Porsche 911 V8 Cabrio (996) | The Brave Pill


Most of us will love both Porsche 911s and V8 engines. So what could be better than combining the two? Pill has previously featured various tweaked and tuned cars among the merely brave-for-being brave, but this week we enter a new and altogether scarier realm. This definitely isn't a gentle nip-and-tuck, rather a level of surgery which is normally conducted with chainsaws. Behold, the union between an otherwise innocuous 996 Cabrio and a GM LS376 crate engine.

Many will regard such an unlikely heart transplant as desecration, and the very idea of a 911 without a flat-six engine behind its rear axle as sacrilege. But Pill's mission is to celebrate the automotively courageous and this is definitely that. Just imagine the trolling potential of what, GT3 front bumper aside, is a stock-looking middle-aged 911 cabrio with both a big-cube V8 exhaust note and enough performance to blow a 996 911 Turbo into the weeds.

This isn't a new idea, of course, and the vendor of our Pill isn't the first person to have had it. People have been swapping new and unlikely engines into 911s for decades, some even managing to do so before the launch of the water-cooled versions made the plumbing considerably easier.


But now fate - and the unfortunate tendency of both 996 and some 997s to throw expensive engine problems - is creating a steady supply of cars in need of new powerplants. IMS and bore scoring are terms that owners normally only whisper while holding crucifixes, but when they strike they often leave a broken 911 that will cost most of or even more than their value to put right. The seller of our Pill doesn't say that's what has happened here, but given the base car's low mileage it seems likely. (This was also the backstory to the similar turbocharged conversion that PHer Argoose/ DT8R documented doing to a 997 Coupe a couple of years back.)

Our Pill does without turbos, but the rorty tune and 525hp output of the crate engine that was fitted 3000 miles ago means it has nearly twice the output of the original car, indeed more than a 996 GT2. GM's V8 has always offered a huge amount of bang-per-buck in terms of both power-to-weight and power-per-quid; it's actually lighter than the flat-six it replaces, and the engine occupies less space.

Successful engine swaps are about far more than just finding space for the new powerplant. Even motors that have come from somewhere else in a brand often cause problems; I was once asked to drive a GT-R engined 350Z which ran as if it was being fuelled on wasps and had a dashboard lit up like Oxford Street in December. Even a car with the limited electronic sophistication of this early 'noughties 911 is likely to need plenty of fiddling and fettling.


Our seller reports the car is running an aftermarket ECU which is able to talk to the 911's digital dash. They also assure potential buyers that the air-con is still blowing cold. But there is no mention of how the transplant has been integrated with the base 911's traction and stability control systems; the answer could well be "not at all." On the plus side, it's a Carrera 4 so there should be plenty of traction, and has a manual gearbox which will play nicer with the V8 than an OE autobox would.

Beyond the new engine there have been various other changes including freshened suspension, Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, high-performance brake pads and a modern aftermarket infotainment system. It also comes with a hardtop and storage stand for this.

There are a couple of other issues for the next buyer to take into consideration. Firstly, one of the most grizzly-looking MOT fail sheets we've seen in Pill history for the most recent test in June, which seems to have been the first since the V8 was fitted. The tester reported that the car's bonnet wouldn't stay closed - which was probably just a post-rebuild niggle - but the warning "emissions test not completed due to CO and lambda excessively high and vehicle exhaust running red hot" is altogether scarier. The car passed later the same day, so the problem must have been solved relatively easily. Still, not the most reassuring thing to see on the list.


The second problem is one that you've probably spotted already - the price. It's entirely possible the car owes its seller at least the Β£28,995 that is being asked for it given the scale of work that has been carried out, but we all know that isn't the way the market tends to value cars like this. The figure represents a substantial premium over what an original and unmolested version of the base car would cost, and is actually higher than some leggier 996 Turbos. It's a serious ask for something so eccentric, especially as it doesn't seem to include the GT3 front bumper that the car is currently wearing.

But to circle back to the reason we're here, it's certainly brave, although many will likely see it as being more of an over-gilded lily than a double-dose of awesomeness. Whoever does buy it will be getting something close to unique; at least none of your mates are likely to have something similar.


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Comments (92) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Billy_Whizzzz 07 Sep 2019

    Yup that’s brave. The price if nothing else.

  • Venisonpie 07 Sep 2019

    If someone asked what's the ultimate 911 spec not to have this would be it.

  • Nerdherder 07 Sep 2019

    Pass! Very entertaining read though.

  • mooseracer 07 Sep 2019

    Venisonpie said:
    If someone asked what's the ultimate 911 spec not to have this would be it.
    Well, at least it is a manual.....

  • richthebike 07 Sep 2019

    Beat me to it! At least it's a manual smile
    And some people want silver.
    I'm not sure I'd post pictures of the car being thrapped around Spa if I was trying to sell, although that may reassure somebody that it actually works.

    Price is fanciful regardless.

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