One of the inconveniences you put up with driving a desperately low car is that normal road objects become obstacles to be avoided - or else. An errant traffic cone on the road no challenge for an SUV with proper ground clearance, but for a 911 GT3, it’s a lane change or I’m coming to a stop. You know those curbstones in parking lots that notify a driver the car has reach a certain depth? Those are silent killers to a GT3’s front bumper, a thing I was to personally experience on only my second day of ownership.
It’s been over six years since I’ve owned a really low car, a Toyota Corolla that was unceremoniously slammed to the ground when I was in my Fast and Furious phase of car life. In the lowered Corolla I became a master of attacking driveway entrances at fantastic angles, all to avoid scraping the front-end. My subsequent two cars were the opposite in temperament: the WRX STI, with its rally racing roots, ate road obstacles for breakfast, while the MX-5 had more ground clearance than it really ought to. In the six years of owning them, my curbstone avoidance muscle have greatly atrophied.
Which explains how I drove the GT3 into one as I pulled into a Target parking lot (dangerous places, those). I had the presence of mind to turn on the front-axle lift to raise the car, yet absentmindedly ran right into the curb. Thankfully it was at crawling speed, so the damage wasn’t too terrible:
The plastic lip proved surprisingly robust against my abuse, though on aesthetics it’s not looking that great. I’m okay with “regular” wear and tear from road debris, but my latent OCD tendencies cannot stand to look at such eyesore. A replacement piece was needed immediately.
Porsche knew the GT3’s front lip will get annihilated from use - low ride height, remember - so in their infinite brilliance, they designed the plastic piece to be easily replaceable. It snaps into the bumper like a jigsaw puzzle, secured with only two screws at each end. A replacement lip is quite economical too, costing around $250 shipped to my door. Most Porsche GT car owners consider it, like tires, a wear item and a thing to be changed out regularly.
A week after ordering from Suncoast Porsche, this giant box showed up:
Obviously the lip itself is quite thin, but due to the boomerang-like shape it really needed such a large box for shipping protection.
I’d plan to reuse the two retaining side screws, but Suncoast Porsche made that null by including new screws along with the front-lip. That’s attention to detail I can appreciate. Note the teethes on the inner lip that clip into the bumper skin.
With a fresh new lip ready for install, the first step is to remove the old tattered unit, starting with the two screws on the side - the easy part. After that, it’s all brute force and some ingenuity. Some of the clips gave way without much of a fight, and others held onto the bumper for dear life. I was literally tearing the plastic apart, yet the few teethes at the center valiantly refuse to let go. Not wanting to harm the inner bumper structure, I needed some backup.
Out came a bag of tools that every car guy should have: interior trim-piece removers. These small, non-scratching plastic pry-bars proved to be the trick to dislodge the last few stubborn clips. The resulting bumper, sans front lip, is quite interesting looking:
It turns out the reason for the front lip’s robustness is a skeleton frame underneath. You can clearly see the holes where the teethes are inserted into, and the areas the prop up the lip structure. It may appear fragile, being that it’s a section of the bumper, but the skeleton is super strong, and felt in my hands solid and unmovable. Porsche have engineered this perfectly.
Installing the replacement lip, in comparison to the agony of removing the old unit, was a complete non-event. The teethes slotted right in, and it with a few light smacks it was aligned and beautiful:
Now the question becomes: how long will this fresh new front lip last? The mean streets of San Francisco will have the final say.