The Porsche 997 Turbo - widely considered to be the pinnacle of the everyday supercar. Aside from the evolved 911 body, we are talking about all wheel drive combined with twin turbo power, in a package that is comfortable and usable everyday. These are the main features that come to mind when you are talking to the typical owner that is looking for an elevated piece of the Porsche brand history.
Now let's take it a step further, we all know these cars have power and performance capabilities above and beyond the stock package, so many owners of this model have gone down the road of wheel, tire, suspension packages, ecu tunes, exhausts and a bevy of bolt on/plug and play goodies that are readily available from a plethora of tuners. So what do you do when you want to take it to the next level, and bend the rules beyond what most would normally think is the threshold of performance and functional cosmetic enhancements? If this is the arena you desire to dabble in, then BBi Autosport is top of the list when you are looking to take Porsche performance to a bespoke, one-of-a-kind level. The 997 Turbo you see here, known as Projekt Grip is the result of one owner and one shops vision to take performance to the next dimension. Blurring the lines between motorsport and street to create a car that takes 997 Turbo performance to new heights, in a package that is razor focused and cutting edge.
Recently, BBi Autosport offered Targa Trophy a weekend to test and see for ourselves how the enhancements made to Projekt Grip feel to the everyday enthusiast. As you would suspect, we gladly accepted the invitation...
So Cal is an interesting landscape, filled with all sorts of terrain that can offer extreme levels of fun to the driving enthusiast. For this test, we decided to head into LA and dive into the chaos to see how this car stacks up on the daily city grind, while including testing on some of the best back roads So Cal has to offer.
Santa Monica would be our first destination, with our first stop being at the well known Viceroy Hotel on Ocean Ave for a quick meeting. As we drove around Santa Monica on our way to the hotel, we quickly realized Projekt Grip is no joke when it comes to it's visual and aural presence as many a street walker stopped to admire the sights and sounds from this twin turbo beast.
As we pulled up to the valet, we made it clear they had to provide a space for the car as this was no ride to take chances with. Front row accommodations were provided and we must say, the car looked quite good surrounded by the contemporary design of the Viceroy entrance.
Once our business was handled at Viceroy, it was time to get on with the day as our next stop was to visit the first MFEST event of the year at Pacific BMW. As we got on the 10 freeway, we started to make observations about Projekt Grip.
First things first, this car is as close as you'll get to a race car for the street with out being gutted of it's interior and fully caged up. From the cockpit, the ride is handled by way of Recaro fixed Profi race seats and a custom upgraded steering wheel with an extra thick wheel for ultimate feel. This combination offers a true drivers seating position while being pretty comfortable for a race seat, ultimately making for the best way to handle 600+ horsepower on the road.
The next thing that must be navigated is the advanced drivetrain Projekt Grip sports. Let's start with the clutch - an item on Grip that was designed strictly for the hard core. This car is outfitted with a bespoke Stage 2 clutch by BBi. This is a single disc ceramic clutch that basically operates just like a Carrera GT, which if you have not driven one before, is a tricky bitch as the engage point is high and sensitive, thus offering the best scenario for quick launches and race car like feel. This combined with a bolt action 6 speed transmission with an upgraded 996 Cup car shifter and cables, you have a machine that is meant to be driven hard at all times.
Next lets talk about the footwork on this car. This is something that will be discussed again later in this piece, so let's start with the easy stuff. The car rides on center lock Motegi Racing Techno Mesh Wheels straight off an FIA GT3 race car. These wheels roll on Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires all mated to Brembo 6 piston front/4 piston rear GT calipers. At this point, you know this car is beyond most levels of performance from your typical 997 Turbo.
This is a serious set up for serious drivers and delivers a ride on the city streets and highway that is compliant yet about as extreme as you can have for any road going vehicle. This set up is probably not for everybody, but then again, this car is not meant for everyone either.
As we make our way into the Glendale area we got a call from a friend of the Targa Trophy family who wanted to meet up and check out the MFEST event and do a little driving afterwards.
We pulled up to the event, and in typical MFEST fashion, the place was packed and we could not even get a spot inside the show, so we proceeded to park in some covered parking at the dealership where we ran into our buddy in his 2009 Lamborghini Murcielago LP-640. We parked the cars and walked over to the show to check it out and touch base with MFEST Chris to say what's up.
The MFEST event was packed and there was M car mania in full effect.
We saw many familiar faces as we cruised around and spotted some familiar rides as well including our buddy John Morgan Evans and his Hamann Range Rover Evoque chilling out in the show.
Then we bumped into Heavy Hitters head honcho John Jarasa and shot the shit with him for a while. John is a cool dude and one of legends of magazine publishing around these parts, so it's always an interesting conversation when you see him.
We cruised around a bit more and checked out most of the rides on display. Once we had our fill we decided to grab the whips and hit the road, ready to get into the fun part of the days adventure.
As you could imagine, a car with a drivetrain like Projekt Grip doesn't like going slow or moving through traffic, but it can manage. We are pretty confident the Murcielago is a bit more comfortable in this situation... if you can believe that.
Once we made our way to the freeway, it was time to let these cars breathe a bit.
As we merged onto the freeway, the Murcie accelerated hard and Projekt Grip was right there with speed to match, with sounds coming from both cars that would make anyone grin like a kid in a candy store.
That being said, let's get into the engine dynamics of Projekt Grip. Grip runs a fully built 3.8 liter twin turbo mill with custom BBi Autosport stainless steel headers, their custom BBi Bar Code Exhaust, custom software, IPD intake plenum and a GT3 RS throttle body for good measure. The sounds that this car makes on throttle are priceless and worth every penny for the shear joy it brings to your ears.
Power comes on from the low end quickly and is linear through out the rev range. The turbo spool howl, combined with one of the most sexy exhaust notes ever found on a Porsche, is so intoxicating it makes you want to run this car hard through every gear - just to get that aural excitement gear after gear. At the same time your ears are having sex with the sounds, your senses are overcome with exhilaration as the speed this car produces is serious yet controlled.
As we rolled with the Lambo, keeping up with each other was no problem. Both cars made quite a scene (as you can see here) on the 101 freeway as we made our way to the Malibu Canyons.
One thing about Projekt Grip - it just looks the business. In our opinion, this is one of the best looking cars we have ever seen pull off a true race/street car look.
As we trucked along the 101, the tandem cruise was fun with the LP. A few speed blasts here and there were had for good measure and we were impressed with Projekt Grips acceleration characteristics. Next stop the Malibu Canyons.
Once we got off the 101 and headed over the hill into Malibu, it was time to really put Projekt Grip to the test. We selected some of the best canyons and serious driving terrain that would allow a proper test of acceleration and handling .
Now let's get into the reason why this car is called Projekt Grip as this may be the most important thing about this car and is what makes this one of the most unique Porsche's available today. As you may have noticed already, this car sports a stance and a set up that is extremely unique. The idea behind Projekt Grip was to create a car that could not only put down performance on the streets, but also put down extreme performance on the track and deliver characteristics normally reserved for Cup cars or full blown race machinery.
The wizards at BBi set out to make an extreme difference in one of the areas that ultimately matters most when performing well on the track and on serious roads - suspension and handling. The goal was to widen the track as far as functionally possible to ensure grip at all times and when it matters most.
The result was BBi spending time in the lab to figure out the most efficient way possible to acheive this goal. From this idea was born the BBi original carbon fiber fender flares you see on Projekt Grip. This extended the track wide enough to accommodate monster 285 size front tires and 345 rear tires that translate to extreme grip and race car like feel on every turn.
This widened track combined with Ohlins TTX coilover suspension, ERP upper control arms, RSR lower control arms and Tarret front and rear sway bars put this car on another level handling wise. Projekt Grip tore up the Malibu Canyons with ease and with a planted feel that you just don't find on most modified or upgraded vehicles.
Not only are these carbon fiber flares functional, but they are a key component to the Projekt Grip look as well. Also include the BBi carbon fiber lower valence, custom front/rear fascia and a rear wing pulled straight off a factory 997 Cup Hybrid, make Projekt Grip look like a race car first, and make you wonder if this thing is actually street legal.
While ripping Projekt Grip up the canyons, it was pure joy to hear the exhaust note bounce off the hills as you know many a resident heard the fury of Grip tearing up the asphalt in their hood.
After some amazing canyon runs, we headed out and cruised back into town as we were extremely happy that we had given Projekt Grip a thorough Targa Trophy test and can confirm the goodness this car omits to the driver behind the wheel.
As we were peeling into Malibu proper via PCH, we spotted another Porsche in our midst. To our disbelief this was another BBi customer cruising the canyons just like us. This GT3 RS was a nice clean original example with a great sounding exhaust hand built by BBi of course.
The driver flagged us down as he wanted to check out Projekt Grip since he had seen it on the web and heard about it from the boys at BBi. Needless to say he was thoroughly impressed and stoked to get an up close glimpse.
After a quick chat, we started the journey back to Santa Monica and decided to take the coastal route home.
We made a quick stop at Malibu Country Mart on the way back and decided to take a few beauty shots as it was that golden hour of perfect lighting that is so rare to take advantage of.
These two shots really make you realize what has gone into Projekt Grip. The team at BBi has raised the bar with this car on all levels. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, this car has a presence unlike any Porsche we have ever seen... and we've seen a lot! Combine unmatched looks with performance that can only be described as cutting edge, you have a car that could be one of the best driving experiences available today.
Pulling into Santa Monica in the evening, Projekt Grip transforms into a sinister futuristic machine. Looking right at home in the darkness, ready to unleash fury if need be.
It was an incredible weekend with Projekt Grip, leaving us with a lot of thoughts and emotions after driving a car of this calibre. One thing we must make clear, this car is not for everyone. It is a hard core, knife edge machine that is really at home in the hands of the extreme enthusiast and probably more at home on the track than the street. That being said, most of us are looking for that automotive experience that will stir the soul and leave you with your adrenaline pumping while grinning from ear to ear. Projekt Grip does just that, all in a package that is 100% custom and personalized.
Rumor has it, there is more development going into Projekt Grip and we have been told by Betim at BBi a second test may be in order once these upgrades have been complete. If so, you can be sure we're going to the track to experience the flip side of this tactical weapon. Also, many of the BBi developed products you see here will be available in the near future to customers looking for the Projekt Grip edge. Either way, if you are looking to take your Porsche performance to another level, it's very evident BBi Autosport is at the forefront of Porsche performance and may very well be setting new standards that others will follow for years to come.
For more info on Projekt Grip or upgrades available from BBi Autosport please visit www.bbiautosport.com
Ride Check - Projekt Grip - Photos by Mo Satarzadeh
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