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KM Exclusive: Inside TPC Racing's First Porsche Boxster Spyder Turbo Build

photos by Casey Parkin and Porsche

Over the coming weeks, Kilometer Magazine will be following along with a project already underway inside a non-descript shop in Maryland. It’s one that can’t be done soon enough, as the results should be totally spectacular. Someone has taken delivery the amazing new Porsche Boxster Spyder and promises to make it a world-class supercar on a budget.

You’ve perhaps already read about the work TPC Racing does with other current Porsche models, including turbo kits for the 997 and the Cayman. Owner/operator Mike Levitas got his start in the late 1980s working on and racing cars in the IMSA Supercar Series, where legendary turbo cars like the Nissan 300ZX, Mazda RX7, and Lotus Esprit gave him plenty of experience with the witchcraft of forced induction. By 2000, Levitas and TPC moved to Porsches and the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series, where the company claimed a 1-2-3-4 sweep of the driver’s championship. The company’s #36 car never left the podium in the 2000 season. In 2006, TPC won its class at the 24 Hours of Daytona.

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For a guy with this kind of history, you might not expect Mike Levitas to get excited about much anymore. You’d be wrong, and as a result we can’t even quote his first sentence about the stock Boxster Spyder. It isn’t fit for some audiences. But he did go on to tell us that he thinks Porsche is “definitely understating the development time of the car,” notably its more substantial tub and higher rigidity. “It makes a 997 seem weak. This is a real car, no flex. I don’t know how they did it.” These are incredibly strong words coming from a guy like Mike, but ones we definitely support based on our limited time in the car. He also noted the drastic reduction in top-down wind noise versus a normal Boxster, and went on to call the car a “huge bargain.”

A few minutes into our conversation with Mike, we’re starting to wonder whether he thinks the near-perfect Spyder is even worth tuning. “This hasn’t changed our plans, but reinforced them. For $64,000 you can buy this car. We’ll add $5000-6000 in suspension, plus $10,000 into the engine. I believe when we’re done we’ll have an $80,000 supercar.”

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And that’s what we have to look forward to with this build as we watch it go along. The core of the package is TPC’s already-developed turbo kit, which it sells in various forms for the rest of the Porsche two-door family. “We’ve already done a mild tune, which with Caymans generally takes us from 303 horsepower up to around 321. Once the turbo goes on, we should be making 470 horsepower at the wheels.” This is in a car that weighs under 3000 pounds.

It might seem then, that TPC is taking a balanced car and turning it into something more of a one-trick pony. Mike Levitas assures us it won’t end up that way, that it isn’t how he goes about building cars. “You have to love what you build. That’s how we gauge success.” And that’s why he won’t sell the turbocharger kit by itself. Everything is sold as a package with suspension upgrades, because everything at TPC is about creating a balanced package. To that end, he’s working on springs and sway bars that are dialed in for the Spyder, which Mike does admit will take less work than some other cars. He’s even developing a controller that takes the stock car’s two-mode shock adjustment (normal and sport) and instead makes them infinitely adjustable. This is all part of the hunt to balance ride comfort and track performance. “No downsides,” Mike says, “It’ll deliver everything that you’d get from a car right of the dealer lot.”

TPC builds around 120 Cayman Turbos a year, and the team hopes to build on that success and those numbers with the debut of the Boxster Spyder, the purest interpretation yet of the Boxster/Cayman line. Software tuning, as we’ve said, is already done. Mike hopes to develop preproduction test kits for his entire tuning program. He’ll examine those and build ten more, then head into true production kits with a run of 50 soon. But for now, car number one, the company’s own white-over-black beast, sits in the TPC shop under the knife, paving the way for the customer cars to follow. We’ll keep you updated on the progress, but really, we just can’t wait to spend some quality time with this thing once it is done. Stay tuned.

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