WHEN I TOLD PEOPLE I was going to see and talk with the owner of a Cayman with a Corvette LS3 motor swap, the first question was “Why?!” When I met Kerry Liu, the inspiration and owner of this car, that was the first question. “Why not?” was the quick response but there is more to this project than that as valid as that rejoinder may be. Liu wanted to build something very unique for both the track, reliability, and travelling to and from the track. He loves everything about the mid-engine Cayman. The car is very forgiving, but it needed more power. Lots of LS engines have been swapped into 944s but not many people have done the Cayman.
This was not a simple project as the side bar attests. The hardest part was the work done on rebuilding the firewall and all the sub-frame mounts to avoid messing up the drive-line angles. The car dyno-ed at Mantis Autosport with 446 horsepower at the wheels and approximately 420 pound feet of torque.
Kerry Liu is definitely a Porsche fan with a couple of very pure and special cars. As a tech entrepreneur he would argue that he had the right mix of luck and hard work. Liu started a company about nine years ago and was fortunate enough to work with really smart engineers to build an exciting product in the artificial intelligence space that got acquired recently. Moving from a 15-year-old Jetta, a soul-crushing ride, a 944 S from Saskatchewan was enough to get Liu hooked on Porsche and he joined UCR. He learned basic wrenching as it was a simple car to learn on. He sold it after only a few months for a small profit.
He is a petrolhead, Porsche fan, and actively involved in the GTA auto scene as a member of RCLUB. His other two Porsches are a 1972 911 T, fully restored but upgraded to a period-correct 2.4-litre motor built out to RS spec and S suspension, technically not an original 2.7 RS motor, as well as a 997.1, completely stock GT3 RS in pumpkin orange.
Despite loving these two Porsches, a part of him wanted to work with Pat Cyr of Cyrious Garageworks to undertake this project to build a unique vehicle that was 75-percent track and 25-percent street. The themes of this Cayman build were to retain the factory balance, to be clean and reliable, and to have usable power and balance for the track. They wanted it to be subtle but violent at the same time while keeping it looking as stock as possible. Liu met Cyr through some friends at RCLUB in Toronto. They instantly hit it off and Liu knew Cyr was someone he could trust to build this car. It started with a clean 2008 Cayman S with two owners and no accidents, as the donor vehicle. Combine this with the fact that he lives within walking distance from Liu in Oakville, this was one fun COVID project to keep them excited through the past winter.
This was not a simple project as the side bar attests. The hardest part was the work done on rebuilding the firewall and all the sub-frame mounts to avoid messing up the drive-line angles. The car dyno-ed at Mantis Autosport with 446 horsepower at the wheels and approximately 420 pound feet of torque. Of course, with any automobile the real proof is in the driving. I was fortunate that Liu has a place near me, and we met nearby. After examining the Cayman and being especially impressed with the sanitary install of the big V8, he passed me the keys. He sensibly stayed in the car with me. I have to say driving this Porsche was the biggest thrill of the summer. The power and handling are beyond reproach although it is a vehicle that would be best enjoyed on the track.
I would like to thank Kerry Liu for the opportunity to meet him and explore this Cayman. Modified Porsches have always been a part of the Porsche world, and this has to be amongst the best for factory-quality design and installation as well as performance. I just hope that the next time I visit with him, I can drive one of his other Porsches. </>
THE BUILD PROCESS
We completely modified the entire engine bay of the Cayman. There is a kit on the market you can buy to do this swap, but it pushes the factory transmission 4.5 inches back from the factory position, causing people to have CV-shaft failure issues, so we decided to build our own kit to prevent having CV-shaft failure. On the original car, the engine bay is sealed and you can’t see the engine. We opened it all up as we didn’t want to hide the LS3 and also wanted to save any weight we could, so we cut away all the sheet metal we could to expose the engine. We also cut out all the original firewall so that we could move the engine as far forward as possible to keep the CV-shaft angles as close as possible to factory and designed our own subframe using DOM roll-cage tubing.
That subframe ties the floor and firewall of the car to the original Porsche suspension-transmission subframe. It’s triangulated, tied into all the suspension mounting points and is very rigid. In doing that, we were able to position the engine and transmission one inch back from factory, which should keep the CV shafts happy. So far it’s worked very well.
From there we built a four-point roll cage, tied the rear strut towers together to add back any rigidity we lost cutting out the factory metal, then built a firewall to close off the engine bay from the interior with a Lexan window. To make serviceability better, we built a bolt-in panel behind the seat that gives full access to the front of the engine. We also included the factory seatbelts and racing harnesses.
Probably the biggest challenge of the build was making the firewall. Everything is very tight to the engine, we also wanted to give maximum room for the seats and wanted it to be aesthetically pleasing as well. We then painted the engine bay satin black and the roll bar factory Porsche red to match the brakes and the belts.
—Pat Cyr, Cyrius Garageworks
Photography by David Walker and Kerry Liu