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Building the Hippo


Project Goals:

  • Have Fun
  • Be Safe
  • Get a lot of Seat Time
  • Don't spend too much money. At least not all at once!

With that as a start, here is the list of the initial modifications (Phase I):


  • Roll Bar - Custom Fab Half Cage
  • Seats - Sparco Pro 2000 for me, Sparco Evo 2 for the Pax Seat
  • Harness - 6pt Schroth Profi II Camlock
  • Mirror


  • JIC Cross Competition Suspension, 8Kg/12Kg, with monoballs and camber plates
  • TRG adjustable swaybars with custom rear drop links
  • RS Strut Brace
  • ERP Kinematic and Toe and Camber Links
  • Toyo Proxie RA-1's
  • Pagid RS19 pads; StopTech SS Brake Lines; Motul RBF 600 fluid


  • Wevo SS Motor Mounts
  • RS Short Shift Lever and Fork
  • Ultralap timer


  • Airbag(s) delete
  • Rear Seat delete
  • Cup (Momo Mod 07) steering wheel
  • RS Door Panels
  • RS Carpet Kit (remove sound deadening)


  • Plain Jane
  • Paint the wheels
  • Cover with rock chips and rubber marks


December 2005: The project begins (more background here). After much searching, I found a 1996 993 with a salvage title - perfect platform for a track car. Apparently the car was wrecked at 6K miles in California. The airbags didn't deploy, so it looks like a big sideswipe or other calamity. It was rebuilt in Southern Oregon and owned by a lady who used it as an infrequent daily driver. Then a nice guy in the Medford area bought it and drove it around as a second car. He put on a cat bypass, but otherwise, the car is a no-option, vanilla 993.

I did a fairly thorough PPI - no dreaded SAI problems (cooler weather in Oregon plus no stop and go driving a real plus). With the cat bypass pipes on (boy do they sound great!), the post-cat O2 sensors were not working, these were the only codes the computer showed. The underside looked very good - no evidence of any repair work underneath. A check on the alignment rack confirmed the track, setback and wheelbase as true. With only 63K miles, I felt the mechanical platform was sound for a track car. The quality of the bodywork was less than stellar -- a couple of different shades of Grand Prix White, missing fastners, cracking in the rain gutter sealant (new roof skin) -- but with no wind noise it appears safe and ready to go. It was really hard for me to buy an imperfect car. But its the right decision for this project.

After scoring a smoking deal (less than my 87), I drove her home from Medford - on Blizzak LM-25's! Boy, these 993's sure have great torque and acceleration! Here's the first picture - love the rear end of a 993:

January 2006: Lots to do this month. After an initial cleaning (more pics here), I reattached the cat and reconnected the O2 sensors. My OBDII reader (from AutoEnginuity) confirmed that they were dead. So I put new sensors on and this cleared the DTCs (trouble codes). But 200 miles of driving, I could not get a drive cycle to clear the readiness codes. Off to the Smog Referee!

Over the holiday I worked through my punch list. Fixed the little things, like the clock (ground wire), missing hood adjuster, marker/trunk and glove box lights, radio antenna, etc., etc. The front hood shocks were shot, so I installed a Seine Systems CF hood strut. I picked up a couple of used Sparco seats. A Pro 2000 for me and a Evo 2 for the pax seat. Harald Jülicher came by and took out my airbags. Here's a fine example of Duck Tape Engineering used to cover the wheel until I order a new one:

More Progress. I installed WEVO Semi-Solid Motor mounts. Cleaned the undercarriage. Installed RS Door Panels from AppBiz and removed the sound deadening from the doors:


February 2006: Lots of little projects. I continued to muck around with the wheel repair/repainting. Ugh. Pulled the rest of the interior, made aluminum floor boards, pulled the huge windshield/headlight washer reservoir and replaced with an RS washer bottle, stripped the glue from the rear of the car, started to cut out the sunroof -- whew!


The Half Cage is installed! Too much info for the main page, read about it here.


March 2006: Lots of stuff this month. I installed the JIC Cross Competition suspension setup along with the ERP Kinematic, Toe and Camber links. More details on the suspension Installation here. I also fabricated my poor-man's headliner to cover up the cut-up roof panel, a battery hold-down for the new Odyssey battery, and put the cat bypass back in.

April 2006: With the suspension bolted in, it was time to finish up the interior. I relocated the DME so I could have clear access under the driver's seat for the sub strap bolts. Got those in, though I still have not figured out where/how to mount the inside lap belts.

I ordered an RS carpet kit from Appbiz back in January. Once, I looked at all the pieces and quickly put them back in the box. Unfortunately, now was the time to tackle this unusual three-dimensional puzzle -- without instructions. That's right, no published instructions for the 964 RS carpet kit. Looking at the 911 instructions helps, except that some major pieces are different or go in opposite, so basically, you keep laying pieces down until it starts to make sense.

Here's the start of the puzzle:

A few hours later, it looks like this:

I made a few mistakes (the next time will be so much easier), would have done a few things differently, but all in all, for a "street-legal track-car", I think it gets the job done.

Most of the rear carpet is not glued. If any of you remember my glue removing project, I don't want to do that again when I ultimately strip the car. I went ahead and put vinyl on the B pillars to make them look more finished. I also cut and installed the rear window trim pieces to finish off the side panels.

Those with good memories will recall that this car had a gray interior. I painted the center console and eBrake lever. I also installed the Momo Mod .07 wheel (essentially a Cup Car wheel) and for now, am debating the Momo shift knob/boot. After this was done, I installed the UltraLap timer.


May/June 2006: All the odds and ends came together this month and in early June. I had the car towed to Wevo where Tyson Schmidt set up the suspension. With 3/4 of a tank of gas, the car weighed in at 2,817 pounds - or just under 2,800 pounds with the normal 1/2 tank. The weight loss program shed over 300 pounds, I still have a few extra ones to get rid of. Here's a pic of Tyson after a day and one half of hard work:

I drove the beast home (wow!), installed Pagid Yellow (RS-19) brake pads and flushed the brake system. She's Done!! Here are a few driveway shots:

Off to Sears Point to give her a shake down!


Future Plans

After I get the Phase I project complete, and quite a few days of track time under my belt, here are some preliminary thoughts for the next phases:

Phase II

  • Club Sport Fixed Tail and Splitters
  • 18" forged track wheels
  • RS Flywheel
  • Brake Ventilation
  • Battery cutoff switch
  • Tire trailer

Phase III

  • Full cage (half cage in Phase I)
  • Fire System
  • No longer street legal - all the nice stuff goes bye bye


Project Credits: With the exception of the cage and the suspension setup, I did all the work myself. It's very satisfying. And it enabled me to establish a fairly reasonable modification budget, and I'm pleased to report that my budget variance is less than 10%.

There are many folks I need to thank. First and foremost, my wife and family -- they provided unwavering support and encouragement. The Pelican and Rennlist community -- I can't imagine undertaking this type of project on my own without the resources and talents of those that contribute. Jack Olsen gets a shout out -- I still remember reading the original BBI story and thought to myself, "wouldn't that be fun one day?" That day is here. Todd (Nostatic) -- for helping me understand that a shiny car is not a fun car, and many other things. Bill Verburg -- always ready with advice about brakes, tires and all things 993 RS. Hayden Burvil of Wevo for his advice, support and guidance on Safety and doing it right. Bob Brooks of VB Motorsports for all the important parts and a reliable source of advice and coaching helping a novice bolt in JIC Cross suspension and TRG sways from 2,500 miles away.

Suppliers: VB Motorsports; Wevo; Pelican Products; Paragon Products;911 Chips; I/O Port Racing; Plavan Racing; Trackday Motorsports; Sunset Imports

And finally, Tyson Schmidt. It was Tyson that first suggested a 964 based track car- which morphed into this 993. He instructed me on two of my first four track days. He has been constantly behind the project, with email, PMs and phone calls to help me make all the initial build decisions and is the only other person that turned a wrench on my car.


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