firm calibrated accurately.
When an instrument cluster is removed from any 1985.5 to 1999 Porsche 944, it's a good time to order an odometer gear to replace the styrene-based plastic factory unit that's so prone to failing. Rennbay sells an ABS- and glass-filled nylon gear, which is a direct replacement and guaranteed for life not to break. North Hollywood was kind enough to install ours.
Back to the motor. Once Precision Motion finished it, we spent the first couple of hundred miles driving it easily, with continuous rpm variations with hard throttle-off deceleration to properly seat the rings. We then took the car to Tuning Technologies in Colton, California. There, a Dynojet 424x dynamometer told us the car was doing OK. An untuned 290-wheel-hp pull at our minimum 15 psi told us we were off to a good start. For now, we'll be spinning the new odometer gear another thousand miles or two, just to make sure everything is fine with the new engine.
Next, John Vitesse of Vitesse Racing will be converting Project 951 back to a Mass Air Flow (MAF) system. His goals for the car coincide with ours and we're excited to be getting him involved.