While Jay Leno is best known as a savior of orphaned or obsolete cars, he also has the same weaknesses as many other gearheads. Thus, you won’t be surprised to discover that Leno owns a brown Porsche 911 T. What will surprise you, though, is what lies beneath its amber paintwork.
The concept of a sleeper is simple: Stock appearance plus a powertrain dialed to up to 11. Leno’s example was a perfect candidate for a sleeper build: It’s the base 911 trim and was produced in greater volume compared to its more desirable S trim sibling. Leno wanted to keep his 911 T numbers-matching, so the modifications remained subtle—but the result is anything but underwhelming.
The most significant mods lie in the engine and differential. The stock 911 T had a 125-hp, 2.4-liter flat-six—at least, it was advertised as 2.4-liter mill, despite its 2.34-liter displacement. Leno’s engine builder bored and stroked the engine to 2.5 liters. This is relatively a relatively modest figure in the hot-rodding Porsche world, but it’s one of the easiest methods to increase power and requires no significant modifications to the cases or heads. Plus, someone who wished to return the 911 to stock in the future would have a fairly simple job of it.
The individual cylinder heads also got reworked with larger intake runners, valves, and springs to capitalize on the increased flow given by the new Weber carbs. The increased power flows through the stock dogleg transmission but the differential was upgraded to a limited-slip unit to make sure both tires provided thrust as much as possible.
Out on the road, Leno nails the throttle, proclaiming that the 911 “makes all the right noises.” The engine pulls steadily to over 7000 rpm, and with 230 hp, it’s got the brawn to back the sound. We American consumers are spoiled by horsepower; we can go to just about any dealer lot and buy 400 hp (or more) in any body style we want. Leno thinks that is just overkill, and that his little brown 911 is just as fun as the high-horsepower stuff he has.
From afar, I have to agree with Leno, but I would love to do a closer experience to be sure. Wouldn’t we all?