Back in July, I had the amazing fun of bringing three Porsches from very different vintages to an autocross in RI. It was a blast, to say the least. It was the maiden (race) voyage for the ’73 914 and the ’86 944. And I had no idea what to expect from them. I expected the 914 to be a handful. And it delivered on that promise! The 944 was actually more of an enigma, really. Having done a bit of mending of suspension bits, I already had an appreciation for the fact that this car was driven hard and put away wet for it’s prior lifetime. I knew I was getting into a project with this one, but little did I really know. Continue reading Porsche 944 – Race, Break, Repeat
When thinking of a fun car to drive on an autocross course, the answer always seems to be, “Miata.” And who would blame you for thinking so? A small roadster with front engine, rear-wheel-drive, great chassis. Not overwhelming power, but massive grins on any twisty road. So what could compete with it?
Not too much. But being a Porsche-phile, I thought I’d try to find something. Enter the Porsche 944. The new 2015 Miata has 155bhp. My 1986 944 has 160bhp. The Miata weighs about 2,600lbs. A 1986 944 weighs 2,850lbs. The 944 is front-engine and rear-transaxle for a perfect 50-50 weight distribution. Very much like the Miata. For me, the 944 has two minimal rear seats which means I may try to stuff a kid or two in there. Try that in your Miata. Continue reading When the Answer Isn’t Always Miata
The newest addition to the project garage is a 1973 Porsche 914 in signal orange, hence the name “Signal”. She is in good shape so most of our work will be minor updates and maintenance (hopefully). She is more of an “investment” than a project at the moment, so retaining and increasing value is the main goal. But enjoyment is also a form of value so she’ll certainly be driven as well, as Porsche’s should be.
Purchase date: 8/25/2014 – car, extra 1.7 motor, extra transmission for 1.7 (non-matching to motor), 2.7L 1976 911 6-cylinder (from a crashed 911 known by prior owner), fuchs wheels, steel rockers, flares, extra shifter, original steering wheel, mufflers, books, various other parts. And the fun begins…
- Cleaned up interior of car.
- Put vinyl conditioner on top, dash, seats. vacuumed front, rear, and interior.
- Noted later porsche floor mats on top of original looking mats.
- Found the fasten seat belt light cover under a floor mat.
- Driver rear half shaft boot at transmission is leaking.
- Gas pedal has quite a bit of travel before engaging.
- There is a loud squeak from rear brake calipers especially in reverse.
Transmission felt better on second road test but still grinds going into first and reverse at low speeds. Finding 2nd and 3rd is challenging. Downshifts are challenging as is rev matching. Tires are Doral (?) brand all seasons (probably garbage). Seals under the removable top and around windows are chewed up and will need replacement. Car would benefit from a fire extinguisher just in case. Need to get jack posts to work on car. Need engine stand for work on 6 and extra 4 cylinder motors. Will need to create space to store spare parts. Found dent in back bumper. Exhaust tips are very rusty and need either polish or re-chrome. Steering wheel is 10-15 minutes too far to left when car is pointed straight. Looks like a bigger master cylinder is a direct bolt-in and may provide more confidence with the brakes: http://www.pelicanparts.com/techarticles/914_replace_master_cylinder/914_replace_master_cylinder.htm
8/26/14 – Noticed that the driver front (pop-up) headlight is a bit lower than the surrounding bodywork. Wondered if its adjustable for height? The hood around it also appears to be a not-quite-perfect fit so that may not be helping things. I pulled off the steering wheel (27mm socket) and attempted to get it straightened out. Will have to road test it.
Researching how to polish up the chrome wheels a bit as there are some spots that could use some love. I tried my Noxon metal polish on the wheels and it was not doing much. I got out my electric polishing machine and tried some Griot’s Fine Hand Polish on the disc. Still didn’t do much. I got some interior panel removal tools (a hard plastic tool) and went to work scraping off the old adhesive bits where wheel weights used to be. It annoys me when shops put on new weights but don’t bother to remove the old black, nasty adhesive strips where the old ones were.
After much scraping, a little blowtorch action, and cursing, I found that brake cleaner did a fabulous job of removing the residue from the wheel weight adhesive. Then I did a quick search for how best to clean chrome. Turns out you just spritz with water and use a small square of aluminum foil to clean chrome. Oxidation from the chrome gets far more attracted to the aluminum so it cleans up the chrome chemically. And the aluminum oxide is the same stuff as in sandpaper, so a mild friction surface is created that helps to gently pollsh the metal as well. It worked very well and the wheels are starting to look great.
I tried to work on the exhaust tips a bit too. But they are very rusted and pitted so they shine a little more now, but still are a long way from perfect. The wheels would benefit from a coat of fresh black paint where they aren’t shiny chrome, but that’s a project for another day.
As I surveyed the hood, I noticed that one of the front plastic covers for the indicator lights was upside down. Two quick screws and that is sorted.
I took the car for a spin around the block to check my wheel alignment and its now just about perfect. I’m starting to get a hang of shifting a bit more. Down-left for first is crazy and hard to remember. And downshifting is really tricky since everything is in the wrong place. Heel/toe downshifts are very hard to execute. The brake pedal travel is so long and the brakes are so weak that I often find myself just concentrating on making sure the car stops. It seems that shifting takes a rather gentle and patient hand. The car doesn’t seem to love being above 4k rpm in first gear so the first-second switch comes early. But getting second is tough. Its to the right but not as far as I usually think. So I have to go back left a bit to get it into gear. By now I’ve lost lots of momentum. But I’m getting better. Second-third is a nice straight down movement. Fourth is fairly easy. And I don’t hit fifth around town much.
Fourth-second downshifts are common and not easy. Rev matching that little motor is going to have to come naturally. Fourth-third is still tough as I don’t want to hit first and often end up in fifth despite my best efforts. This may take time. But the car fires right up and runs pretty well. With the top open and the sound of the motor, I still haven’t even turned on the radio. I may never do so.
Low speed parking is challenging but not due to steering, which is pretty easy. Shifting again is the challenge. You need to rev the motor a touch to shift into first without grinding. Almost the opposite for reverse. Any gas and you’ll grind. Sometimes you’ll grind getting in anyway. You just have to be patient and be gentle with her.
The shop manual arrived today so I’ll see about sorting the headlight height and maybe the driver door height so it opens easier from the outside. I ordered some jack pads today so I can get her into the air and look around a bit more. She may need a bit of rustoleum here and there just to ward off the rust cancer as best we can.