Flame-Shooting Porsche Cayman Packs a 1,210-HP LS V8 Surprise in the Middle
Why keep things simple when you can add a Lamborghini manual transmission?
It's pretty rare to see a Porsche Cayman with wild fender flares and an even crazier paint job, but this green thing you see right here isn't a normal Cayman because sitting behind the driver is a 1,210-horsepower twin-turbo LSA V8 swap that takes up nearly the whole back hatch. So like I said—not exactly normal.
Eight-time national karting champ Jordon Musser is no stranger to ridiculously fast Porsches. His first Porsche was a 911 Turbo he tuned up to roughly 1,100 horsepower, but the thought of blowing up a $50,000 Porsche crate engine was simply too much.
After a brief stint in a mostly stock C7-generation Chevrolet Corvette, Musser realized that he wanted another project car, albeit with lower build costs than his last one. A Chevy LS-powered project offered him the kind of engineering and fabrication challenge he wanted with a powertrain that would be far less expensive to modify and fix.
After considering everything from a Superlite Coupe kit car to a modernized widebody C2-generation Corvette, he briefly thought of building an LS-powered Porsche 911, but decided that was too much like his last project—not to mention far too common. That's when a Cayman entered the picture.
After learning of a Ford Coyote V8-powered Cayman, he knew it would fit, but those who went the LS route cited multiple problems.
"From having to move the driver forward to axle problems, electric water pump problems and gearbox gearing being entirely incorrect for a V8. Not to mention the rear of the car is a strut and not multi-link, which makes it…well crap," Musser wrote.
Challenge accepted. Thanks for outlining the problems with this project, everyone!
Because this is Texas and this is occasionally what happens, Musser bought his 2007 Cayman S from an astronaut in the spring of 2018. The previous owner rebuilt broken Porsche engines for fun, so there was a fresh engine in the car which Musser sold to fund this crazy build.
"I took my girlfriend out to dinner that night in it, and then the next day removed the engine," wrote Musser.
Taylor Sims at Dallas Performance tipped Musser off that new six-speed Lamborghini Gallardo manual gearboxes are relatively cheap for what they are, and they could handle the power Musser wanted from this build using a billet center plate. The Cayman's primary use was going to be on the road, so the gear ratio was modified for better cruising in sixth.
In went a forged LSA V8 with ported heads and a custom cam from tuner Sam Miller with an LS3 dry sump crank to fit in the middle of the Cayman. A blown-up LS engine from a friend was used to mock up how to cut the least amount of material from the Cayman and then the hard work began.
Musser then had to build a completely custom accessory drive to accommodate not only a remote mechanical water pump that would keep the big LS cool for track use, but a custom 250-amp alternator for creature comforts like air conditioning and a stereo. As many things as possible were kept down low to keep the car's center of gravity low.
"I had to go to a remote mounted water pump which was pretty damn big, but was told it will cool a truck in the Baja 1000 at 800 horsepower at [wide-open throttle] for hours," Musser wrote. "Sold."
He also really didn't want to move the firewall very far forward, as he's 6'2" and needed all the room he could get. So, the entire rear interior compartment was made into one large engine bay, which had the bonus of more efficient cooling. The front firewall still had to move up a little bit, which was alleviated somewhat with a very, very thin Tillet carbon fiber seat up front.
Keeping the eight-cylinder motor further back helped avoid the awkward driveshaft angles that caused CV joints to fail in other LS-swapped Caymans. The Lambo transaxle could fit into place with the huge custom axles only barely angled forwards, where they're less likely to fail.
Hardly any of the stock engine and transmission mounts worked with this setup, necessitating a ton of custom work to situate the load of the engine and transmission in a way that wouldn't fail on the road, on the drag strip or on a road course. (So much potential for activities!)
Adding twin turbos as low as possible in the enlarged engine bay also helped keep the center of gravity low. In the end, that LSA was tuned up to 1,210 hp and 959 pound-feet of torque using an aftermarket Motec ECU, which Colin Murphy helped develop custom firmware for.
What's even cooler is that the engine, turbos, and transmission were designed to drop out of the car as one unit. "This was very important to me as I know that stuff will break," Musser explained.
A 911 GT3 RS-style widebody helped tuck the new wider wheels underneath the car, and a StopTech big brake kit and Ohlins R&T coilovers were added inside.
While Musser did most of the assembly and fabrication work himself, the bodywork was adapted from a Precision Porsche kit over the course of six months with some help from Larry Spencer and Casey Barclay. The bodywork included several cues (and parts!) from the 991-era Porsche 911 GT3, but also added enough space for a gigantic custom radiator in the front. A build like this is all about cooling, and Musser's front radiator was twice the size of one from a a 991 911 GT3. On top of that bodywork went a neon metallic Lambo green called Verde Ithaca that smears radioactive shame on the Cayman R's special green for not being loud enough.
Musser has more work planned for the V8 Cayman, including the addition of a flat-bottomed tray for better aerodynamics. Yet as it sits, this might already be the most incredible build of the year, and we're not even halfway through.
Clarification: Monday, April 27, 2:27 p.m. ET: Added a couple names who helped Musser on key decisions and programming on this build.
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