HEART SURGERY

A BOXSTER A WINTER PROJECT

By Grant Lenahan

Of course it’s heart surgery. That’s why we had a cardiologist on the team. Also, being a curious sort, he wanted to understand better what made these Boxster beasts tick. And so, under the watchful expert guidance of Gene Kirschner and Ken Smith of Autohaus (Peapack, NJ), we undertook pulling the motor and transmission from my 2000 986S track car. Some of you may know this car. My car attends a lot of track events (generally with me), but it was also the subject of a two-part series “the making of a track car” in which I documented buying an “almost scrapped, not running” Boxster with 193,000 miles and a toasted motor, then made it run (junkyard motor, lots of work and Gene again) and then transformed it bit by bit with suspension, chassis changes, interior, safety, setup, etc. When done, and after a lot of setup to get it “just right” I had a wonderfully balanced and capable, but painfully slow car with something clearly not right in that junkyard heart. Three years later it’s time to fix this. The long version, outlining all the details will come in one or two more articles as the work progresses. For now, suffice it to say that I plan to rebuild my motor and the transmission, and, along the way, make both more durable and improve performance. I’m really looking forward to the process, learning a ton, and being able to work under the watchful eyes of Gene and Ken (and likely turning the most delicate parts over to them).
This first step was not the delicate part. For half of Wednesday and all of Thursday after Christmas, Murray Kane, Art Meltzer and I worked like dogs (aside: does your dog lay around in the sun? Sneak on the bed? Mine does!) to remove the engine and transmission from a chassis that now has 232,000 miles, out of which an estimated 10,000 are track miles (I did farmer’s math on days, events, years, and average speed – it’s a LOT). Let me cut to the chase: most of this job involves disconnecting hard-to-find, rusty bolts, that KarlHeinz in Deutschland never intended you to remove. It also involves splashing oil, coolant and other fluids on one’s self, and asking, time and time again, “do we have **everything** disconnected?”  In the end, the answer was “not quite”, stop that lift NOW! In the end, after 1 ½ days of work, and quite a few interventions (the good kind)by Gene and Ken, we had the pair out, and within a short period separated and on stands. It felt great. Nothing was broken in the process, and after some re-assembly, the Boxster even rolled out of the shop on its own (with us pushing of course). I made bad