The debate on the merits of converting a Tiptronic Porsche 911 to manual has been discussed many times. One of the reasons was the large percentage of Tiptronics that were actually produced. It was a popular option at the time, though today, many of us would far rather have the traditional manual gearshift. So, this is a question that has been asked a great many times over the years:

“Is it possible to convert a Porsche 911 from Tiptronic to manual?” and of course “Is it worth it?”

The first answer is yes.

The second is no – or maybe – or most truthfully “It depends.”

In this article, Colin will walk us through an actually conversion from Tipronic gearbox to manual gearshift that we have undertaken recently and explain briefly how it was done, whether it is cost effective and the thinking behind the owner’s decisions to undertake this significant conversion.

At first glance, the Porsche 911 Tiptronic to manual conversion may appear relatively straight forward. A simple gearbox swap, an extra pedal, some associated brackets to mount everything and it’s all done, surely?

Of course, when you take a fresh sheet of paper, or wipe clean Colin’s vast whiteboard on his office wall and begin to detail the process, it gets a little more involving.

We can’t go deeply into the technical issues of the project, however here is an outline of the principal engineering challenges to be faced when converting a 964 Tiptronic to a manual.

Phase 1 – take it apart, or as my dad used to say – “let dog see t’ rabbit”

  • Remove engine & tiptronic gearbox
  • Remove tip box from engine, remove torque converter & plate from crank
  • Remove centre console & gear selector mechanism
  • Remove front seats
  • Remove front carpet sections over tunnel
  • Remove pedal box
  • Remove redundant tiptronic oil cooler & pipework (from gearbox to front)
  • Remove rear drive shafts (complete – big nuts and all
  • Drain & remove brake master cylinder reservoir
  • Remove tiptronic ecu and wiring harness

Phase 2 – Metalwork

  • Remove tiptronic gear selector mount in tunnel
  • Weld in replacement C2 console (or box to you and me). We either spot weld through the gearlever hole or plug weld in from underneath. Either way you need to remove carpets and sound deadening and have someone on fire patrol!
  • Drill bulkhead and tunnel for clutch hoses
  • Paint new console as appropriate

Phase 3 – Engine preparation

  • Fit flywheel (dual mass or RS lightweight) to engine
  • Fit clutch assembly
  • Fit gearbox to engine. Note: you will need new mounting studs & nuts for the gearbox.
  • Fit clutch release shaft & test fit slave cylinder
  • Fit starter motor (note: you need a C2/C4 starter as Tip starter does not fit a manual box)
  • Don’t forget to check the gearbox oil level before you fit it, much easier to do this and top up with the engine out!
  • Reconnect starter, extend wiring for reverse light as appropriate.

Phase 4 – Interior

  • Fit manual pedal box. Preference is to use the later 964/993 pedal box.
  • Fit new brake reservoir with clutch fluid feed
  • Route clutch pipes from reservoir to pedal box and from pedal box through to the rear of the tunnel. Note that LHD & RHD pipes are not the same and please don’t use cable ties, invest in the correct Porsche 2-piece pipe mounts for the tunnel.
  • Fit gear lever assembly, with or without RS lever. If you do go for the RS lever, note that the console we welded in has oval holes and plastic mounts to carry the shifter tube. For a standard lever the tube goes in the low position. For the RS lever, the mounts are inverted and the tube is up in the high position.
  • Fit forward shift link onto crossmember and connect up to lever underneath. Leave adjustment points loose as you will need to tweak them later.
  • Refit sound deadening, carpets and seats
  • Refit shift boot, gear lever and centre console

Phase 5 – Underside

  • Re-hang the engine and gearbox assembly
  • Fit slave cylinder to new flexi pipe, fit to gearbox, connect to main line
  • Refil reservoir and bleed clutch lines. You can use a loop of rope or string under the clutch pedal to pop it back up again when pumping.
  • If necessary bleed the brake system as well.
  • Test the operation of the clutch.
  • Connect the gear selector and test for each gear.
  • If all is well and you’ve got this far it’s a fair assumption that you will already know how to drain & refill with oil, reconnect fuel lines, motronic, etc.
  • Test everything again with the engine running.
  • Fit C2 drive shafts (got to be 964C2 or C2RS – the tip shafts are too short and the C4 has smaller driveshaft couplings).
  • Torque axle nuts with the wheels on the floor and using the foot brake.
  • Connect drive shafts to gearbox with new, clean bolts. Do not over-tighten them!
  • Refit centre tunnel cover and undertrays
  • Run engine up to temp and check oil level.

Now go out and enjoy the drive!

Of course, as Porsche engineers, we love to be involved interesting projects and this was not the first time we have engineered a conversion such as this.

However, from the owners’ viewpoint, the one who is paying for the work to be done, there is a very important, fundamental question:

Is it worth it?

In the world of air cooled Porsche engineering, almost anything is possible. You only need to see some of the custom build Porsches we create for clients to understand how we can transform a Porsche 911, both cosmetically and mechanically, into anything the owner may wish for.

So whilst the Tiptronic to manual conversion is a relatively easy conversion, is said conversion cost effective?

A few years ago, the answer would have been absolutely no. Back then (i.e. before Porsche prices escalated to the level they are at today) it was far easier to sell the Tiptronic and simply keep looking until you found the perfect manual car, be it a 964 or 993.

Roll forward to today’s world, where good air cooled Porsches in short supply and the very best cars command top prices, it is now much harder to find your perfect air cooled Porsche to own and enjoy. That very issue is what prompted the conversion of this car.

The owner had looked for quite some time for a really good Porsche 964 to own and of course manual transmission was one of the non-negotiable parts of his quest. But what do you do when the cars for sale are either C2’s with lower quality/high mileage/high price or the much cheaper C2 Tiptronic?

After a long period of searching, we found his perfect 964. It ticked all the boxes. Guards Red, black leather interior, great paint, well maintained and cared for and with a great history. Apart from the fact it was, frustratingly, a Tiptronic.

Due to the state of the Porsche marketplace it was time to break out the spreadsheet, detail everything involved with the conversion and calculate the point at which the conversion of a Tiptronic to manual becomes cost effective. For this owner the cost vs benefit balance was very much yes, but for others this will vary.

We have to assume that you have exhausted your search of the marketplace and have been unable to find your perfect car.

The cars to the right specification that you have found all require further spending on them to restore then to an acceptable level before going forwards.
You have found your perfect 964 albeit a Tiptronic. It’s in perfect condition and needs very little spending in terms of restoration and being a Tiptronic it’s market value is significantly less than the manual equivalent. Perhaps not enough to cover the conversion cost, but definitely cheaper

Well done, you’ve arrived at the tipping point – pun intended.

Take the cost of the Tiptronic car you have found, add in the conversion cost and look at the final figure. If that is around the price you would expect to pay for your mythical, Unicorn manual shift 964C2 you have the answer to the question, “Is it worth it?”

For the owner of the car depicted here, yes it was definitely worth it. The stars all aligned and the final car that Ninemeister created is, indeed, his perfect Porsche 964C2, five speed manual, RS shift, RS flywheel & clutch.

As we said at the beginning, there is no sweeping rule that decides whether or not a Tiptronic to manual conversion is financially worthwhile. In truth, every car is unique and every client’s requirements are unique, hence this conversion is only a possibility which needs to be explored in greater depth and precise detail to decide on the true value of it.

Basic Shopping list:

  • Gearbox (964C2 or 993C2/4 6 speed) (yes, we can also fit a 993C4 system to a 964)
  • C2/C4 manual starter motor
  • Flywheel
  • Clutch assembly
  • Gearbox mount
  • Gearshift assembly
  • Console (weld in box)
  • Gear knob
  • Pedal box (964 or 993)
  • Master cylinder reservoir
  • Clutch pipework & supports
  • Clutch master cylinder
  • Clutch slave cylinder and flexi pipe (new one only!)
  • C2 gearbox undertray
  • Tachometer (or live with the tiptronic gear indicators)