If you like to wrench on cars, then you’ve probably at some point in your life owned a parts car. It’s usually a similar car to your baby in the garage but the parts car has somehow suffered in some way that has destined it to be a donor car so you get can your project up and running. As long as your spouse and neighbours are understanding, a parts car can be an excellent source of hard to find parts and hopefully help avoid the nickel-and-dimeing that so often derails a project.
A couple of years ago I decided it was time for a parts car. My car needed a bunch of small flippits and doo-dads that would have had me and my local Porsche parts guy pulling our hair out. Grommets, fine thread bolts, interior trim pieces, pulleys and the list goes on and on. I did what I normally do, fire up the computer, start browsing my favourite site…Kijiji and search: Porsche 944.
It didn’t take long to find what I was looking for. A 1985 ½ 944.2. Guards Red, like my car. Black interior, like my car. And an owner looking to sell, cheap.
One thing I love about buying vehicles is the stories I hear about behind the cars I look at. This particular car had a sad one. A gentleman had owned the car for some time and lovingly cared for it. It got all the love and attention it needed until the owner became sick and the car sat for many years.
Along the way one of his children tried to resurrect the old girl by giving it some new tires, fluids and brakes, and even some high performance brake pads in the form of Hawk HP+s. Sadly it was too late. The owner passed away and the car sat for quite a while. The car far from their thoughts. I don’t blame them.
The owner’s family were reluctantly selling the car but were moving and they wanted to sell it to a 944 enthusiast. I assured them that I was, and they were happy to hear, that the car’s spirit would live on. For a brief moment I even thought I might bring the car back to its former glory, but it had suffered crash damage and that part was too rusty to save. We agreed on a fair price and I called a tow truck to pick it up and take it to my house. The car had no keys, they had been lost a while back.
It wasn’t long in my driveway before I started to mess around with my new find. Once a new key was cut, I swapped in the battery from my car and wow, it fired right up. I even drove it around my street. The clutch was badly worn but it was still nice to go for one last drive around the block, it sure made me smile. I imagined the previous owner driving it, and loving it. I wondered if the car was worth saving but when I jacked it up on the driver’s front the jack went through the floor. The car’s fate was sealed.
I tore it down over the summer, selling a few parts here and there. That was great fun. Every week or so a new 944 owner would come by my house and we’d chat about our love for these cars. Some were just trying to keep their cars running while others were looking for that last elusive part for their concours car. We all shared a passion for the 944 and it was good, really good. This one car was becoming a part of so many other 944s; I hoped that would have made the previous owner happy.
My car benefited in a big way from that old car. A spare engine and transaxle, torque tube, new calipers and rotors. Too many flippits and doo-dads to count, even today. I converted my five-rib pullies for the crank and alternator to the six-rib ones from the parts car to improve my supercharger drive. My crawlspace is full of 944 parts. My wife is a little iffy about it, but every time I need something for my car and I go shopping in our crawlspace and emerge with what I need, I make a little “ka-ching “ noise and wink at her and she doesn’t mind it so much.
This probably won’t be the last parts car I own. I enjoy the whole process far too much to not buy another one. I search the classifieds almost daily looking for another donor for my baby. Maybe a Turbo S or an S2 for some bigger brakes and even more horsepower.
So don’t be afraid to go looking for your own parts car; you never know what kind of experience it may bring!