CSF’s 997 GT3 Full Cooling Package Offers Irreplaceable Peace of Mind

Photography: Mike Maravilla

  • CSF is affectionately and deservedly known as the “cooling experts”, boasting over 50 years of manufacturing experience and over 40 million cooling systems sold globally.
  • CSF’s Racing & High-Performance Division strives to build and engineer the most advanced, efficient, and reliable cooling systems in the world for demanding enthusiasts and racing platforms.
  • Many high-performance, water-cooled Porsches use three radiators — two side and one center — to maximize cooling opportunities to either mid or rear-engined layouts.
  • The three-radiator cooling package for the coveted Mezger-powered 997 GT3 is a full plug-and-play solution that is robust enough for the highest motorsport demands and street enthusiasts alike.
  • Each of the three 997 GT3 radiators features all-aluminum construction and two-row 42mm cores featuring CSF’s exclusive “B-Tube” technology for more than a 20% improvement in cooling efficiency.

Porsche ownership is different from most other marques: its experience is often measured in moments instead of months or years. This small, but important distinction may seem like a burden to some, but in practice, the shift serves as a reminder that every moment deserves to be savored.

For me, that mental shift was an abrupt development that came after the loss of my first 997 GT3. Like so many cars before it, I approached each experience like a stepping stone. There was no end and therefore no respite to appreciate the achievement — it was all about the next mod or the next car. I was fortunate enough to buy that GT3’s replacement and vowed that I’d never make that mistake again.

My reframed approach toward the “Porsche Moment” had two tangential benefits: patience and resolve. Together, that concoction reinforced an unwavering approach toward creating my ultimate GT3. This slow burn allowed me to be deliberate in my selections — like the Recaro Classic Pole Positions, 18″ Advan GT Premium wheels, Öhlins TTX coilovers, and Akrapovič Evolution titanium exhaust — but also the privilege to enjoy every improvement along the way. Today, that calculated approach brought me to CSF and our usual Montgomeryville, PA stomping grounds, R/T Tuning.

THE CHOICE FOR ENTHUSIASTS

Since its inception, CSF has been dedicated to providing ultimate performance cooling solutions for the world’s most demanding motorsport enthusiast owners and platforms. With a steadfast commitment so closely aligned to Porsche’s own mission, CSF has earned an almost instinctual recognition amongst water-cooled 911, Boxster, or Cayman owners as the only aftermarket choice, myself included.

THE COMPLETE SET

Unlike its standard Carrera siblings (with manual transmissions), the 997 GT3 utilizes three radiators — two side and one center — to maximize cooling opportunities to its rear-engined layout. The left (7047) and right (7048) radiators are effectively mirrored units that are shared across the 997/987 naturally-aspirated lineup, while the center radiator (7053) is only cross-compatible with the GT2 and GT2RS.

Each of the three 997 GT3 radiators features all-aluminum construction, 100% TIG-welded end tanks, and two-row 42mm cores that boast CSF’s exclusive “B-Tube” technology for more than a 20% improvement in cooling efficiency. Despite each unit’s additional depth, the 997 GT3 radiators are plug-and-play and the OEM AC condensers (aft of each side heat exchanger) and fan assembly (affixed to the passenger side radiator) are unaffected as well. Pat from R/T Tuning might have articulated the sentiment best when he said, “I love it when sh*t just works.”

Beyond the plug-and-play construction, the CSF cooling package is individually leak and pressure-tested, features CNC-machined fittings for exacting fitment and durability, and OEM-style machined inlet and outlet provisions so every factory hose connects without any problems.

THE INSTALLATION: DRIVER’S SIDE

For any Porsche install, the biggest challenge is access. But I’m happy to report that all three heat exchangers have a pretty clear line of sight once the bumper is off and each fender liner is removed. We recommend starting with the driver’s side because there’s more room inside the wheel well (more on this later).

Despite each side radiator being shielded by a pass-through AC condenser, there is still plenty of road and track debris that can clog your factory heat exchangers over time. Since the bumper is off already, it’s a good time to clean up the condensers and replace any worn coolant hoses. Every factory piece, including the plastic mounting brackets and metal base, transfers seamlessly onto the CSF unit, and installing it back into place is literally the reverse of removal.

THE INSTALLATION: PASSENGER SIDE

The clearances on the passenger side are tighter, thanks to a fan assembly, an accompanying control unit that mounts to the backside of the shroud, and the horn that sits between the passenger side AC condenser and the center radiator. Basically, it takes a bit more patience to coerce everything out before fitting the CSF replacement.

Despite the additional accessories, the CSF passenger side radiator fits back into place without any issues and, just like the driver’s side, the new radiator accepts all of the OEM bits perfectly.

THE INSTALLATION: CENTER RADIATOR

While the side radiators have AC condensers to hide behind, the center unit is front and center to any incoming road debris. As such, the factory center radiator clearly took the most punishment — even with radiator protection screens fitted — and was yearning to be replaced. The CSF center radiator follows suit to its counterparts, including aircraft-grade aluminum construction, B-Tube technology, plug-and-play fitment, and the important benefit of increased durability versus the stock unit.

The only small modification that we made was to the carbon fiber support brace at the bottom of the radiator. The end tanks on the CSF unit are much beefier than OEM, so a tiny section at both ends of the brace needed to be modified for adequate clearance. I’d say this was a moot point for a 20% improvement in overall cooling efficiency.

After the three pieces were fitted successfully, it was just a matter of buttoning everything back up, replenishing the car with fresh coolant, and allowing the system to rid itself of unwanted air. As with any cooling system install, just make sure you check on those reservoir levels periodically to ensure there’s enough to go around.

DO I REALLY NEED THESE?

I consider it a cardinal rule to never skimp on three big things: brakes, suspension, and cooling. While the factory units might be “sufficient” as new, even 991 GT3s are ten years old now and maintenance is undoubtedly in the cards. Regardless of whether you use your Porsche on the street, track, or a mix of both, it simply doesn’t make sense to address your cooling needs without upgrading. And if you’re going to put in that kind of effort, you might as well go for the best.

Temperatures here in Pennsylvania have teetered on triple-digit figures, with swamp-like humidity to boot, so it’s been the perfect time to log some miles on the car and give some real-world feedback on its street cooling performance. Even in bumper-to-bumper traffic with the AC on blast, the GT3’s operating temperature never flirted with figures higher than 175 degrees (the midpoint on the gauge). On more spirited journeys through some of our vetted back roads, the findings were analogous, which meant more time enjoying the drive.

This is all a long-winded way to express a definitive “yes” and CSF’s commitment to quality ensures that this sentiment is long-lasting. My only regret through the entire process is that I didn’t do this sooner.


 

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