ARTICLE BY: Dino Dalle Carbonare for Speedhunters.com
PUBLISHED DATE: 23rd July 2014
This may well be the most memorable car I’ve shot this year. I know that’s a pretty bold statement considering what I’ve been fortunate enough to point my camera at during the course of 2014 – not to mention the other crazy cars that Gatebil Rudskogen had in store for us earlier in the month – but what I’m about to show you is simply wild.
I think it’s the element of surprise, or should I say confusion, that keeps it so vivid in my mind. I’m sure a lot of people in the car scene in Scandinavia must have heard all about this car, but living in that faraway corner of the planet called Japan, it somehow escaped my radar. So you can imagine my reaction when I first saw it flash by me trackside during one of the time attack sessions.
Even after a couple of laps I had no clue what I was seeing. It was obviously a hybrid of some kind – and as I would soon figure out – a custom project inspired by Porsche’s latest and most sought after hypercar: the 918 Spyder.
Just by observing it on track it quickly became obvious that it was something serious and well developed. It seemed light on its feet, it was able to change direction instantly, and it had copious amounts of grip and downforce which kept it within the top three spots in the timed sessions.
It wasn’t until I visited the pit that Sweden’s Elite Projects were occupying for the event and talked to the man behind the project, Robin Jonasson, that it all began to make sense. Well sort of, because this was unlike any Porsche-based project that I’d ever come across before.
We made plans then and there to take it out to the long downhill back-straight at Rudskogen that night after the driving sessions ended at 8:00pm for a proper look. Again, I’d have the benefit of that glorious Scandinavian golden light to snap away at this car in detail, as well as backdrops that are about as different as you can possibly get to what I usually shoot against in Japan.
Robin and his father who run Elite Projects have become quite the Porsche specialists in this region, covering everything from basic road car performance modifications all the way up to, well… this sort of one-off creation. In fact, this was one of two cars that they had brought out to Norway for the event, but you’ll have to wait for Peter to tell you all about the other in a future feature story…
As Robin talked away and explained the whole idea and process behind the construction of this Cayman – yes, the base is indeed Porsche’s entry-level two-seater – I couldn’t believe that they had also made the carbon fiber body. Using a vacuum-injected construction process they had set the beautifully laid out fibers, creating large one-piece front and rear composite cowls.
We often concentrate on home-built cars at Gatebil, so I thought it was quite cool for a change to also have a look at what the pros are able to put together in this part of the world. And let me tell you, there are hardly any bolt-on parts to be found here – this is as close as you are going to get to an all-out, high-end race car build.
While sculpting the lines of the 918 replica body, aerodynamics played a great part in both the final look of the car, the way the venting has been used to help cool the engine and its ancillaries, the brakes, and then of course the need to generate that all-important downforce at both ends of the car. That’s why the entire front section runs a large under-tray, which then spans out to the sides to help smooth airflow underneath the car. Functionality aside, that helps the car’s looks too, making it appear lower as it sits nice and tight against the center-lock BBS Cup wheels. These lightweight rims measure 18×10-inch at the front and a much wider 18×13-inch at the rear, and run sticky Dunlop slicks. And as you have probably already noticed, braking is courtesy of Porsche Turbo front and rear calipers and drilled rotors.
Power comes from a 480hp 996 Turbo engine which has been left in pretty much stock form. That number might not be as insane as you probably expected, but I must remind you that there’s only 1,100kg to shift here! Oh yeah, and this engine doesn’t joke around when it comes to torque, pushing out 656Nm of twisting force for amazing in-gear and out-of-corner acceleration.
Compared to a lot of the cars I feature in Japan, it’s such a pleasure to see well-constructed roll cages in the majority of machines that compete at Gatebil. This 918 replica is no different, the thick-gauge steel cage keeping Robin well protected if the worst were to happen, and of course adding a ton of torsional rigidity to the original chassis.
Dino Dalle Carbonare