The Ultimate Porsche Boxster Break-In: Northern California in My 4.5-Liter DeMan Spyder

matt farah route to vine
Testing Route to Vine in My 4.5L DeMan BoxsterMatt Farah

Take it easy? Run it hard? Change the oil right away or wait for the first service stop in the manual? Vary the RPMs constantly, or keep them low? While opinions may differ on the best strategy to break in a new factory sports car, I’ve always followed my own rule of common sense: Just drive the thing like you plan to drive it for the rest of its useful life, only slightly more gently, for the first few thousand miles.

But this was no factory sports car. I’ve just bought what I believe is the best sports car on the planet based on unquestionably extensive experience: I got a 2022 Porsche 718 Spyder in Frozen Berry Metallic, with a manual transmission. It’s almost perfect from the factory, but there’s still room for improvement, which is why I called DeMan Motorsports of Blauvelt, New York.

<p>Route to Vine - Road & Track Experiences</p><p><a href="https://experiences.roadandtrack.com/route-to-vine" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><span class="copyright">DW Burnett</span>

Route to Vine - Road & Track Experiences

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matt farah boxster spyder frozen berry
Courtesy of Matt Farah

Sent there straight from the dealership, with 7 miles, the window sticker, and the pre-delivery plastic still on it, my car found itself soon without an engine. Rick DeMan and his team removed the naturally aspirated 4.0-liter engine and 6-speed manual transmission, heavily reworking both. The car now features a high-compression, 4.5L race-spec motor making five-hundred and sixty-five horsepower, and four-hundred and forty pound-feet of torque. This is roughly 150 hp and 130 lb/ft more than stock. DeMan then shortens second-through-fifth gear in the transmission, blowing the Cayman Complex completely out of the water. The result is a car that has, roughly, the power-to-weight of the almighty Carrera GT. And in my case, just for funnies, it’s pink.

I have waited sixteen months for this car. You see, the Volkswagen Group had a little whoopsie back in February, where a cargo ship carrying a couple thousand cars from VW group’s portfolio caught fire and sank deep in the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Bentleys, Lamborghinis, possibly a few Bugattis, and a slew of Porsches and Audis were lost for all-time, including one pink roadster destined for yours truly. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the accident, and $450 million in cars can be replaced eventually.

deman motorsports boxster
Courtesy of Matt Farah

The second car was delivered to DeMan Motorsports in September. Then, with new engine fitted, it spent a couple weeks at the spa known as Larry Kosilla’s AMMO NYC studio getting a full paint correction and protective film. (If you’re interested to know why a brand new car needs a paint correction, I did a very thorough podcast with Larry about this very topic.) Then I shipped it to HRE Wheels in Vista, CA for a set of ultra-light R101 wheels in Frozen Polished Champagne, saving three lbs per corner and adding a bit of pop to the finish by drawing out some of FBM’s gold flake. Finally I collected it myself and took “Strawberry Shortcake” home the second week in December.

Rick DeMan recommends a pretty specific break-in process for this engine to ensure maximum longevity for use in a street car: Drive for 8-900 miles at light throttle, under 6,000 RPM, varying the load and engine speed where possible. Then drive another 3-400 miles at increased throttle and increased max engine speed, but only in the lower four gears, and stay off the redline. Then, perform an oil change and nut-and-bolt check between 1,200 and 1,500 miles. After that, it can run free, but no track work until the second oil change at 3,000 miles.

boxster spyder manual shifter
Courtesy of Matt Farah

Does this seem highly specific? Somewhat intense? Possibly overkill? Maybe so, but when you’re spending deep in the five figures for a high compression, high performance engine and you want it to last a long time in your brand new six-figure sports car, just listen to the guy who built the thing. My strategy to minimize the pain of the break-in was straightforward: Do it all at once! To keep my engine speeds in check, I would need a road trip with my wife, who gets carsick if I drive like Road & Track pays me to drive.

This year’s Route to Vine is going to be exceptional. I know, because I made the route last year, and last year was brilliant. I was tasked by our events team to somehow improve on it, and I actually believe I have. But the most important part of route-making is a reality check, presenting us with a mission.

We left Los Angeles, Yetis full of coffee, at 5 AM. It was well before “traffic,” yet I’m never surprised by how many people are out driving at that hour. Nevertheless, we covered nearly 300 miles in four hours and change, stopping for breakfast at the iconic Pea Soup Andersen’s, most of the way to our destination. My car still uses the factory valved exhaust, which we kept in quiet mode for the highway transits so we could hear music and talk over the ample wind noise offered by the non-insulated, manually operated Spyder top. Set to quiet and at an 80 mph cruise, you’d never know the car had been modified. It even returned 21 mpg at a 79 mph average for the highway leg!

matt farah boxster
Matt Farah

The Route to Vine begins on the iconic San Francisco Presidio, heading north over the stunning Golden Gate Bridge, through Sausalito and San Rafael, and into the rolling hills of the Nicasio valley.

It wouldn’t be a Road & Track experience without the Track, so like last year, we have rented Sonoma Raceway for our guests to lap their own cars one one of the best and most famous circuits in America. We will also be giving ride-alongs with R&T hot shoes and pro-drivers in this year’s hottest new sports cars, and in KTM X-Bow race cars by Sonoma’s in-house pros. And there will be chances to win a trophy and prizes with our timed autocross event.

After a day at the track, we will proceed over the mountains and drop into the Napa Valley, ending at the luxurious Hotel Yountville.

matt farah route to vine
Matt Farah

We arrived in Yountville, in the heart of Napa, California, which is famous for being more-or-less owned by celebrity chef Thomas Keller, in the afternoon. I was immediately thankful for my decision to specify the car with 18-way sport seats rather than the hardcore, fixed carbon fiber buckets. The sport seats offer plenty of lateral bolstering and thigh support for windy roads or even for track work, but with adjustable lumbar and the kind of softness you really want for four days on the road.

Yountville is a small, one-street town focused really on three things: wine tasting, eating, and Thomas Keller. There are some cute shops, including one that sells almost exclusively Panama hats (a must if you’ll be attending Car Week in Monterey this coming August). More importantly, it’s a nice walk on a sunny street after a long day in the car. We ended the day by “scouting” Bottega Napa, which Route To Vine will be dining at this February, and experiencing a phenomenal Italian meal, excellent service, and several delicious local wines.

matt farah route to vine
Matt Farah

Each day of this year’s Route to Vine has a theme. Day one is the race track, around which most of our activities are focused. Day two is about the Vine. We departed Yountville after breakfast, putting the top down on the Spyder to enjoy the sunshine for the lower-speed backroads and vineyard trails. The drive is short, winding up and over the mountains to Healdsburg, in the midst of Sonoma. Our first road seemed promising, until we realized that recent heavy rains up here in the north had turned it into something resembling a rally stage. Technically the road is paved, but you’d never know it from current conditions. I three-pointed the Boxster back down the hill, and recalculated a new route.

Though only about 60 miles of driving, it is a stunning 90 minutes. Healdsburg is home to many famous wineries, plus lots of local shopping, crafting, and culture. The roads into town are spectacular, climbing tight and twisty over the mountain out of Yountville before dropping into endless vineyard fields and grape processing facilities. The tarmac is excellent on our recalculated segment, and I opened the taps on the Spyder’s exhaust to let it echo off the mountain walls and the metal silos back at me, the bass track of a bored-out thumper making me smile even far, far below redline, with high-compression bangs on the downshifts - no burble tune here, this is the real thing all those copycats are copying. We arrived at the Montage Healdsburg, a first-rate property atop a hillside with its own vineyard, a stunning pool, gym, and spa facility, and new, modern bungalows, each with its own deck and fire pit. Our reality check paid off—baseline Google Maps directions put you at the Healdsburg City Dump, rather than the actual hotel entrance.

matt farah route to vine
Matt Farah

Speaking of Vine, the second half of day two features a visit to a pair of well-known wineries for tastings: Silver Oak and Medlock Ames. Silver Oak, in particular, is worth the visit as the facility is absolutely stunning. If you’re not into wine tasting or prefer to shop, the town of Healdsburg is very charming and worth a stroll around, with lots of local artisan crafts to take home.

Day three starts early, and the theme is Road. There’ll be a lot of them, but it’s worthwhile. My wife and I departed Montage around 8:15 in the morning, towards the Pacific Ocean. Almost immediately, vineyards give way to redwood trees and the morning mist of the big, old forest. Route 116 winds westward through the forest into the famous Russian River Valley, following the river itself all the way to the seashore. I hope the event itself brings out the weather patterns we experienced on the scout; it was properly cinematic as the sun broke selectively through low-slung clouds and fog.

matt farah strawberry shortcake boxster
Matt Farah

We turned south at CA 1, the Pacific Coast Highway. PCH is long, and when one describes it, they are almost always taking about the most famous Big Sur section south of Monterey, or the “highway” portion of it in Malibu, where all the celebrities and financial criminals live in nine figure homes. To say I was blown away by the northern section of the PCH is an understatement. We wound our way down the ocean bluffs for sixty miles of epic vistas, soaring seabirds, and peaceful architecture in between charming oceanside villages. The road is beautifully cambered, and presents an enormous array of tight hairpins, open sweepers, and big zero-G undulations.

The famous Sea Ranch featured some of the most spectacularly designed homes in the country. We stopped for coffee in Bodega Bay, a surf community that’s just made my short list for places to eventually retire. Then on to Point Reyes, the perfect spot for fresh California oysters right out of the ocean. Route 1 continues into Muir Woods, then the famous Stinson Beach, winding back and forth, back and forth, over crests and loading up high-G bottoms like a classic wooden coaster. Unlike Big Sur, the road isn’t clogged with sightseers and RVs. Even at 10 or 11 AM, my pink porker wasn’t held up by a single slow-moving vehicle. With the odometer cresting 900, I was able to run the car through its gears at full throttle, experiencing an explosion of power that is basically unheard of with naturally aspirated Porsches. Roll into the power in second, and the traction control lights up, keeping the car in check. At the top of third, it still wants to let go. Best make sure the tires and temps are warm before going anywhere near the floorboard in this thing.

matt farah boxster spyder deman motorsports
Matt Farah

Eventually, the road ends in Sausalito, where I pointed the Spyder south on the 101 Freeway. As freeways go, the driving is epic. That particular section of the 101 hugs the mountainside providing massive vistas of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island, and the city. Back over the Golden Gate Bridge, we are forced to cross a portion of the city itself to finish the route on top of the Silicon Valley Peninsula.

Skyline Drive runs the entire length of the west side of the bay, and its reputation is well deserved. It’s one of America’s most famous driving roads for a reason: fast, open sweepers undulating along the ridge of the mountain sloping downwards from both sides. Huge redwood trees loom overhead, and though the road never seems to be totally dry, it has an abundance of grip even with a constant sheen. The northern half of Skyline is somewhat poorly maintained, and has a lot of car traffic, so it can be bumpy in a stiff sports car. Though I wouldn’t trade my Porsche for anything, I remembered fondly the Polestar One I took on last year’s Route to Vine, which soaked up this bumpy road like nothing. The PCH is for sports cars—Skyline is a grand tourer’s paradise.

Halfway down the peninsula, we stopped for cheeseburgers and Diet Cokes at the legendary gearhead haunt, Alice’s Restaurant. The parking lot is full of M-cars, Porsches, touring motorcycles and classic roadsters.

South of Alice’s, the tarmac instantly gets better, and we are treated to 27 miles of perfect driving, third and fourth gear sweeping, cambered bends, rarely touching the brakes, just lightly engine braking towards each apex, as we head south towards Santa Cruz. Finally, Skyline Drive concludes at the famous Route 17, and we cruise in quiet mode the final six miles to Canepa design, home of some of the finest classic race cars, super sports cars, and collectible rarities on the West Coast. Bruce Canepa himself, ever the gentleman, gives my wife and I a tour of the current projects, which as usual, will supposedly take five minutes but before we know it, an hour has gone by. Every car in his shop is the most interesting car you’ve seen that year.

canepa design
Matt Farah

From Healdsburg to Canepa is nearly 200 miles of backroad driving and I’m not gonna lie, it was tiring. But it’s also one of the best driving days of my life, with perfect roads, epic vistas, plenty of places to stop and stretch, and glimpses into idyllic northern California lifestyles. The kind of drive that, dare I say it, I’d pay my own money to have someone organize for me.

We spent the night in Santa Cruz at a cool little hotel on the water called the Dream Inn. Route to Vine participants will depart from Canepa. Some will head home, some will continue on to Monterey, or into San Francisco for the night. Some will ship cars and catch flights, and some will keep driving. I'll be able to relate to that last group, as Hanna and I had four hundred miles to go to get home.

matt farah deman
Matt Farah

Fortunately, it was easy sailing. With the car back in quiet mode, we made the transit back to Los Angeles in total comfort, only hitting traffic within five miles of our home, because, of course, LA. By the time I pulled into the garage at Westside Collector Car Storage, the odometer read 1430 miles. Less than a week after taking delivery of my car, the break-in is complete, and as of this writing, I’ve had the first oil change and experienced what a three-gear pull on the floorboard is like. If the feeling of 565 horsepower in a 3,100 lb Spyder doesn’t put a smile on your face, I don’t know what will. I plan to do that a lot over the next ten years with my new toy.

The Route To Vine will be this coming February 14 to 17 starting in San Francisco and ending in Santa Cruz. I hope you all will join us!

<p>Route to Vine - Road & Track Experiences</p><p>$9500.00</p><p><a href="https://experiences.roadandtrack.com/route-to-vine" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><span class="copyright">DW Burnett</span>

Route to Vine - Road & Track Experiences

$9500.00

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DW Burnett

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