Porsche Engine Rebuild Case Study: Engine Rebuilding for the Race Track

Steve Deeks is a racing instructor, presenter, pilot, and part-time racing driver. It has been his dream to race his own car – a classic Porsche 911 – and the team here at Tech9 was able to help him make that dream a reality.

In this article, we’re going to talk a little about what this project involved and how we, Steve, and the crew at Classic Performance Engineering, went about completing it:

What is Steve trying to do, and why?

Steve wants to be able to race his classic Porsche 911 and to achieve success on the track. As an experienced race driver and instructor, he knows what he’s doing behind the wheel, but he needs a powerful and reliable engine that can match his skill.

That’s where Tech9 comes in.

What issues has Steve had in the past?

This wasn’t the first time Steve had his engine rebuilt—unfortunately, the first two preparers that he went with didn’t have the skill and experience that we have at Tech9. One of the engines underperformed to a woeful degree, while the other one failed altogether. That’s a shocking state of affairs by anyone’s standards and a huge waste of money for Steve. He was understandably a bit cagey about coming to us for his third engine rebuild in as many years, but we soon reassured him. In the end, we proved that third time’s the charm.

What does this project mean to Steve?

As a racing driver and instructor, Steve knows the thrill of powering round a track at speed. He has been itching to get his Porsche 911 on the track for over five years, but there have been many obstacles along the way. Now he finally has the chance to race his own car, and that means everything to him.

What does Classic Performance Engineering do?

As the name suggests, Classic Performance Engineering deals with classic and vintage cars, restoring them to their former glory and getting them race-ready. They provide a variety of services for classic car racers, including race preparation and on-track support, as well as general servicing and maintenance. Based in Bicester, they are local to Steve and help him with his race prep for every event.

Did we work with Classic Performance Engineering? What was it like? Did we face any challenges with them?

Yes, we worked with Classic Performance Engineering as their knowledge of Steve and his car was invaluable to us when it came to understanding the specs he wanted from his engine rebuild. The company was founded by Martin Greaves, an engineer, race prep expert, and a passionate motorsport enthusiast. He and his crew were a delight to work with, as they shared our passion for classic Porsche sports cars and how to get the most out of them.

As for the challenges… where do we start? We were commissioned to rebuild the Porsche’s engine, which would normally be a pretty standard job. The challenges arose with the state of the engine when we came to look at it. The previous rebuilds it had undergone had left the engine in a pretty shoddy state. We worked closely with both Classic Performance Engineering and Steve himself to find practical and effective solutions that would make the car reliable and competitive.

What did we do?

The bulk of the project was the engine rebuild, which involved stripping the whole of Porsche’s original engine down to its constituent parts and then building it back up from scratch. As any mechanic or engineer will tell you, that’s the only way to be sure the “new” engine meets the owner’s specifications. That’s particularly true with models like this one, where they’ve already suffered a pair of substandard rebuilds in the recent past. We needed to be able to see what damage had been done to the engine and what parts needed repairing or replacing to achieve optimal performance.

Our experience with these air-cooled engines spans 25+ Years. We look at each individual part of the engine, and ensure it’s optimal for use in the harsh environment that a Race or Rally engine demands. We have designed our own bespoke pistons and con-rods to give unrivalled power and durability. These are then paired with custom camshaft profiles to give the desired power delivery and characteristics that are required for the designated use.

This particular engine, also retained the original Bosch CIS Fuel injection system. It’s required for the regulations, and normally deemed to be sub-optimal for a race engine, but some hard work and attention to detail with the fuel delivery settings, as provided a very linear power delivery for Steve, throughout the rpm range. Our target horsepower figure is closely guarded, but suffice to say, in the engine department, Steve’s car will not be lacking! His feedback and on-track experience, to date, has more than met our expectations.

In addition, we had to revise the car’s electrics to ensure they were all in good working order. We also had to replace and revise the gearbox so that the transmission system could keep up with the improved engine. This was an important part of the job, as Steve would have to change gears while travelling at high speed, so a smooth, responsive, and fluid gearbox was essential.

Finally, we fitted a new suspension system to the car – again, to compensate for the more powerful engine, particularly in a racing environment. For this, we used a suspension kit from TracTive. This company is an industry leader in suspension solutions for racing cars and bikes, with an innovative approach to suspension engineering.

What challenges did we face in general?

All engine rebuilds face their fair share of challenges, and this one was no exception. The main issue, as we’ve already discussed, was the state of the engine following its two failed rebuild attempts. Fortunately, here at Tech9, we have the tools, skills, and experience to work around the problem.

Other challenges we faced included getting the right parts for the job. Fitting a rebuilt engine into a classic car improves performance, but requires other additions and adjustments to ensure the car remains safe to drive (or, more specifically, to race). This is why we were obliged to change the suspension, gearbox, and electrics in the car, to make sure it could keep up with the new engine.

Steve’s first run around the course at Brands Hatch proved that it could!

How long did the project take?

As mentioned above, Steve has been running this little project for the last five years, while we have been a part of the process for the last two. Not all of that was spent building, of course. Sourcing and testing parts, scheduling rebuild and repair time with Steve, and other considerations took up much of the time, but — yeah — the car was in our car for about two years all told.

What was the result?

Steve now has the racing car that he’s always dreamed of having – one that performs as well as it looks and one that he will be able to continue racing for many years to come. With the patience and determination he’s shown to date and the support of everyone, here at Tech9 and Classic Performance Engineering (and with a little luck thrown in for good measure), he should have years of success ahead of him on the race track.:

Check out some of the snapshots of Steve driving his brand new Porsche 911 engine on the race track:

Porsche 911 car on a racing track.

Want to really get an insight into the fantastic work we completed for Steve and his new engine? Check out Steve’s YouTube video: