I BOUGHT MY 2016 CAYMAN S brand new, literally off the showroom floor back in May of 2016. I was not the one who spec’d the car but it had most of the options I wanted, including one of my favorites, the Porsche Sport Exhaust (PSE). However, like many of you, as good as a car is when it rolls out of the factory, the desire to make it a little better and a little more your own is often too strong to ignore. Also, again probably like many of you, I tend to get a bit bored of my cars fairly quickly. No matter how good my car might be, I have that wandering eye always looking for what could be next. Sadly, having missed out on Amazon’s IPO, I don’t have the unlimited resources required to continue to fund constant new car buying. So, in the spring of 2018 I decided to modify my Cayman a bit to keep things spicy and resist the temptation to jump to something else.
I love the 981 Cayman as it is, so I didn’t want to change the essence of the car, but simply enhance the attributes I already enjoyed. So while it can be exciting, I was not interested in slapping on turbos or dropping in a larger engine at this point. I wanted maybe a bit more power and sound, but I also want it reliably. I didn’t want to be chasing engine faults and warning lights, and so on, for the sake of a bit more power. I was looking to push my Cayman S to somewhere between a GTS and a GT4, at least in terms of engine output. After asking around and reading countless forum threads on the internet, I decided that headers and a tune was the path for me.
Fortunately for me, just a 20 minute drive down the PA turnpike gets me to one of the premier Porsche performance car shops, Fabspeed. Fabspeed has been modifying Porsches and other high end sports cars for over 20 years, and seemed to offer the perfect match for what I was looking for. After speaking to their team and laying out my goals, they confirmed that I was on the right path in going for a set of headers and a tune. I decided to place an order for a set of their custom sport headers with 200-cell HJS catalytic converters, a Cobb Tuning Accessport (with a pro tune), a set of carbon fiber exhaust tips just because they look awesome, and some dyno time to see the results. Now the worst part, waiting. It took about 4 weeks to have the parts fabricated and ready for installation. When they were ready, I was called, the appointment was set up, and I took the car over, eagerly anticipating the changes.
I could have just dropped the car off but what is the fun in that? I wanted to spend the day there so I could hang out in the shop, peek in on some of the other projects and watch my car being worked on. I knew I was in my kind of place when in the lobby sat some of the owner’s cars, a slant nose 930 and a 993 Carrera converted to RSR Clubsport specs. The staff at Fabspeed was extremely accommodating. I was given a full shop tour, shown some of the other project cars currently underway, such as the Lamborghini Huracán Performante in for a custom exhaust. This was all amazing to see, although my Cayman was starting to feel very ordinary in this crowd. I settled into the comfy leather couch in the waiting area and watched some TV until my car was ready to have its turn under the wrench. Once work began on my car, I was allowed in the shop to watch as some of the installation was taking place. The parts being installed are works of art; it is a shame that they are hidden under the car -- I would hang them in my living room, to be honest.
Everything was going along great until my typical stroke of bad luck got me again. The dyno went down just before my car was to have its turn. So there would be no before/after dyno pulls for me that day. In fact, not for many days, as the dyno needed to basically be rebuilt before it would be operational again. It wasn’t the shop’s fault and as nothing ever goes as planned for me, not really that surprising. Nevertheless, just after lunchtime, everything else was done, and I was ready to roll.
Anticipation was high as I climbed into my car for the drive home. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain by the time I left. If you have read any of my previous articles you will notice that rain seems to be a common theme whenever I take the Cayman out, so that along with the broken dyno is pretty typical for me. The first real opportunity to get a feel for the changes had to wait a few days. It was worth the wait.
First, the sound. The car always sounded good, now it sounds amazing. The PSE combined with the headers opens it up just that little bit more. It doesn’t drone or sound completely obnoxious -- well, maybe a little obnoxious -- but that was the point. I am not an audiophile so the best way I can sum it up is to me it sounds more “exotic” than it did before. A little meaner, and little more serious. Number one compliment I get on the car now is how incredible it sounds. It is exactly what I was looking for. And if I am ever in the mood for a subtler drive, I can simply turn off PSE. At least in theory, as I have yet to be in the mood for a subtler drive. The new sound is too addicting. The new headers also shave six pounds of weight compared to the OEM parts. Sure six pounds doesn’t sound like much, but when you consider what Porsche charges for some of their weight saving options/models, it is not a bad deal.
Power. Initially my butt dyno was telling me that the car was a bit snappier, but eventually the real dyno was repaired, and I was able to get in a few pulls. Like most performance measurements, dyno results can have many variables that impact the numbers, so not having a before/after run of my car on the same dyno is unfortunate but it did show that I am now making about 295 HP at the wheels, which is roughly a 30 HP improvement. This should put me around 355 engine HP, which sits nicely between the GTS and GT4, as I had hoped. This certainly does not allow me to dice it up with a GT2 RS now, but the additional pull is certainly noticeable and well worth the expense.
As a package, I could not be happier with what Fabspeed put together for me. The sound and the power are just what I was hoping for. The carbon fiber exhaust tips really finish off the look out back, and after putting a couple thousand miles on the car since the upgrades, the car has been flawless, no check engine lights, stalling, no issues at all. I highly recommend Fabspeed if you are looking for some upgrades to your Porsche. I am quite satisfied with my Cayman S “Plus” and it should keep me content until I can scrape together the funds I need for that GT3, in Miami Blue, with full bucket seats…not that I have been looking.
- Joe Kucinski