Last Of The Air-Cooled: Mike Truong’s Porsche 911 Carrera 4S

Ever since its introduction back in 1963, the iconic Porsche 911 has been the dream of so many young car fanatics throughout the world. What started as an evolution of the classic Porsche 356, quickly turned into an obsession for legions of enthusiasts the world over. Everyone has their favorite model, but I would say many can agree that one of the most iconic modern-day 911s is the 993 Porsche, the generation also known as the “Last of the Air-Cooled.”

Enter Mike Truong of San Gabriel Valley, California, and his 1997 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S.

“I purchased this car back in May of 2018 from a fellow enthusiast in Boca Raton, FL, having always wanted a naturally aspirated 993 widebody since graduating high school in 1997,” Truong says.

“Last of the air-cooled 911s with classic yet modern looks, along with those wide hips had me sold from the get-go.”

I met Mike back in the summer of 2018, and since then, his car has gone through dramatic changes. One afternoon, I invited him to a gathering in El Monte, CA, where a buddy of mine revealed his RAUH-Welt Begriff (RWB). Truong rolled into the parking lot lowered on a set of Rotiform FUC wheels, and the sound of a notable whine filled the air. This whine came from a TPC intercooled supercharger kit bolted to his stock 3.6-liter flat-six engine.

“The supercharger was fun, but I bought the car with plans to do a full N/A RSR motor build optimized for mostly street/canyon driving and track days. My vision was to create a widebody 993 RS, a car Porsche never made. The factory 993 RS and RS Clubsport were based on narrow bodies, so I felt that this might set it apart a bit plus I prefer the aesthetics of the widebody 993s,” Truong says.

After much deliberation and tons of research, he decided that he would go with a Rothsport 3.8 RSR setup. For those that don’t know, Rothsport Racing is a notable figure in the Porsche racing community, and owner Jeff Gamroth has had his part in many builds over the decades. As of recent, he has had his 4.0-liter engines inside the new Gunther Werks 993 builds by Peter Nam in Huntington Beach, California.

Truong says, “Once this project began, I basically took the red pill, and down the rabbit hole, I went. One of the hardest parts of the build was the dreaded waiting game as the motor build took longer than expected. On the flip side, a high point was definitely firing up the new motor for the first time and hearing the new intoxicating engine note. My 993 feels like a completely different car now, and it was totally worth the wait!”

He is emphatic that the build itself could not have been possible without the help of his friend Jack Diramarian, the owner of Scientific Motor Werks (SMG) in Pasadena, CA. Jack is heavily involved in the Porsche scene not only through his shop but also through the relationships he fostered through his previous involvement as President of the Porsche Club of America SGVR and founder of Zuffenhausen Events.

“My project 993 build would not have been possible without his expertise and support. He’s owned and operated his independent Porsche service shop for the past 30+ years. Jack meticulously planned and executed my 3.8 RSR build from start to finish. His expert craftsmanship and absolute attention to detail has resulted in an engine that pulls like a water-cooled GT3—and sounds the part, too—while being beautiful to look at! Jeff at Rothsport Racing put the finishing touches on the motor, installing his big-bore EFI intake system and dyno tuning, then shipping it back where SMG did the final assembly and installation,” Truong says.

Of course, a high-performance car’s exterior needs to be equally as aesthetically beautiful as it is on the inside. So he started by lowering his 993 on a set of H&R Deep coilovers and then set the suspension up properly by upgrading to RS uprights, RS sway bars, RS motor mounts, and a Rothsport engine brace and bushings. Then he went with a set of BBS Motorsport E88 wheels with faces finished in traditional BBS Gold to set the stage, and with all things proper, finding the right offset is of the utmost importance. To fill the larger fender cavities of the 993, he opted to go with a 19-inch setup that resulted in a 9-inch and 11.5-inch front and rear width, respectively. The front wheels have an offset of ET38 with a 2-inch double lip wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S 235/35/19 tires, while the rears measure in with ET36 offset, a 3.5-inch double step lip, and tire sizing of 295/30/19. Wide butt 911s require wide tires, and wide tires are just so dreamy!

One of the most notable additions to his 993’s interior are the custom Recaro Pole Position seats with silver and black 911R Pepita inserts. I didn’t realize how special of a material Pepita was until I actually touched the fabric and was taken aback by its texture. There is a bit of rubberized plastic feel to it, not in a cheap way but in a very high-end, practical way. It kind of grips whatever it touches, so that instantly made me fall in love with Pepita. The interior also sports many of Rennline’s off-the-shelf products that add an element of race inspiration. From floorboards and airbag delete plates to their famous foot pedals, Truong has a beautiful theme going inside. Splashes of red add just the right amount of accent needed to make things pop off, such as the red seat belts, which match the large red center tach, that also matches the big red brakes.

Back when I used to own a 993 Carrera 2S, my favorite aspects about it came from Darin Fister at FD Motorsports. The Fister Stage III exhaust and FDM Short Shifter/GoldenRod combo removed the shortcomings of the 993, and brought its performance up to spec. You can imagine how excited I was when I saw that he had the same items installed on his 993; truth be told, I don’t want to drive a 993 unless the SSK is in there. The throw of the stock shifter is a big no-no for me, and I am so glad that there is a fix of such a high caliber. The short and crisp throw is precisely what every manual shifting car needs. I was never big on loud exhausts, but the way the Fister III has captivated my heart and ears is one for the books. When you have a beefy widebody 993, and it whispers like a hybrid, it is one to make you scratch your head, but when it’s loud, bold, and assertive, you know you have done something of competence. Friends don’t let friends drive quiet performance cars.

I was also fortunate enough to drive Truong’s car at Streets of Willow during a PCA track event back in December. After a few laps, it dawned on me that this car reminded me of a car that I had previously driven. It wasn’t until later on that I realized it reminded me of the 4.0-liter Gunther Werks Prototype that I drove around for an entire day a few years ago. The sounds of the Rothsport engine are unique and definitely what an air-cooled GT car would sound like if Porsche had built one. It’s also refreshing that he didn’t waste any time taking his car to the track. There are still many kinks to work out, but a good shakedown was just what he needed.

As you well know, a project car is never really finished. So his plans for the future include a sunroof delete, custom channeled roof, rear seat delete, a rollbar, and adding more lightweight components for maximum weight reduction. He’s also looking to convert to the LED upgrades 9ELEVEN headlights. The list goes on, but we know he’s over the tipping point and finished the hardest parts of the car… for now.

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