Sometimes you see something you like only to have it taken away. Other times you just want to achieve some sort of balance between a bunch of different parts, to combine them into a harmonious whole. Whatever the ultimate reason was, I decided that I was already disappointed in the flat plain alcantara center console arm rest that Porsche provided from the factory. It didn't match what I had seen on a GT4 in Europe during the launch and seemed rather boring when compared to the rest of the deviated stitching interior. Surely there must be an answer...
Porsche could not provide one. You can accept the default console lid or maybe get one with the Porsche crest embossed on it, but still a short one, and still plain alcantara, no leather no stitching and your wallet would take yet another punch from the Porsche options tax man. The answer was to talk to Frank at Exclusive Option www.exclusiveoption.com who specializes in creating custom leather and deviated stitched items for Porsches. In fact Frank knew exactly what I was talking about, the taller center console with the leather and alcantar combo (side leather, top alcantar) with the racing yellow deviated stitching. Frank could either recover my center console lid, or if I provided him with a lid for a taller center console he could do that for me as well. I went to Ric at Suncoast Porsche, another site sponsor, and ordered up a standard 992 / 718 taller center console and had the lid sent directly to Frank while Ric shipped the inner shell and new spring to me. Frank performed his magic, creating another piece as good or better than anything Porsche turns out.
There was only one problem. On a 911 the console plastic cover just pops right off, you install the new center console and you are done. Not so for the 981 Cayman GT4 (or any 981 Cayman/Boxster). Porsche decided to interconnect every part with every other part on a 981 in a giant jigsaw puzzle. Whether this was an engineering exercise or simply designed to vex/discourage 981 owners it is hard to say. It is what it is. So I decided to create an article for 981 owners who might be interested in swapping out their center arm rest for one reason or another. I should point out that if you simply want to swap lids and not change the size of your center console then you only need to remove the 8 hex screws inside the arm rest, swap in the new one, reinstall the screws and you are done. That's too simple for me, besides I wanted to bigger, better, larger, cooler, better feeling center arm rest so I decided to take on the whole enchilada and hopefully this article will make it easier for you to do the same.
We start with removing the plastic trim caps that go over the ends of the aluminum bar behind the seat and the seatbelt assembly. Some people call these the seat belt tower caps, whatever you want to call them, they have to come off. They are only held on by clips so a set of plastic tools and a little prying will pop them off. I find it is much easier to work from the back of the car forward. Once off these pieces can be left on the seat belts and simply slid down out of the way.
Next you will need to remove the exposed aluminum cross bar which is held on by 2 Torx T30 screws on either end. Although these came out fine for me, I would caution not to drop these down inside the exposed rear hatch area or you may have difficulty retrieving them. Once the 4 screws are removed you can lift straight up on the aluminum bar. Note that the bar has a hole in it closer to one side that sits on top of a clear soft plastic spacer on the black plastic piece below it. This means the bar only goes on one way, and don't lose that soft plastic cushion piece designed to prevent any squeeks between aluminum and plastic. With the aluminum bar out of the way you can lift up on the black plastic crossbar below it from the back of the car towards the front until it pops off.
The removal of these piece now leaves the carpet behind the seats exposed and able to be removed. To do so, you'll want to pull out on the carpet in the middle flexing the whole piece so it can be removed from the pieces it is tucked under on either side and fitted under other carpet on the bottom. Of course in the center is the black plastic retaining ring around the back end of the center arm rest that has the carpet fitted into it, this is what prevents the center arm rest from coming off easily like it would on the 911. I was able to lift the carpet up and out over the seat belts and to the side of the car without having to remove my bucket seats. I suppose you'd have more clearance and an easier time if you remove one or both seats but that seemed like a lot of extra work to me so I didn't do it. The following photos show the carpet out, the area behind the seats with the carpet out and the black plastic retaining piece at the back of the arm rest that the carpet fits into.
The next step involves removing that black plastic trim piece behind the center arm rest. To do so, simply grip on either side, flex outwards just a little and work back and forth to loosen the piece and pull it straight up and out. It is held in by 4 pins, 2 of which are covered in soft plastic pieces and they only go in one way. Once you have this piece off and out of the way you can see the center hinge pin. The pin is simply pressed in. Mine was pressed in from the passenger side with the pointed tip facing the drivers side. Using a center punch I drove the pin back out to the left and took it out using a pair of pliers to pull it free the rest of the way. It was pretty easy, mine was not pressed in all that hard. As the center pin cleared my spring came unsprung and bounced out to the side and fell on the floor, this doesn't hurt anything as you'll be using a new spring anyway but I wanted to mention that it could happy to you so be prepared.
The next series of pictures show the center console piece out of the car, the new larger/taller center console lid piece and the new spring. I did compare the old spring to the new spring and they are different and once you examine in person you will see for yourself that you must use the new spring provide with the new kit. I basically laid everything up by hand, inserted the hinge pin again and pushed the spring into place and it was ready to install back in the car.
Fitting the arm rest back in the car was just the reversal of the procedure that I followed to remove it. I laid the arm rest piece back in the car and attached the spring and tested for proper movement. Then I re-attached that black plastic trim piece at the back of the arm rest. I found it easier to do this with the lid released and partially up because the black plastic piece has to fit around the rear of the arm rest in a certain way to get the pins to line up properly and snap back down into place. You don't need to force it, if everything is lined up it goes in pretty easily.
Next I reinstalled the carpet. I thought I'd show a sticker on the back of the carpet which shows that this carpet is for a North American car, as opposed to European carpet which may have the cuts in it for the harness and roll cage already. The carpet goes back in simply by flexing it up in the middle and then fitting it under the plastic pieces on the left and right sides, lining up the holes on the top and tucking it into the center arm rest black plastic trim piece and the lower carpet pieces. Just use your hands and push and flex and you can get it all to fit the way it was.
Next you reinstall the black cross bar base plastic piece, snap it into place, then re-attach the aluminum cross bar with the 4 bolts, being careful not to drop them down anywhere, and then re-attach the two seat belt tower upper plastic caps, being careful to re-position any metal retainer clips that may have partially come up with the pieces were removed initially. I found working from the front of the car towards the back was easier and ultimately everything snaps into place.
The last step is to re-attach the lid with the 8 torx screws that were removed at the very beginning to get the lid cover piece off. Once these are tightened down then test for fit and finish and that the lid latches properly, which it should, and the job is complete. You now have more center console space, a more naturally positioned arm rest height and if you chose an appearance upgrade like I did, then a better looking arm rest as well.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to click the link below for the forum topic and discuss them in the forum. If you want to do this yourself be sure and contact Frank at Exclusive Option (tell him you saw this article on Planet-9) and Ric at Suncoast Porsche can help you source a new taller console. I hope you enjoyed this article, stay tuned to Planet-9.com for more, and coming soon, a dedicated GT4 site at www.clubgt4.com