You Know You’re a Car Enthusiast When… 2012

By Otto Mittelstaedt

As a teenager in the 60s, before I got my driver’s licence, I was not a Porsche enthusiast. I was more interested in E-Types and muscle cars.  In 1968, my father bought the family a new VW Squareback (when did you last see one of these?) and he handed me down his 59 Beetle. It had all of 36 HP. I was the first of my friends to have a car, so I wasn’t about to complain, but I did wish it had a bit more oomph.  It didn’t take long to realize that more urge was possible in the form of a 356 Porsche motor that would bolt right in.  But how to get one? The answer came by way of a front-end wrecked 356SC on Barton St in Hamilton. With a little detective work, I tracked down the owner. He was willing to sell the car, but he wanted $600. He might as well had asked for a million. At the time, I was putting gas into the tank in twenty-five cent (half a gallon) increments. I drove by that Porsche for 6 months before it finally disappeared.The thought of buying a wreck and stripping it for parts has intrigued me since.

Fast forward some 40+ years. I had bought a 914 with the thought of converting it to a six. After calling a couple of used parts suppliers, I realized that a 914-6 conversion was going to be a lot more costly than I had counted on. Buying a complete 911 might be the cheapest way to get the required components. I also had a 911 Targa that I owned for 20 plus years. Near to the time I bought the car, I came across an offiicial Porsche guide to converting an 81+ Targa into a cabriolet, factory style. The procedure looked relatively easy. If one had a used complete top, this might make a nice project.  A wrecked cab would really be the ticket!

Bargains are sometimes out there in the form of parts being sold by private sellers, so I often look look to Kijijii, Ebay and our own UCR website.  One day, there it was! A wrecker was selling a totalled 911 Cab for a reasonable price. I immediately jumped into the beater and drove out there. The car had everything I wanted for the 914, and what looked like a new, serviceable top. To do a factory style cab conversion requires a hell of a lot of components other than just the top – different carpets and side panels, back panel, shorter jump seats, seat belt mounts, brackets, etc – even a different rear motor mount. To do a decent 914-6 conversion also requires a lot of components too – steering column, ignition lock, tach, wiring harnesses, fuel pump,  front struts, spindles, brake rotors and calipers – and of course, a flat six, air cooled motor. And here it was, all the parts I needed for two projects in one package. The car even had the later Carrera style front oil cooler with fan and a set of 7.5 and 9 by 17 cup wheels ( 95 date stamp ). Bonus!  As far as anyone knew, no-one had been killed in the crash, so I determined to buy it. They wouldn’t negotiate, but they did agree to  dump it into my driveway, and pick it up after I took what I wanted, for no extra cost.A few days later, they dropped it off. It really looked bad. Almost every panel on the car was distorted. As it sat on a flatbed in front of my house, the driver of a BMW that passed was so shocked by the appearance of such a wreck in my snobby subdivision that he almost crashed. I then realized that my neighbours ( not to mention my wife! ) might not be as enthusiastic about the wreck as I. As soon as it was in the drive, I put a cover on it, and hid it as well as I could with garbage and recycling bins. The last thing I needed was to have by-law enforcement  come by and fine me.

If I lived out in the country, I could have systematically taken the car apart, and harvested many more parts than I did. I never removed the cover to reveal the whole car, and I basically butchered it at the maximum possible speed. When the driver came back to pick up the hulk, I was still taking stuff off.   I had a blast taking the car apart, though. I thought I knew a lot about air cooled 911’s. I now know a lot more and in addition have more 911 parts than I know what to do with. And nobody said anything.

You know you are a car nut, when  one of the items in your “bucket list” is buying a wrecked 911.

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