Brace yourselves for a fairly long read. This story starts with the purchase of a Porsche 911s in October of 1998 and is a continuing chronology of my relationship with Porsches since then. This narrative takes a few twists and turns and, upon rereading it, even surprises me. I think it's those damn cars. They are quirky, simultaneously brilliant and stupid, expensive to operate and repair, challenging to operate well and a whole bunch of other contradictions. I think they are affecting my mind. I can't understand why I appear addicted to them when I'm not sure I even like the damn things. I have broken up the story into chapters so that those of you that are following this saga can just skip to the latest chapter to see how my relationship with these cars is progressing.
October, 1998-An Innocent Runs Afoul of a 911s
Well, I guess it had to happen. After all these years avoiding Porsches, I finally bought one. Not intentionally mind you. It was one of those cases where the damn thing just followed me home. After a great deal of heartburn, misery and anxiety with that car, I wound up buying another one and another one. Look-I think I had better back up and explain.
I never have liked Porsches. I owned a Speedster for about three months in the early 60's. The silly thing had a built Super 90 engine in it and was always fouling its plugs. Couldn't sell it fast enough and have never regretted that decision. Concentrated on English cars from that time on and no regrets. But Porsches have been in the background of my automotive life. Indeed, if you frequent any sort of competitive event, you will always see them scuttling around the track. They are shaped sorta like something that scoots for the baseboard when you turn the lights on and have a nasty, raspy sound. The infuriating thing is that they seem to win an awful lot of races, which I flat have never understood-cause they seem to be all wrong. So, as I say, they have been in the back of my mind for years. Kinda of a frustrating puzzle which I have diligently tried to ignore.
So how come I bought this miserable Porsche? Well, I suppose you could say I had a bad day or needed a new experience am terminally stupid or whatever but, the truth is, I don't know. Here's the deal-I had taken a few days off work to do some construction in my shop and, as I was driving to the welding supply place, noticed this red 75 911s along the side of the road with a "For Sale" sign on it. Hmmm.., looks shiny. Upon returning from the welding supplier, I slowed down to scan the car further-Paint looks good and body seems straight. You know, driving open cars in Seattle during the Winter is a real drag- mold city. It's a nice October day but Winter is coming on like a train. It would be great if I got to drive a closed car for the Winter. My XJ12 is getting a little long in the tooth and I'm not sure I want to trust it for another Winter.
The welding supply guys gave me the wrong stuff so I had to go back the next day. Guess what?-Porsche still there. Oh, what the Hell, let's stop and look. Sign says "Inquire in law office". I might have known-a lawyer. Probably wears wide suspenders. But-what the Hell, I have stopped so, let's talk to the guy.
Anyway, the lawyer (Ivan Johnson) was 71 years old and a real nice guy. Ivan and his wife Helena and I still go out to lunch on Weekends. So, we get to chatting and, of course, the next thing is the test drive. Interior of the car is nice and body is good. Ivan has owned the thing since "81" and bought it from a friend who was original owner-complete maintenance history. All the bells and whistles seem to work. Drive around a bit-it goes and stops. Fine. But I have to leave-I have stuff to do. How do I extricate myself from this? He's asking $8.5-Make him a lowball offer-that should do it. Nope-he bites and, before I know it, I bought the damn thing and I don't think I like it.
So what now? A quick flip? No-curiosity is starting to work on me. You know, I have never taken one of these things apart to see how it works nor have I ever driven a 911. Why not fool around with it for a while? 'Sides that-I'm kinda starting to like how it looks-sort of like an egg fried over easy. This little blob-like car. Sort of like a cartoon car-inoffensive yet a little sinister. Well, that is the preamble to my downfall. Why didn't those bozos at the welding place sell me the correct diameter wire for my MIG the first time? Why did I drive down THAT street? Why was Ivan a nice guy? Who knows? Sometimes the stars just line up against you and spin your life off on a tangent.
So here goes. This is the history of Claude and the Porsches liberally interspersed with my opinions on these cars. I fully expect to get abused by the wide suspender crowd for my narrative but, I will just consider the source of the abuse and sleep peacefully knowing God, Colin Chapman, William Lyons, Sid Enever and Henry Morgan are on my side.
The first thing I noticed was that the car was leaking oil. Hey, no big thing to an English car owner-God intended cars to leak a little didn't he(or she)? But oil leaks take on a different meaning when the exhaust manifolds are underneath the engine and the interior of the car is heated by a bizarre system(more on this later) that uses air blown over the exhaust manifolds for heat. This heated air is then blown into the interior of the car. One or two drops of oil leaking out of an engine, when vaporized by a red hot manifold and ducted into your face take on a whole different meaning. THIS HAS TO BE FIXED!!!
Some under car poking around ensued in an attempt to find the source of the leak. Gravity has a nasty habit of causing oil drops to travel to the lowest point on an engine which is not necessarily the place(s) the leak comes from. Can't see squat when you look under the hood either(I know, it's in the back). Full of fuel injection stuff and a mondo fan. But it does look like some goo is seeping out from the joints between the crankcase and two cylinder barrels in addition to the oil that is leaking out of some, as yet to be located place. Well, I guess the engine has to come out.
Now, I am not totally down on Porsches. Taking the engine out of one is trivially easy. Four bolts, a few hoses and some electrical connectors and that's it. Engine out in about two hours. Piece of cake. This is a good thing because I suspect Porsche owners have to drop the engine frequently. Once the engine was out, I found the source of the leak-a leaky oil pressure warning light sender(cunningly located on the top of the engine toward the front of the car(rear of the engine-remember its backwards). Even more cleverly, placed just exactly so a leak from the sender can easily drip through an inspection hole in the bell housing and onto the clutch. Dumb design but a quick fix-new sender and clutch disk. However, my Porsche parts guy Fred says that lots of these senders leak and they need to be replaced frequently-Hmmm. Bought a new one from Fred.
November, 1998 - April, 1999-The Pit of Despair
Well now that I have the thing out, I notice that it is blowing goo out of the joint between #1 cylinder and the crankcase. This is not good. The engine must come down-remember I was kinda curious about how the thing went together anyway. So, I disassemble the motor. Now this is the point where I started to feel like Alice must have felt when she went down the hole after the white rabbit. I swear, that engine has more bits and requires more special tools to disassemble than a Stealth fighter. Took me two Weeks to strip it. I would work for an hour or two and find out I required a special tool. Metric of course but monstrous crowfoot wrenches, 12 point spline drive sockets, oval cam holders, extended hex wrenches and specially designed feeler gauges? Even if you go cheap, tools will set you back about $300.00.
I mentioned my parts guy Fred a while ago and I should backtrack a little here and explain that. Of course, I had no contacts in the Porsche world when I bought the red demon so, thing one was to make some. Luckily a major Porsche place is located about two blocks from where I work. Paul Weir Porsche and their parts manager, Fred is a pretty straight up guy. Fred and I are good friends now. Hint to prospective Porsche owner: make sure you are close to a parts place. However, as of June, 2001, Paul Weir has closed their doors. Rumor has it that they just couldn't cover their monthly nut with their service revenue-too bad. Their lovely parts and service area has just been converted to ---A DOGGY DAY CARE CENTER---!!!!. True. Drop your pooch off in the morning and he/she will be fed and entertained till you come back at night - Jesus!! Is there some cosmic connection?? Porsche repair shop evolving into a doggy day care center. Word has it that Fred is now working as a construction estimator.
Anyway, I wander down to Fred's place and make enquiries about recommended therapys for 911 engines and the first dialog went something like this:
Me: Hey, I am working on a 75 911s and need a complete gasket set, oil pressure sender and clutch plate.
Fred: That's a 2.7 liter engine.
Fred: Had it line bored and timeserted? Upgraded to dilivar studs?
Fred: You know, we offer a complete rebuild package for those engines for $4995.00. You should bring your engine in. (Then he goes on blabbering about line boring, timeserting and dilivar studs plus other stuff such as pressure fed tensioners).
Me: Line boring? I'm not building a racing engine-what are you talking about.
Fred: The book says line bore every time you take the engine apart. The cases are magnesium and warp-also the steel studs pull right out of the cases so you need to timesert the holes and replace the studs with dilivar studs whose coefficient of expansion is the same as magnesium. You particularly must do this on a 2.7 engine-those cases were never strong enough for that displacement.
Me: Jesus!(Ivan you SOB, you knew this).
Me: Look Fred, just give me the stuff I want now. I will measure up the cases and let you know.
Fred: OK, but you really should talk with one of our mechanics about this. Let me call Monty out of the shop.
I figure this is some sort of grief counseling service Paul Weir offers to Porsche owners. Anyway, Monty comes ambling out of the shop. A shop full, I might add, of quite new Porsches undergoing similar extensive repair work. Monty earnestly counsels me to let the professionals deal with a 911 engine but my back is up by this time-no ##@#%% engine has ever gotten the better of me and none ever will! Thanks, but no thanks Monty-I'll be in touch. Here's another lesson for the hobbyist: Don't let your pride get in the way of rationality.
I beat a hasty retreat toting a $200.00 clutch disk, $33.00 sender and $200.00 gasket kit full of more "O" rings than I ever knew existed and stop next at another parts place/machine shop I have dealt with for years-Autosport. I have known John Maloney for a long time. He does excellent machine work and has never let me down. Second opinion time. John's done a lot of cylinder head work on Porsches and to quote him: "The valve guides will be toast. I have seen worn out valve guides on Porsches with less than 20000 miles on them. Yep, they do pull their studs out of the cases and sometimes, the studs just break for no reason. I don't like to work on them much but I will do the heads for you."
So, I take the heads, crankshaft, flywheel and con rods down to John's shop. Do the heads, grind the crank, surface the flywheel and re bush the rods. John called me up the next day and said that evidently the number 1 cylinder had swallowed a bolt at some time. This bent a valve and mashed the bolt into the head and piston. Sure enough-you could see the bolt imprint on both the piston crown and head. That explained #1 weeping oil at the joint between the cylinder and crankcase. The crank just needed polishing so John finished all of the machine work- $800.00 please. I didn't say John was cheap but, he does good work and I trust him.
Let me ask you a few questions at this point.
I think the answers revolve around the fact that Porsche is a low volume producer of cars that inherited a bad design and, for years, couldn't afford to(or were too stubborn to) abandon it. Look, the things grew out of the VW beetle and the 911 was just a Beetle floor pan with a new body and a flat six stuffed up its butt. The things were obviously tail heavy so-rather than admit a design flop, Porsche casts the crankcases out of magnesium(really light you know) and adds a bit of weight to the front end. Colin Chapman must of died laughing. I suspect Porsche has spent decades screwing with basically a dumb design in an attempt to brute force out inherent design faults. Look at some other goofball features of the car. More goddamn sway bars than Carter's has pills, different size tires front and rear and, on the newer ones, 4WD?
Porsche has made hundreds of parts changes over the years. Their shop manuals for the 911 comprise volumes. I have the first four volumes of the manual set which covers 911 cars to 1975. I understand you need another eight to complete the set. Porsche is too small to really engineer their cars when you consider the number of different models and variants they have made over the years. They squirt them out of the factory and let the customers develop 'em. Witness the head stud problems. Porsche came up with the dilivar stud and timeserting as a factory recommendation. They went back to aluminum for the 3.0 liter crankcases. How about a $325.000 injection cold air box(plus about $300.00 labor to replace)that explodes whenever the car backfires into the intake tract? Aftermarket suppliers have made a pop off valve to correct this. You need to carve a hole in the air box and glue this contraption in the hole. Then when the engine sneezes, the sneeze flies out the flapper valve.
If you think I am unimpressed with Porsche engineering, you are right. The 2.7 liter engine is ridiculous with its tinfoil crankcase, billions of parts, self-destructing air box and that nonsense with the studs. But there are some nice things in the engine. The crankshaft and con rods are works of art. I am tempted to just keep them and throw the rest of the car away. Pity Porsche didn't get really creative and take that crank and those rods and pistons and cylinder heads, cast a nice six cylinder in-line thin wall cast iron block and bolt those goodies to it- That could have been a real engine. Water cool it too. A Porsche engine is neither air nor oil cooled but a combination of both. The oil system does feature a dry sump which is a nice touch but not essential for even aggressive street use. The rest of it is more plumbing, gigantic oil fittings with fine threads screwed into a magnesium block, and more ductwork and blowers than are in my office building.
More looking at the engine ensued. I noted that the left hand camshaft had a worn lobe and that follower was toast. I also noticed that the engine had been apart before and not terribly tenderly put together-a couple of head locating dowels left out but had been upgraded to the pressure fed chain tensioners. The cam chains and sprockets were toast-so those needed replacing. Lots of gouging on the chain cases so, I suspected a prior history of cam chain tensioner failure. A perusal of Ivan's receipts confirmed this. Fred had the cam re ground for me for $150.00 plus another $200.00 for chains and sprockets. He also suggested I upgrade to a later style of oil pressure relief valve-about $50.00. A couple hundred for new rod and main bearings and $75.00 for new con rod bolts and nuts(stretch bolts-can only use em once) and I should be ready to put the thing back together. Oh, new rings too.
Much fiddling ensued. Plastigauged the snot out of the engine. What a drag. Lay the crank down-fiddley-fart the other 1/2 of the crankcase over a billion studs, torque them all up to spec and then take it all apart again. Assembling it for real requires 5 hands since you have six con rods and two timing chains flopping around all over the place. Three con rods and one chain have to go into one case half and the rest goes in the other. Did I mention fitting piston pin clips on the engine? Well, the less said about that the better.
Why did those people make a car with 12 individual cam follower shafts? Each one has to be precisely located in its bore and is held in place with expander plugs that cause the ends of the shaft to swell and lock in the bore. Why not two cam follower shafts per side. All of the follower bores are in line. Oh, have to use a special goo to glue the cases together-$30.00 please. "O" rings that must be exactly located but, you can't tell when they are since you have to bolt the mating assembly over them? Anyhow, got the thing back together and in the car.
Results? Massive oil leak, miserable oil pressure and a horrible whining sound from the engine(and the owner).
Replaced the oil pressure transducer-$40.00 and that got the pressure up a bit but still very marginal. Turns out that the oil warning light sender, a new item(remember Fred told me about these?) was defective. Replaced that-leak stopped. Discovered that the alternator bearings were a little rough and replaced the alternator. Alternator replacement is not trivial since the cooling fan is pressed on the alternator shaft. The entire blower has to come out and then be pressed off the shaft which leaves you with the alternator. A rebuilt alternator - $130.00 at NAPA- made the engine quieter but the whine much louder relatively. Set off every car alarm in the parking lot.
I drove the thing for about 500 miles this way. You know-you kinda hope it will heal itself and, in the interim fixed a couple other things. Alternator charging light would come on for no apparent reason. Back to Fred. "Oh Yeah, you need to parallel a resistor across the light terminals to insure that the field coil in the alternator gets sufficient current to energize it. Porsche makes a resistor kit for this." Sure enough they do-a little resistor with terminals on its leads that plug in to the terminals on the alternator warning light. Put that in(you have to take the dashboard apart to do that). Replaced the rear sway arm bushings since the sway arm was flopping around in them and noted that the sway arm was seriously worn where it located in the bushings. About 1/8th of an inch of the arm was worn away- Well Jesus!!, I have never seen that before. Plastic eating metal?? Discouragement set in and I bolted the old bars back in the car.
The engine didn't get better and, additionally wouldn't hold torque on a #1 cylinder head stud, so I took it down again. Sure enough, a stud was pulling out of the crankcase. Yes, Fred, I know you told me so. Main bearing wear patterns were weird so I took the cases in for a line bore and timeserts- $500.00. Replaced the oil pump - $300.00 used from a buddy of Fred's plus a breakfast for Fred and his daughter. Replaced main bearings, nose bearing and idler shaft gear - $300.00. Another gasket set and bottle of goop- $200.00. Results-same as before.
What the hell is going on here? I have replaced everything and have made the same mistake twice. What the hell could it be? No help from Fred at this point and Monty is getting a little smug on me. Sort of "I told you so." So I visited John Maloney again. John referred me to another guy that runs a Porsche shop in Seattle- Denny Acres and I went up the hill to cry on his shoulder. You know-this is tough. What are you going to do? Go in and tell a total stranger that your Porsche whines? You can, and I did, imagine the comebacks.
Anyway, Denny helped. I think that he figured out where the whining is coming from. Turns out that, when you fit later model chain tensioners to an earlier model you can either fit later model idler sprocket arms at the same time or fit big thick washers on the ldler arm shaft and use the earlier arms. The previous mechanic (I have the name of this bozo's shop but won't put it on the Internet) had fitted the new tensioners, used the old arms and didn't fit the washers. Denny says that this omission will cause the chain to waltz around in the case and make noise. The lack of these washers probably explains the awfully worn condition of the old sprockets as well. Here's another hint for the rebuilder. If you are dealing with an engine that has never been taken apart by anyone else, you can make some assumptions, ie., all the parts are there and in their proper locations and all the sizes are standard. NEVER, Never, never make these assumptions with any engine someone else has been into. I forgot this principle in my haste to get the car on the road. Why is this car making me so stupid?
So I bought those washers and they are burning a hole in my pocket as I write this. I can put them in without dropping the engine. No joy on the oil pressure though-the engine must come out again and I haven't the heart to do that right now. But I think I like Denny. His shop is full of older Porsches and his hands are dirty. I'll try the washers this Weekend and hopefully score one triumph. When I get the resolve, I will take the engine out again and run the cases and crank up to Denny's shop. There we will have a measurement session to end all measurement sessions.
So where do I sit now? I have spent the last 5 months screwing with this thing and don't yet have a usable car. You can add up how much cash has gone down that rathole- I don't want to know. Frustrated? Yes. Feeling inadequate? Yes. Never want to see another Porsche? -Yes.
This is a work in progress but for now, I would like to summarize my opinions on Porsche and what I have learned about them.
In the Middle
These scenarios are repeated regularly when I visit Fred and the shop is always full of newer Porsches and the shop manager's office is always full of suits. You draw your own conclusions. Last time I was in to see Fred, he was diagnosing a Porsche that was in the process of dying on I-405. Via cellphone naturally. When I left, he was telling the driver to disconnect the battery for 10 minutes-reconnect and try to start the car. Something about giving the electronic brain time to reset itself-Jesus!!
So when all's said and done, I don't know how I feel about these cars. Turns out I put down a whole lot of positives and many of the negatives could apply to other Marques. Maybe I am just suffering from culture shock. I am kinda a Bud and burger sort of guy. Hanging around with a bunch of people who have never gotten their hands dirty(in the physical sense) unbalances me a little. Obviously, my rebuild efforts have come to nought and this can't help but influence me. But, this Porsche has some good points and I might get to like it. A bunch of guys that can make such a beautiful crankshaft and set of con rods deserve some slack.
One thing I will say is that Porsches are different enough to give the inexperienced pause. I'm no slouch as a mechanic and have never had such a disaster to account for after about 35 years of rebuilding all sorts of engines and completely restoring upwards of 30 vehicles. My advice to the uninitiated is to, of course, read up on em before you buy(don't do as I do-do as I say). Turns out the 2.7 engine is a recognized dog. Probably, a swap to a later engine might make sense. Eventually, I will have it apart again and beat some sense into it.
Right now, the car is sitting in the garage and, I swear, I can hear it snicker when I walk by. Maybe I should disconnect its battery and reset its brain-it might wake up as a Lotus. But look-its April now-the Winter of my misery with the Porsche is a rapidly dimming memory, the sun is starting to make appearances and the robins in the bushes are busily coughing up all the water they swallowed this Winter. Today, I can't feel too bad about my Porsche experience. No time anyway. Gotta get the Lotus oil changed and prep the E-Type, AC and Morgan for the Spring. Gotta check Rallye schedules. When's the next Club track day??Rule Brittania!!
I put in the chain idler spacers last Weekend and this did reduce the whining to a tolerable level. Encouraged, I rediscussed my Porsche problems with the cast of characters mentioned above. No joy yet on the oil pressure. Monty is going off on a tangent about different oil pumps, pressure relief pistons/springs and modifications to the crankcase in 1976. This sounds too esoteric to me but, on the strength of Monty's comments, I purchased Bruce Anderson's book on Porsche 911s, Porsche 911 Performance Handbook. Pretty damn good book. It turns out that Porsche did indeed, change the ratio of the scavenge to pressure sides of their oil pumps in 1976. Upped the volume of the pressure side and reduced the volume of the scavenge side. These pumps may be retrofitted into earlier cases but different pressure relief springs ad pistons must be used and the crankcase oilways need modification. I used a newer pump, newer springs and pistons but didn't machine the crankcase as required. Hurriedly replaced the pressure relief pistons and springs with the earlier ones but same-same results. Oh, well. I think the only solution to my problem is to have the cases line bored for oversize bearings. I suspect the bearing journals are oval.
Saw another Porsche die today. Guy drove up to where I work in an oh-so-shiny 911SC, lowered with beautiful custom wheels. When I saw the car, it was pulling up a slight grade into the parking lot and was emitting a really cool squeaking sound. Guy stopped in the truck loading zone and gingerly opened the hood. Sunglasses on a string and bony knees exposed below khaki shorts. He gave the underhood a thorough inspection and then closed the hood by using a rag to keep fingerprints of his new wax job. Got back in the car, took a few hits off an inhaler and drove off- his Porsche squeaking madly. Got about 1/2 block before he started to really rev the engine -more squeaking - more revs - then silence. Wanted to go down and tell him he needed to have his crankcase machined for an uprated oil pump or maybe, he needed to reset his electronic brain-but I didn't.
May, 1999-Monty to the Rescue
I finally caved in and sent the Porsche over to Monty's shop. Monty quit Paul Wier's and started his own shop in Redmond. I couldn't bear to take that engine apart again so decided to let Monty have a go. He's had it about one month and reported that, Yup, the oil pump was the wrong one for the 1975 crankcase so he will have the cases modified for that. He also reported that one of the "O" rings on the scavenge side of the pump had come loose and drifted into the oil thermostat. I don't know how that happened but it sure as hell did. I went out to the shop and looked myself. There it was, bigger than snot, stuffed up into the thermostat.
We had the cases measured by some guy Monty knows that builds NASCAR engines. He used some laser measuring equipment and reported that the cases were OK. Monty says that's that. Engine should be fine now. I will wait and see. I don't trust that little sucker(the Porsche). Monty also found a bunch of other stuff wrong: worn throwout fork and cracked first gear slider. So we fixed those things. I also balanced the engine and ordered a 1974 stainless equal length exhaust system. I am so upside down on this car now it's pathetic.
July, 1999-An Update and More Nuts and Bolts
The oil pressure situation is fixed. I get about 15psi per 1,000 RPM which is right on the money according to everyone I talk with however, the engine is a little too rattley for my taste. I swear I hear piston slap. Anyway, I can run it and rev it now and have to say that I might, just might, mind you, become a convert. There's lots of things I don't like about the car-not the least of which is the miserable gearshift(very vague) but that balancing job and the 1974 exhaust really improved the engine. I feel comfortable enough about Monty's work to let the world know that his company is called Redmond-European and it is located in Redmond, WA.
The oil temperature runs about 210+ on a hot(80 degree) day and I think 210 is about all I want to see on the oil temp. gauge. Monty is scrounging used parts for me to allow me to fit an external oil cooler. Ho hum, another $5-600.
I couldn't stop the original cam covers from leaking oil(on my brand new stainless exhaust system) so upgraded to later Turbo cam covers- $100 please and, while I was at it braided stainless brake lines.
As I was setting the valves the other day I noticed oil seepage from the head gasket joint on number 4 cylinder. Oh, my God!! Yup, several of the lower head bolts on the passenger side bank of cylinders were loose-and I mean only finger tight. Retorqued everything to specs and am now playing wait and see. What next? Monty didn't leave these loose-they didn't mysteriously unscrew themselves. I don't know what to make of this development but have an ominous feeling.
But enough of this whining. The bottom line here is that the more I drive this damn car, the faster I seem to go. This thing flat flies and keeps me relatively relaxed at a frequently, very excessive rate of speed. I am down to just below 11 minutes on my favorite stretch of road and could go lots quicker but won't. Velocities are already getting out of hand. Bought a radar detector. I am going to get into serious trouble with this car unless I restrain myself big time. It just keeps whispering to me "faster, faster, faster". It suggests to me that I am a faster driver than I am and, sometimes, I listen. The power this car can exert over me is almost hypnotic. All in all, I am glad I didn't hook up with a 911 until later in life. Presumably my gray head contains enough sense now not to allow this demon to kill me. I doubt that would be the case were I in my 20s.
Would I recommend an early 911 to anyone as a car you might actually need to use regularly? Nope. Fiddley, expensive and underdeveloped. Hey, hold on Claude-be fair! Would you recommend a 25 year old car(of any Marque) to anyone who needed to use it regularly? Nope. So maybe, this doesn't count.
Do I see an early 911 in my life as a car to compete with? Yep. This 911 could be a kick ass rally car. Develop it this Summer and enter next year's Shell 4000 and the Alcan.
911s are also, in a wierd way, like the flathead Ford V-8s and small block Chevys I grew up with-they can be hot-rodded. There are tons of ways to enhance their performance and quite a selection of factory and aftermarket performance parts to draw upon. That's fun.
November, 1999-Well, it Works
It's November now and I have driven the Porsche exclusively since June(with a few Weekends in the Lotus or Jag thrown in) and thought I should conclude this essay. The car has been prety reliable all Summer and Fall and I have covered about 7,000 miles with it including one long trip. I have renewed the front dampers and replaced the rear wheels with 7" width wheels. New tires all around. The wider rear wheels and 215/60/15 tires required a little fender well "whumping" to give enough clearance but nothing radical was required. I also installed a pointless ignition system and that's about it.
I had one instance of plug fouling this Summer and put in a new set of plugs which seemed to fix that. I have not had any repeats of the head bolts loosening and am very baffled about that incident. Had another puzzler as well. Noticed oil leaking out of the cold air box and, after removing the air filter saw about a 1/2 cup of oil in the cold air box. Sopped it up but ???. Only thing I can think of is that I put too much oil in the engine and it blew out of the filler tube into the cold air box when the machine got good and warm.
I had a good discussion with Monty the other day since I wanted to upgrade the engine but, after thinking about it, I am going to pass. You have to scrap the CIS system to get more power and either use the Bosch mechanical injection system or Webers. The Bosch system requires different cylinder heads. Pistons and cams must be changed as well. This sounds like about $4,000 for another 40 horsepower. Monty recommends swapping in a 3.0 or 3.2 liter engine. He says that they are better engines and will give the same horsepower as a Carrera spec 2.7. They are a good bit heavier though and I just don't like putting any more weight in the rear end of the car so, I will pass on that option.
I will take the engine apart again to replace the pistons and barrels to hopefully get rid if the piston slap the engine has and that's it. Maybe Raceware head studs as well. Monty has been looking for a fender well mounted oil cooler for some time now for me. He located one the other day for $900.00 used so, what the hell-I bought it. It's from an 86 so is a proper cooler not that silly pipe curlique that was on the earlier ones. Came with all the pipes, thermostat and fittings. Speaking of oil cooling- I no sooner got that thermostat installed when the oil tank started leaking. Jesus! Pulled that thing out and found that it had rusted through in about a dozen places. Fred sold me a used one for $150.00.
I haven't changed my mind about the car. I still think it is a silly car. Overpriced, underengineered, needlessly complicated and having a poor basic design. But, dammit, I like driving it. I was flitting along my favorite stretch of road the other evening(my 11 minute tonic)-not driving particularly radically when I zip up behind this new SUV. Notice how those things are getting bigger and higher on almost a daily basis? Anyway, followed this thing for about a mile and then zipped passed on a clear stretch. Zoomed down the hill for the next few miles and stopped into a grocery store at the bottom for some supplies. As I was leaving, the SUV I had passed pulled into the lot. The guy driving got out and asked me what the Hell I thought I was doing driving so fast. I may have gone a little too far but I calmly replied that perhaps, if he were to acquire a proper vehicle, his definition of speed might change. I also pointed out that, in many countries, the slower driver is courteous enough to pull to the side to allow the faster driver through.
The guy started spluttering and marched back to his SUV/truck muttering veiled threats. Well, I guess I am a Porsche driver now. If Porsches piss off the SUV crowd, that's another point in their favor.
March, 2000-An Incredible Sucking Force
John, the guy that works with Monty is selling his 1979 3.0 liter SC. He has tricked it up a little bit and, I have to say, I am tempted. John's getting married and needs the cash to put down on a house so, his Porsche has to go. This entire Porsche business may be uncontrollable but I see one for the street and one for rallys. Here's a picture of the ex-John's now Claude's 1979 911SC. (I couldn't help myself). This one is really cuter than the red one-lowered, wide tires, roll bar and a slightly warmed-up eurospec engine-I like it. I am even getting to like that goofy wing on the back.
I have been driving the SC for a few months now and am in the process of getting it ready for our first rally of the year. Some stuff needs to be done in the next few weeks but, more along the preventive maintenance sort of work. This car NEEDS more power. I think Porsches got wussy during the 70's and 80s. The tires and suspension on this thing can take gobs more power than it has and I suspect emission controls caused Porsche to tone things down quite a bit. The 3.0 liter engine is softer than the 2.7 but is, on balance I think, a better engine. Monty says I need a 3.2 twin plug motor with the DMI injection system. I just might do that.
Oh, the red one's for sale.
May, 2000-Make Me an Offer
That was easy. Sold the red one this Saturday. A fellow that worked for a firm I retained to do some work for my company found my web pages and came to work the next day talking about old cars and, in particular, Porsches. He really wanted the car but, wife said no. Now, this guy had that look in his eye-you know the look. That's the look that says you gotta have it. Sure enough, about two weeks later he calls up and says his wife has given the OK to a Porsche if he met six conditions. He said that he had already met three of them. No, I don't know what they were .
Anyway, he, wife and dog came out to look at the 911s which promptly disgraced itself by refusing to start(bad battery). A new battery and a quite long test drive later, the deal was done. As soon as the check clears, I am ordering some "hand of god" brakes for the 911SC and will get Monty on the horn about that twin plug motor.
November, 2000-Now What?
Well, It has been about six months since I sold the Red Porsche and not much new to report. A couple of "oh my God" disaster calls from the new owner. Not really disasters as I pointed out to him-just learning experiences and I won't embarass him by reounting them. He seems to be a pretty nice fellow and is a car fanatic.
I haven't bought another Porsche yet and haven't done much with the SC. Just driven the pee out of it. A couple of good long trips, plus commuting and a track day. I like the car-this engine feels bulletproof. But, you know, it just NEEDS more power and I am right back into the same trap I had with the 2.7-it costs big bucks to get more power out of these things. I figure about $10K to either redo the 3.0 to a 3.2 with Webers and a nice cam or to swap for a 3.6. OK, so then where am I? I'll tell you where-with more bucks in an old car than I will ever get out of it. No-No-been there, done that. So, maybe dump it and get a 930? I dunno-930s get mixed reviews from the folks I have been talking with. A cheap 3.6 engine?-yeah, right. You know, what really makes some sense to me might be to look for a 74 911s and take it to Carrera specs. That might be a fun car.
Now, there's something else I have to say and maybe this comes under the category of "eating crow" but, what the hell, my skin's thick. About a month ago I hosted a Lotus club run. About a dozen of us had an impromptu tour around Kitsap County back roads-about a 100 miler. Anyway, I drove the Super Seven. These Lotus boys are quite frisky when you get 'em in a bunch and speeds were brisk-to say the least. I was regularly drifting the Seven around the slow and medium speed corners on the tour and making a pretty fair turn of speed. Well, I thought nothing of that until, the next Weekend when I was on the same road in the SC. Know what? The SC was tracking through the same corners-at higher speeds-than the Seven would drift through and, the driver wasn't trying as hard either. Now, there is a possibility that I was really confronting different tire compounds but, I don't think so. Both cars have reasonably "sticky" tires, so I think that I am comparing validly. What I am concluding is that the SC has measurably higher limits of adhesion than my heretofore benchmark car the Seven. The behaviour of the Seven is nicer when these limits are exceeded but.................
February, 2001-Make Me an Offer-Part II
Bought a 930 the other day. Took me forever to get it delivered from Kansas City(it's home). Danced around with this trucker for what seemed like an eternity with the guy giving me one excuse after another. As is often the case, just when I was ready to saddle up and drive the thing back, the guy calls and says he has picked it up. Then, of course, we have "bad weather" incidents causing all sorts of delays but it finally showed up the other day. I talked with the guy when he got here and it turns out his wife was scheduled for surgery and he didn't want to hit the road until he was sure she was going to be OK. OK-fine but why not tell me that up front?
The car's an 87 with about 65K on it. White, of course. Took me a long time to find a white one. Seems like you can find every other color under the sun-fancy metallics and opalescents galore but, basic white seems quite hard to find. I really like basic colors. Somehow, they define a "sports car" to me and frankly, they are lots easier to touch up when needed.
My first impressions are that the 930 is quite a different car from the SC or the 911s and frankly, I don't know how comfortable I will ever be with it. You don't drive this little puppy around the way you do an earlier 911. For one thing, adhesion limits are higher than the SC and for another this car has serious horsepower that comes on very abruptly and, maybe it's just me, but the transmission ratios just don't seem to match the engine's power curve. I really wonder about Porsche's decision to put a 4 speed into this car or could it be that they just didn't have a suitable 5 speed?. It seems like you are in the wrong gear all the time and first gear is sooo tall. I suspect I have a steep learning curve before I get accustomed to this little terror. It feels like it's two cars. Off boost, it just kinda snuffles along. Very docile and gutless. You need to keep it in second or third gear around town because of the high gearing and lack of poke from the engine. All that changes when you rev it a bit and get some positive boost out of the turbo. Then the thing just sort of "leaps" to about 6,000 rpm. Grab another gear and it "leaps" again. Shift up and you get the same "leap" and by this time, you are flat flying at well over 100mph. Oh, Porsche uprated the brakes on this guy. Lovely cross drilled rotors and twin pot calipers with "Porsche" cast in 'em. That's a good thing 'cause this car needs a lot of braking power. And it is just so neat that Porsche cast their name in those calipers. Even highlighted it with white paint.
Anyway, I have scared myself good a couple of times with this thing already and suspect I have a few more moments of terror in store for me as I learn this car. Crank it up on a freeway on ramp and you are going 90+ by the time you get ready to "merge". Merge hell, it's more like a "pounce". That boost gauge is hypnotic and I know I am going to get some tickets. Frankly, I'm pretty sure that this cars limits exceed mine.
The car Is quite luxurious inside with everything electric. Including the stupid electric heater adjustment mechanism which promptly packed up. I've ranted about Porsche heaters before but, in this car, they have taken the silliness to new heights. Porsche has coupled some thermostats and an electric motor to the heater control valves. In theory, a control knob is supposed to tell the motor control how warm you want the interior and the thermostats tell it how warm the interior is. The difference between these two values is supposed to be resolved by this little motor which hums away, sawing the heat control valve back and forth-back and forth. Sawing away that is, until the connecting rod between the motor and heat lever pops off. Upon unbolting the heat control unit, I noticed some scratching and scuffing on it which suggests that I am not the first person to have "popped" that little control rod back into place. I suspect I will get lots of practice in the future.
The car feels much heavier than the SC which, in turn, felt heavier than the 911s. Golly, a sports car with power brakes, windows, mirrors, air conditioning, door locks, power seats and a remote control for the CD player. I think Porsche really got off in the weeds in the late 80's-this isn't a sports car-it's a grand tourer. Oh hell, most European manufacturers do the same thing. They bring out a basic sporting car with their money put into the engine and suspension and then, over time and in response to dealer feedback, soften it and add features. Witness the difference between the Series one and three Jag E-Types. The Series One was a pretty basic sports car but, by the time you got to the Series Three you had power doodads, more weight, wider tires, fender flares and a bigger engine to haul it all around. That CD player remote is a real hoot. How are you supposed to use it-With your teeth?
This Porsche has been pampered from day one. All the documentation came with it(including the original window sticker). The service book shows regular maintenance and top of the line care. Interior and exterior are spotless. Original tool kit and tire pump look like they have never been used. The prior owner must have loved it. If that's the case, then why, oh why did he take it to Pete's stereo to have the new radio and CD player and graphic equalizer and mondo amplifier and subwoofer installed? Dammit, I see this all the time. A nicely done factory wiring harness butchered up to add all this after market electronic stuff. Completely undocumented too. Just a glob of solderless connectors spliced into the harness and tie wrapped around anything they could find. The equalizer mounted under the ashtray so the tray can't be used. It gives you a weird feeling when you pull up the floormats and see a couple of loose wies running down from under the dash and just lying there with their stripped ends touching the floorpan. Are they connected at their other end? Who knows? Are they fused? I dunno. Is any of this crap fused? Wires running everywhere. Jesus- that has to be sorted out. That is not the way to do the job It will take me days to sort this mess out. You know, the English car owners that complain to me the loudest about the faults of Lucas electrical systems are always the guys who have the most zip cord in their cars. I must have pulled miles of that crap out from under the dashes and carpets of English cars I have restored. It's just so dumb to use one color wire to wire in accessories. Or even more cleverly, splice one color to another. Top it off by not soldering the connections-just twist the wires together and tape 'em up. Anyway, enough of that. I'm sure if you have worked on an older car's electrical system, you have seen the same thing.
As I accumulate more experience with the 930, I will keep you posted. I'm not selling the SC just yet. Oh, and I am probably going to tinker with the 930. It's way too quiet for my taste. Get rid of the catalytic and put a nice free flow muffler back in its place. Oh, and I think I see a little oil leak as well. Boy, have I been here before. Preliminary inspection of the engine compartment also suggests that this thing will be a nightmare to work on. I think Porsche may have figured out a way around some fundamental assumptions of classical physics. After peeking gingerly under the hood, I think it's possible to have more than one object occupying the same space at the same time.
The 930 disgraced itself the other day. Now, not a little disgrace mind you, but a very public moon job to its owner. Not terribly expensive to put right but, given where and when it chose to disable itself, I'm a little concerned that I may have a car with an attitude. Wouldn't start the other day when I wanted to drive it off the ferry. I commute into Seattle on the ferry from the Peninsula and, that day, I was in the front of the boat. The boat docks in Seattle and the 930 had gone to sleep and would not wake up. Leaving the boat during commuting hours is sorta like the Indy 500 startup. There were about 200 frantic commuters behind me as the deckhands and I discussed whether to push it off the boat by hand or use their little push truck. We finally decided to push it out of line-let everyone off and continue our discussion later. Now, it wasn't me that didn't want to use the push truck, they were 'fraid to-something about smashing the wing on the back. By this time, I didn't care and was prepared to launch it up the ramp with the front bumper of the first F250 that volunteered. Well, we finally manged to line the push truck up with the 930 and pushed it off the boat, up the ramp and onto the dock. All this done in front of, I swear, 500 jeering onlookers: "Get a Ford", "Porsches suck" and "Push the ......... thing in the water" seemed to be the most common comments.
So I get it on the dock and poke around a bit. I can hear the ignition amplifier so I assume the ignition is OK-has to be fuel. Poke around in the front and rear fuseboxes. Found a blown fuse in the engine compartment box-replace it with a spare (Never leave home without them) and we are off and running again. Off to work and home that night with no problem but, it wouldn't start the next morning. So I used the SC for a few days while I figured out the problem. Turns out it was the fuse in the luggage compartment fusebox that fused the pump circuit. Its plastic body had melted just enough to collapse the fuse and allow it to make intermittent contact. But wait-that's not all. Fuses just don't get hot for no reason and a close look at the fusebox binding posts for the pump circuit showed that this circuit had been overheating for years. Something's up.
I cleaned the binding posts which were horribly oxidized from the heat, cleaned the pump relays and snugged the binding screws down good and tight. This helped but that circuit was still getting slightly warm to the touch so something else was up. I next checked the current draw on the pumps. Pump 2 was stable at about 7.8 amps but pump one would read 11-12.0 amps upon startup and then drop back to about 7.8 amps after a few minutes running. Replaced the pump and threw in a couple of pump relays for good measure and I think that problem's behind us. Oh, the blown fuse in the engine compartment panel? That was for something totally unrelated.
June, 2001 A Road Trip and Some Tinkering
Took a good long road trip in the 930 covering lots of ground in Northeastern Oregon. Lovely place: good roads, lots of hills and curves and, best of all, NO traffic. The 930 likes 80+ speeds and really starts to feel happy at 90. What it doesn't like is slowpokes. This thing just gets sulky when you get below 60. You have to downshift to keep the revs above 3,000 to get any power out of the engine. Blew by lots of motor homes and such. I love a road trip. Fill up the tank with super, check the oil and tires and load the CD player with ZZ Top and Stevie Ray Vaughan and crank things up. Some days I wanted to drive so I would be up and out early. Other days, sleep in and snoop around the countryside. Nice tour, particularly Highway 3 from Enterprise to Lewiston, but the minute I pull back into Washington State, the State Patrol nails me. Here I am, no traffic and nice day, wide straight road, pootling along at 65 in a 60 and I see this Trooper in the oncoming lane. I watch him do a bootleg turn in my rear view mirror and he comes screaming up the hill to pull me over. "You in a heap of trouble boy". License, registration and proof of insurance and he runs back to his car to check my paperwork and verify my driving record and other credentials -hoping against hope I bet that; (a) my insurance has expired, (b) my license has expired (c) I have a bunch of tickets on my record or (d) I'm wanted for some heinous crime-like littering or smoking in a non-smoking restaurant. Sorry bub, I'm clean as a whistle.
No ticket, just a lecture-you know the one about endangering life, limb and property values by exceeding an arbitrarily assumed speed by 10%. Yeah, yeah, yeah. In my view, speed limit enforcement is an incredibly stupid farce but, I guess they need the work. Beware, WSP now audiotapes the trooper's interview with you.
Anyway, traded Monty some Mahle pistons and cylinders I had bought for the 2.7 for a new B&B muffler and put that on the car. That muffler really made a nice improvement. Boost comes in about 500 rpm lower than before which really aids 930 driveablity and it feels as if there is a noticeable power improvement. Also replaced the intercooler seals since the old ones were looking a little tired and replaced the turbo intake hose since it had started to delaminate.
I am going over to Monty's to have him look at this car. There are a couple of things we have to sort out. That damn oil leak for one and, for two, the car likes to follow ruts and cracks in the freeway a little too much. Tire wear patterns look good so, I think something's up with the front suspension. We will see.
Put the car on the rack at Monty's and measured up the front suspension and, sure enough, one of the control arms was bent. Replaced that plus new Bilsteins, front tires and an alignment and we are OK on that front. There are a few little things that need attention on this car but, nothing exciting. I guess I'll fix 'em but really, this thing intimidates me. One look under the hood and I feel an overpowering urge to take a nap. I just don't want to aggravate myself trying to work on the damn thing. There is just so much stuff literally stuffed under that hood. So where's the fun. Driving it? Well, that's fun but damnit, the car likes speed and you can't really drive it the way it wants to be driven on the public roads. Driving a 930 is sort of an exercise in frustration. Seems like everyone else is going soooooo slow and you can't pass 'em all. So, what have I got here? A car that's too tough for me to enjoy working on, that has a performance envelope only a looney would use on the road and that seems to aggravate fully 1/2 of the other drivers I encounter. They just can't allow a Porsche in front of them. I don't know why that is but if I had a dollar for every time I pulled out to pass some twirp and had him goose the hell out of his minivan, SUV or pickup truck, I would have enough for a new set of plugs for the 930.
Guess, I'll do what I suspect most 930/911 Turbo owners do, keep 'em in the garage and polish them a lot. Maybe use 'em for the occasional road trip. And as far as Porsches go, I am starting to feel sorta like Goldilocks- you know, the mamma bear's chair was too soft and the papa bear's chair was too hard. Maybe there's a Porsche model that's just right for me but I don't think I've found it yet.
I wonder what a Boxster S drives like?
July, 2001-A Bit More Tinkering and Another Encounter With the WSP
So here we are in July and I have put about 10K on the Turbo. Basicly, pretty trouble free miles. Changed the oil and filters(oil, air and fuel) and am letting it cool overnight so I can set the valves and pop in a new set of plugs($11.00 each, gulp). If I feel adventureous, I might attack the oil leak. I am not looking forward to changing plugs and setting the valves. This car is just miserable to maintain. I'll bet I work most of a day on those two projects.
Got pulled over by the WSP - AGAIN - the other day. I am going to really have to start watching that Turbo-it is going to get me into trouble-damn thing. No ticket again, just another lecture. But, you know, this guy made some sense. I was following some dawdler on Highway 16. You know how people like to sit in the fast lane and match their speed to the car in the slower lane. Well, this nit was doing that and, after following him for a few miles, I say an opening and WHIP!- I'm around him and back in the fast lane. Trouble is, I didn't signal lane changes.
The trooper pointed that out and said that was why he pulled me over. That plus about 15mph over. Any way, he said: "Don't let other drivers dictate how you drive." And, you know, he was right. I was being silly and allowed that fellow to influence my driving. Good point trooper. I am going to pay attention to that in the future. I think it's a particularly good piece of advice for Turbo owners. These things don't want to know under 60mph in top gear-so you really have to watch yourself. I suspect they also stick out like a sore thumb and act like a visual magnet for law enforcement.
September, 2001-Sort of a Conclusion
You know, I miss my little English cars. I was in my garage today and was looking at them all sleeping under their dust covers. Here's the deal, they are driveable on the streets and cute looking. They are easy to work on and(I think) enjoyable to repair. No, none of them('cept maybe the E-Type) have the performance envelope of even my SC and they are probably nowhere as reliable as either the SC or the 930 but that doesn't matter to me. You can zip 'em around on the street without terrifying yourself and, when they break, you can fix 'em without calling in a neurosurgeon. So, where am I now?
Well, I'll tell you-I'm looking at pictures of Lotus 23s again. What a neat little sports racing car that is. What a cutie. I've wanted one(or an Elva Mark 7) for years but this damn Porsche sickness has derailed me lately. I think you could drive a 23 on the street. However, I'm not making any firm plans yet since it's clear I have no self control when it comes to sports cars (of any marque).
June, 2004 A Lot of Water Has Gone Under The Bridge Since I Last Wrote
OK, let's get this right off my chest up front. I have used the Turbo as a daily driver since my last update. It has about 120,000 miles on it now. I'm still not sure I like it but, every morning when I stumble out of the house to go to work, that's what I jump in. I really don't understand this but, I have to say my Brit cars are looking a little neglected and I'm feeling ashamed about that. I think I am addicted to that Turbo boost. Yeah, I think that's it. Put your foot down going up a long steep hill and that car just feels like a 737 on takeoff. It's still clumsy in traffic and geared all wrong but, it has remained my ride of choice for a few years now. Get all sorts of admiring stares and gets me in all sorts of conversations with other car nuts. It's a keeper.
So, what's happened to it since I last reported? I finally broke down and had Monty reseal the engine. An engine out job to the tune of about $4K. A couple of years ago I noticed a clicking noise from the passenger side front of the car. Going over slight road surface imperfections at very slow speed resulted in an audible "click click-click click". Front end noises always get my attention so, underneath it I went. Couldn't find squat. Ball joint OK, ditto the bushings. No slop in the wheel bearings or tie rod ends either. Bilstein problems? Shouldn't be - had 'em replaced not too long ago. While I was pondering this, the clicking turned in to a clanking on the way to work one day. I need to get this thing up on a hoist now so, where the Hell do you go in Bremerton? No way am I driving the clanker out to Monty's in Redmond.
Some months prior to this I had visited a place called "MAXRPM" in Bremerton. Alex, the owner of the place hosted a Saturday event for the Porsche people. I wasn't real impressed, the event was some guy from Brembo talking about their braking systems. Alex had dragged in a couple of young girls who were dressed up in skintight short skirts and would sprawl on your car for picture taking purposes. There were a number of Porsches in attendance but most of MAXRPM seemed devoted to sportbikes. I did notice a red Turbo in the shop that I was advised was Alex's. Anyway, I thought I would give him a try. I'm glad I did.
I pulled into Alex's shop unannounced and we got the car straightaway on the lift. Now before Alex put the lift arms under the car, he went out back and sawed up a couple of wood blocks to put in between the arm and the car underbody. A nice touch. Well, Alex couldn't find anything wrong with the suspension either so, back off the lift and I did bouncing duty while Alex listened to the clank. He figures it has to be the Bilstein cartridge so, I ordered a pair from him. He pronounced it driveable and I got back on the road. A day or two later I took it back and, sure enough, it was that cartridge. There's a little split pin that locates the cartridge in the strut. This had sheared allowing the bottom of the cartridge to wallow around inside the strut. New cartridges and split pins and that's that.
Well not quite. I snooped around Alex's shop and was pretty impressed. The place is well equipped and clean. Looks like someone takes pride in the place. I also inspected Alex's Turbo. He's modifying the snot out of the thing and really doing some ambitious stuff. The quality of work he's done on his Turbo is impressive. I can deal with this guy. He's also a bit of a salesman. Before I knew it, he had sold me the B&B intercooler and the K 27 turbo he was stripping off his car. OK Alex. Slap 'em on mine. Well, a few grand went to Alex to pay for that impulse. The K27 does spool up a bit quicker than the stock turbo which makes the car a little more flexible but, if I had it to do again, I probably wouldn't.
Not much else to report other than I put a set of Bridgestone S-03's on the car and can highly recommend them. They cured the Turbo's tendency to follow the grooves in the road and stick like glue. I wound up joining Costco to get the best prices on the S-03's and have just finished cutting up my membership card and sending it back to them. I could rant about Costco for pages but nope, this is about cars not nitwit retailers. Alex is at me to do some more mods to the Turbo but I don't think so. It seems fine the way it is. I do like and trust Alex though. He's really a perfectionist and it shows in his work. He likes my Turbo too. Every so often I catch him looking at it with that goofy look a guy gets when his common sense gets trampled.
I know the Turbo is going to need major work in a while but that's OK, it's given me pretty reliable service for the last 50,000 miles and I don't know that you can expect much more than that. It's got a couple of quirks that will need seeing to. Occasionally, it's reluctant to start on a hot engine in hot weather. It's gotta be a fuel pressure issue and damn, here's a weird one; the damn thing squeaks just after starting from cold. Now I know this sounds silly but, I think the squeaking is coming from the oiling system. I can put my hand on the oil filter and feel it vibrating in time w/the squeak. Slightly before the squeaking started, I noticed oil temp lower than normal. I'm convinced something's up in the oiling system. Alex is poo-poohing the oil temp issue but I'm not sure. The Turbo is resting while I figure this all out and I am driving the SC.
The SC Revisited
This is really a driver's car. It's underpowered and the shifter occasionally seems disconnected from the transmission but it is fun to drive. Not ponderous like the Turbo but delightfully flingable. I have been driving this dude while my Turbo is "resting" and really enjoy it. The Turbo is great but, if I had to pick one, it would be the SC. Alex supercharges the 3.0 and 3.2 engines and gets about 300hp out of them. That WOULD be nice. I need to go talk to Alex about this. I may have to sneak in though. Last time I was there, I was babbling on about buying a Harley and Alex was giving me a funny look. His place is full of crotch rockets-lots of Ducatis, Suzukis and Kaws. Kind of a road racer sort of place and I sorta think he wanted to discourage me from a Harley but didn't. I'll have to own up to my lack of good taste and chug the Harley down there. Might as well. Can't hide from him forever.