Jae Lee has been wrenching on Porsches for decades. He started Mirage International back in the late 1980s. He and his customers have been driving very fast on many race tracks, and it’s with Lee’s knowledge of the Porsche engine that they all win. Now Lee is putting his Porsche knowledge to the test as he stretches the limits of what the air-cooled flat engine can do.
When you hear about the displacement of a Porsche engine, it seems the magic number is 4.0-liters. That’s where Singer likes to play. That’s where Porsche made its own splash with the 2011 GT3 RS 4.0. They specifically called out the engine size in the name of the car, because of how proud they were of the mighty mill. Jae has pushed past the others. He’s living large with a 4.4-liter engine.
This engine has been in development for the last five years. The last two of those years have been spent out on the track. All of the hard work that Lee has put into this engine is clear when I hop behind the wheel of his personal track toy and test bed. It’s a 1973 911 T that’s been converted to full track spec, yet it’s still street legal. Lee has owned this car since 1990, so to say it’s his baby would be an understatement. Yet Lee has enough faith in the car and his engine to playfully smile and ask if I want to take it out to do some donuts. Yes, of course I do.
We that engine
On the power front, the 4.4-liter engine is putting down over 400 horsepower to the wheels. That’s a lot of juice for a car that weighs probably 2,200 pounds. Maybe less. Out on the track, the horsepower is tremendous but so is the torque. The curve is damn near flat and there’s no late shove from a turbo to worry about. This is a naturally aspirated engine, and it claws the car forward with fury throughout the entire rev range.
And I’m barely dipping into its capabilities, for it’s an intimidating machine. The tires are sticky slicks that need some heat to party properly. The brakes are heavy. The suspension is race-car stiff. This is the real deal, and it’s both awesome and frightening.
That is, until I spin it. Streets of Willow is a forgiving bit of tarmac in that there’s really nowhere for you to get into too much trouble. I pull back in and Jae asks how the car is, so I tell him it’s fantastic and I’m afraid of it. He tells me to keep lapping it. And I do just that.
And then I go out and bake the donuts like Lee requested.
This is a great car with an impressive engine built by a man who knows what he’s doing. If you want a Porsche to go fast, you should visit Mirage International and have a chat with Jae Lee.