Wire Mesh Grills- Radiator Protection for your Porsche

One of our most popular items for the newer generations of Porsche’s 911 are our Rennline Wire Mesh Grill Kits for the 996, 997, 991 chassis, along with their 987 and 981 brethren. For some reason Porsche decided to forgo any kind of radiator protection, mounting them right at the front of the car and leaving them exposed to the elements and road debris. With our experiences on-track and on the road, we saw the need for a custom tailored kit. Our grills install behind the front bumper but in front of the radiators to provide maximum protection while maintaining a factory fit and finish. Unlike other kits on the market, we don’t use any tape or glue, and no modification to the bumper is required. Instead our grills attach to the inexpensive, replaceable duct work that fixes to the back of the bumper, meaning reverting back to stock requires no paint matching or major body work.

Gbree's 991 Carrera S with Rennline grills, tow hook and gopro camera mount
Gbree on the Rennlist forums with his Rennline grill, tow hook and GoPro mount equipped 991

 

A History of Porsche and its Radiators

1996 marked the beginning of a major shift in Porsche vehicle production. The spiritual successor to the 914, the Boxster was a mid-engine roadster that slotted into the lineup below the 911, both in price and performance. Although the 993 chassis 911 had only been on the market for a year, Porsche released the Boxster which was a sign of widespread change in Porsche’s performance lineup.  Up front were two parts that foreshadowed the end to a 35 year tradition- twin radiators mounted up front with coolant pumping through them- COOLANT! And sure enough, when the 996 chassis 911 debuted in 1999 it was the first water cooled Porsche 911 ever.

Original Porsche Boxster with radiators in front
Yes, it has now been a quantifiable “while” since the original Boxster debuted

By changing to a water cooled engine, Porsche risked alienating its die hard enthusiasts but was able to thoroughly modernize the 911 power plant. This had huge benefits in terms of thermal efficiency and power potential, but offered some packaging challenges. To balance the added weight and provide optimal airflow to the now-necessary radiators, Porsche mounted either two or three radiators in the front bumper depending on options packages. Twin radiators, one on each front corner, were standard with a center radiator as optional for customers living in extremely hot climates or who planned on frequently tracking their cars. This setup has marched on, with minor revisions and redesigns, right up to today.

 

What Makes Rennline Grill Wire Mesh Grill Kits Superior

When we set out to create a product, there is a huge number of factors we consider. First and foremost is function- Rennline parts are designed to be used and abused either at the track or in the real world, but fit and finish, aesthetics, and a host of other design elements. For these reasons, we decided that the only way to achieve all of our primary goals with these kits was to install them behind the front bumper. This preserves the look and design that Porsche originally penned and also allows all installation hardware to be tucked out of sight, taking the OEM fit and finish to another level.

Because we are track junkies as many Porsche drivers are, we needed to ensure there would be no adverse effect on the cooling capabilities of the radiators with our grills installed. Extensive hot-weather testing ensued by setting up the shop 997 to run a number of mesh configurations and monitoring engine temps through the OBD port. We noticed surprisingly little variation during this exercise, and saw almost no temperature difference through several different setups. In the end, we chose to manufacture the grills from a webbing we found had no discernible affect on coolant temps but kept the openings small enough that they would keep all but the smallest of debris out.

Black Rennline Wire Grill
A Rennline Grill powder coated in black

 

Silver Rennline Wire Grill
A Rennline Grill powder coated in black

 

Stainless Clips for Rennline Front Grills
Some of our specialty stainless clips, fabricated in house, specifically for our grill kits

 

Installation Time!

So you have decided you want to protect your expensive radiators, and your engine for that matter, and you have decided you want a very OEM look. If you settle on one of our kits, there are a few basic steps you will need to perform. The first is removal of the front bumper which sounds a lot more intimidating than it really is. This process varies by generation, but a quick search for your chassis and “bumper removal guide” should easily yield photo-heavy DIY guides for those attempting this process at home. Although it can be a bit tedious finding every last clip and screw, the process itself is not hard.

Once the bumper is removed installation of the grills is a snap. Each kit will include specialized install instructions for your specific bumper, and will include all necessary hardware to complete the install. The instructions will show you how to place the grills and will lay out specific hardware locations as well. If you would like to see the process for yourself as performed on our former 997 shop car, you can see our installation video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioegNjKr12k

After you have the grills affixed to the front bumper, installation of the bumper is the reverse of removal. The only difference is that the duct work tends to sag as you try to assemble the front bumper back onto the car. It is important to make sure these ducts fit securely into their receptacles on the bumper, so take your time and make sure to support the ducts from the bottom as this often helps alleviate the sagging problem.

And you are done! We find dealerships tend to complete installation in 2-3 hours, while a DIY garage or driveway job can last a bit longer if you have not had the experience of removing the front bumper before. Be sure to take advantage of having the front bumper off to thoroughly clean out your radiators and surrounding crevices since you are in there anyway. Many customers also take this opportunity to give their radiators a quick spray paint touch up to make them look uniform behind the grills. Many independent tests have time and time again shown that as long as the paint is applied thinly, it will not affect the thermal efficiency of the radiators.

Silver 991 GTS with black Rennline radiator grills
A 991 with the Aerokit front bumper sporting some Rennline Grills

 

Silver 991 GTS with Black Rennline grill in black with center radiator
This customer elected to install the center duct from a 3rd radiator car so he could use our center grill

 

Silver 991 GTS with Black Rennline grill in black with center radiator
To use our center grill on a car with no center radiator, you will need the retaining frame designed for cars with the same front bumper you have but equipped with a 3rd radiator

 

Get out and drive!

Now it’s time to get out and enjoy your newly protected 911, Boxster or Cayman without worry of road debris ending your engine’s life. Whether at the track or on the street, you should be covered no matter what the tarmac throws at you.

CAE Shifters: The Shortest Throws for your Porsche 911

If you track your Porsche, BMW, or really any other car, you know the value of precise, accurate shifts. Traditionally the best solution to sloppy OEM linkages has been a variety of aftermarket short shifters that reduce the length of gear changes, usually increasing effort and making the lever more ‘notchy’ as a result. But CAE Racing has the ultimate solution for any street or track car- their CAE Ultra Shifter. A work of art, CAE shifters are precisely engineered to provide the ultimate in H-pattern upshifts and downshifts while requiring minimal modification and changing of factory parts. This results in gear changes that are almost as fast and accurate as a fully sequential transmission but at a fraction of the price.

 

CAE_ultra_shifter_964_993_porsche
This particular shifter is designed for the 964/993 C2 chassis

 

Having the engine and transmission located at the rear of the car means that Porsche’s offerings traditionally benefited from relatively direct shifting. Early 915 and G50 transmissions used a rod style linkage that directly connected the shift lever to the transmission’s tail housing, making shifts anchored and direct. There are certainly improvements to be made, the U-joint style shift couplers, for instance, tend to get loose with age making shifting vague and gears harder to select. When the 986/996 chassis debuted this all changed though, as Porsche modified its rear-engine supercar to use shift cables instead of a solid linkage. Although both of these systems have positives and negatives regardless of model, a CAE shifter can make all the difference in the world to either transmission setup.

 

Machined from billet aluminum, CAE Shifting Technology has been producing these works of art for a variety of platforms for years now. Combining the finest in German engineering and manufacturing, each shifter is constructed primarily from aluminum to ensure lightness and strength. This from-scratch design allowed CAE to engineer an extremely tight and precise shifter that maintains the factory H-pattern while reducing shifts from a throw to a snap. Their exacting design and impressive results has led to a couple of copy-cats on the market, but nothing matches up to the original in terms of manufacturing quality, precision and functionality.

 

Rauh_welt_rwb_interior_cae_rennline
CAE Ultra Shifter in a customer car along with Rennline Pedals, Floorboards, Track Mats and Glove Box Delete

 

One of the downsides of cable shifted transmissions is a tendency towards being vague and feeling unconnected. This is because there is no ‘hard’ link directly from the transmission to the shifter- and this problem is greatly exacerbated during hard driving, whether through canyons, over your favorite mountain, at an HPDE driving event, or during wheel-to-wheel racing. CAE addresses this by providing a precise gate on the shifter itself that translates to the exact same movement of the cables no matter where the transmission is in relation to the shifter box. It is beyond impressive that they have achieved all of this while retaining the factory cables- yes, every 996/997 unit is designed to work with the stock shift cables, although CAE does offer its own upgraded units which further highlight the capability of this piece.

 

BMW_interior_with_cae_shifter
One of CAE’s BMW offerings bolted into a serious racecar interior. Don’t see your vehicle on our website? Just email us Orders@Rennline.com and we can more than likely get you one of these for your own street or track car!

 

Simply put the CAE Ultra Shifter is the current pinnacle of shifter design. Creative engineering combines with artful manufacturing, precise design and gorgeous looks to create the ultimate package for getting into the next gear. Short of investing thousands on a sequential aka ‘dog box’ transmission with straight cut gears, you are not going to find a more track-ready solution for maximum control over your gearbox. Everyone we know who has driven a car equipped with one of these billet beauties, whether seasoned track veteran or casual enthusiast, has been impressed by the accuracy and control these short shifters give you over whatever transmission they are attached to. So much so that merely referring to them as a short shifter almost feels egregious. CAE shifters are in a league of their own, and that is why we have chosen to offer them for sale right along side our own Rennline parts and accessories.

 

You can find our complete line of CAE shifters at www.Rennline.com if you do not see your vehicle listed please contact us Orders@Rennline.com or (802) 893-7366 to see what we have to offer for your make and model.

 

CAE_shifter_964_993_Rennline_interior
One of our favorite 964s- Check out @Sparkyvw on Instagram for more pictures of his Rennline and CAE equipped interior.

 

CAE_shifter_black_porsche_interior
Another Rauh Welt build featuring Rennline Pedals, Track Mats, and floorboards, along with a CAE Ultra Shifter. This is a very clean example of what a track car interior can look like

A Modern Mini Cooper Born to Rally

As many of us can attest, life sometimes gets in the way of your favorite motorsport, whether it is auto-x, rally-x, track days, or even concours events. Patrick Munhall, a fellow New Englander, had such a break from rally-x; one that lasted almost 10 years. His triumphant return to gravel came behind the wheel of his R53 Mini Cooper, which isn’t the typical AWD monster that likely comes to mind when discussing rally racing. Built upon a solid chassis with good basic dynamics, Patrick’s success since rejoining the sport has proved the Mini is capable of succeeding in a diverse range of motorsport environments. However, that success has not come free, and this Mini has been torture tested throughout New England as the chassis, suspension, engine and under body protection have been fine tuned for competition in the New England Region SCCA Rally-X series.

Patrick's R53 Rally Mini Cooper
Patrick and his BDC Enterprises Inc. sponsored Mini in mid season form chasing the more powerful AWD cars- and catching more than a few!

 

Almost any experienced driver will tell you that seat time is the most important factor in dropping lap times, and although rally-x is no different, the abuse that a car takes during an event often requires additional vehicle preparation. And that is where Rennline enters this story. Patrick first tried fabricating his own skid plate, and although sturdy enough for most disciplines, during his second event at New England Dragway he managed to catch the front edge in a covered hole and literally folded it in half!

 

First attempt at a homemade skid plate that failed and was replaced with a Rennline skid plate
The Mini’s first skid plate that met its demise at the hands of a rather large hole at NE Dragway

 

A photo of the total failure of Patrick's homemade skid plate
Unfortunately it wasn’t quite up to task when Patrick found a hidden rut on course

 

A Rennline skid plate purchased for Patrick's rally Mini Cooper
Time for a little upgrade! Rennline skid plate ready to go in and provide some protection!

 

Rennline Skid plate installed in Pat's R53 rally Mini
Our skid plates feature OEM quality fit and finish, and are manufactured right here in Vermont from heavy duty aluminum

As their first season progressed Patrick and the Mini came into their own, going from 3rd in a small field of entries in their first event to a 2nd place finish by their 3rd event. Had it not been for a cone that jumped out into the middle of the course causing a penalty, they would have found themselves in first after the final run of the day. Results like that make you want more of everything, and so the modifications began piling on. To maximize grip Quaife provided one of their legendary torque biasing limited slip differentials (LSD) which can transfer power from wheel-to-wheel based on the amount of slip it senses by using a series of helical gears to transfer load to the wheel with the most grip.

 

A quaife differential ready for installation in the Mini's transmission
The Quaife arrives!

 

The new differential being pressed together
Time to keep those wheels spinning in unison!

To keep the engine firmly connected to the drivetrain a Valeo flywheel and clutch package was added along with refreshed axles to deal with the strain of competition. To get a rally-appropriate ride height Patrick fabricated 1/2″ spacers for the strut mounts which raise the ride height of the Mini that same 1/2″. Powerflex control arm bushings stiffen the suspension and help to retain as much of the factory suspension geometry as possible, and a BSH lower engine mount reduces the amount the engine and transmission can move as they hammer through gravel, mud, snow and muck in pursuit of victory. Most importantly these modifications were carefully chosen to compliment the already agile and able Mini chassis without adding any exotic or expensive parts to the mix.

Custom strut mounts for lifting the mini
Custom strut mounts to help gain the Mini some ground clearance

 

Rear suspension with custom strut mounts installed
Suspension back in, ready to rock and roll- literally

 

With the handling well sorted and the mini protected, it was time to turn attention add some power by turning up the boost in this little Mini. A Way Motor Works supercharger pulley was installed which is 15% smaller in diameter resulting in a supercharger that spins faster and creates more boost pressure across the rev range. An Ireland Engineering exhaust minimizes exhaust back pressure allowing the engine to breathe easier at these power levels. Way Motor Works claims up to 20hp from this modification alone, but when you’re on rally style surfaces power is nothing if you can’t put it down. To that end Patrick runs Black Rocket Rally Tires on gravel surfaces and switches to Bridgestone Blizzaks for the ice and snow events that cover half of the year’s schedule here in New England.

 

The R53 Rally Mini on its gravel setup
Gravel setup

 

The R53 Rally Mini on its snow and ice setup
Winter mode aka 6 months out of the year

 

Finally it was time to turn attention to the interior because to be fast you need to be in the correct environment both mentally and physically. Again a few choice modifications were planned to enhance the Mini without ruining its inherent strengths. A set of our Rennline track mats were installed to enhance footwork and keep the footwells clear of debris that could lodge itself in, behind, and around the pedals. An OMP wheel helps navigate turns faster and helps reorient the wheel when things get get a little too crazy. A Megan Racing short shifter reduces the length of gear changes and adds accuracy to the feel of the transmission. This winter saw the installation of Sparco race seats for both the driver and anyone brave enough to strap themselves in next door, which will come in handy during events like the Vermont Winter Rally which is organized by local rally legend John Buffum.

 

Rennline Track Mats and Sparco Seats in this Mini
Sparco race buckets and Rennline Track Mats make for a race friendly interior

 

A picture of Patrick's proper racecar interior
All business, no frills; just the things a pilot needs for some full-speed fun

 

For his time, effort, and dedication Patrick has been rewarded with a Mini that can go toe to toe against more powerful and grippier cars on almost any terrain. We are just happy we were able to help him in his goal of improving the reliability and drivability of this cool little car. With our ever expanding line of Mini Cooper parts and Patrick’s desire to continue improving the car and his skills, we are sure there will be another update coming in the near future. If you are attending a New England rally cross event in the coming months, keep an eye out for Patrick and his Mini atop the podium!

 

Patrick's BDC Enterprises sponsored Mini ready for the 2016 season
Patrick has his Mini fine tuned and ready to vie for the title in the 2016 season

 

Race car life!

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“Minor weight reduction” aka making the car faster, handle better, and easier to drive all at once

 

Rennline: Continuing Expansion

Here at Rennline we are lucky enough to have a devoted customer base that understands our commitment to quality parts and dedication to customer service. This relationship has grown in size and breadth over the years; it saw us expand from a small industrial space in downtown Winooski, Vermont into our current building, and now it is allowing us to build on that foundation. Both literally and metaphorically. But none of this would be possible without each and every customer, so again, we would like to thank everyone, from the smallest order to the largest, for their support of Rennline Inc. and the parts we manufacture for your Porsche, BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, Mini and more!

 

The entrance to the addition
The entrance to the addition

 

The addition getting close to finished!
Getting close to finished!

 

 

The left side of our new space
The left side looking from the door from the existing building

 

The right side of our new space
The right side looking from the door from the existing building

 

One of the most important aspects of this new space was what to name it. After a few days of deep contemplation, waterjet operator John Bombard emerged with the answer: his ‘office’ would henceforth be known as “The Jet Hanger.” Of course, despite completion of the naming process there was still much to do to finish the transformation of our addition. Plumbing and wiring needed to be run, drains, grates and filters installed in the floor to catch overflow water and filter our the garnet which is a super-fine abrasive that gets injected in small amounts to aid in water jet cutting.

Running the requisite fire suppression systems.
Running the requisite fire suppression systems.

 

Grates with filters for waterjet overflow
Grates with filters for waterjet overflow

 

Preparing the sprinkler system for installation
Not quite as aesthetically pleasing as our own extinguisher mounts!

 

Beginning to move the jets meant a lot of muscle was needed. These things keep about 10,000lbs of abrasive sand in the tank and about 8,000lbs of water (128 cubic feet)- PER JET! We had two that needed to be cleaned out, disassembled, moved and reassembled in the Jet Hanger. This was an all-hands-on-deck kind of day, but luckily we are a hearty folk up here in Vermont and the entire operation went smoothly and relatively quickly considering the shear volume of material that needed to move.

 

Welder Connor and Fabricator Jeremy getting the job done
Welder Connor and Fabricator Jeremy getting the job done

 

Manufacturing Team Leader Buck getting into the trenches himself
Manufacturing Team Leader Buck getting into the trenches himself

 

Clearing out space in the existing shop
Making moves!

 

A HUGE increase in space
A HUGE increase in space- the majority of the open area you see here was taken up by waterjets

 

Getting the first waterjet situated in its new home
Getting the first waterjet situated in its new home

 

The first of the water jets to get back up and running
And we are back in business! Or… at least partially. 1/3 jets back up and running!

 

We took this expansion as an opportunity for us to add some machining capability since we are going to have sufficient additional space. We have had great luck with Flow Waterjet, so we contacted them again for one of their newer units. This was delivered in a timely manner and we began setting up our newest toy… er… machine! This puts us up to 3 waterjets in house, two CNC mills and a CNC lathe along with a couple manual mills, two huge press/brakes, a CNC Time Saver and plenty of other odds and ends to makes sure we can tackle any challenge from any job that might present itself.

 

New waterjet incoming
New waterjet incoming!

 

We had Flow's technicians and engineers come up to Vermont to do the final assembly and calibration
New arm for the new jet! Of course, we had Flow’s technicians and engineers come up to Vermont to do the final assembly and calibration

 

General Manager Tom, Engineer Dave and Owner Paul set up the new garnet abrasive hoppers
From left-right General Manager Tom, Engineer Dave and Owner Paul set up the new garnet abrasive hoppers

 

Flow Waterjet #3 for the Rennline shop
The eagle has landed. Flow Waterjet #3 for the Rennline shop

Things have progressed even a bit further than since these most recent pictures; we are almost back to fully operational waterjet status and the moving/reorganizing process has begun in the existing shop. This will be a lengthy one as we add additional storage racks and finalize the overall layout to maximize space and work flow. Although this operation has already been a huge amount of time and effort and there is still plenty of work to be done, seeing it all start to come together is bolstering us for the final push in getting it done!