Malcolm sent along a copy of part one of his article for TIPEC magazine so that 928.org.uk people could read it.
Why restore a Porsche 928 in your 40s ? Well from as long ago as I can remember cars were my thing and what made them work. One day when I was 14 we visited a family friend who I was told had lots of interesting little cars, hence the bribe to get a typical moody teenager to go somewhere he did not want to go with his parents, and then that’s when it happened. I got a glimpse of the make and model of car that was going to be my first real car.
No not a Porsche ! A little Fiat 500 and my father made the big mistake of saying if you can find one I will buy it for you to learn how cars work. Two days later I had found not one but two of them rusting away in a farmer’s field and from that day on I spent all my spare time restoring cars. It was a trial and error process with the little cars like breaking off manifold bolts and realising that was not the correct way to remove them. However after many years and many Fiat 500’s I restored one to as near perfection as I could. However with a young family that was the end of my restoration days or so I thought.
As my family grew up this saw me revisit my love of cars and all things mechanical. With very little persuasion from a relative I started autograss car racing. However after spending more time repairing the car after races I decided a change of direction was required.
I dreamed if money was no option what would be the ultimate car I would have to restore and that’s when it hit me: a Porsche ! The first and most iconic 911 came into my mind which sent me looking out “for sale” adds and very soon realising that my dream was shattered as I could not afford to even purchase one in poor condition for restoration, let alone restore it. As part of my job at the time I spent a lot of time in London on business and that’s when I discovered the 928 model with its V8 sound, imposing looks and a really 80’s super car feel which is the decade I am from.
After deciding on a 928 it was not long before a deal was done to buy one in Cornwall, advertised as a runner in need of restoration. That weekend, after an early start with a car trailer I became the proud owner of my first Porsche or so I thought. Once I had taken my rose tinted spectacles off I realised this car needed a lot of work and some new rear seats, front spoiler and other parts. So with this in mind I searched the “for sales” ads and auction sites again. However this time I was adamant I would view first !
Yet again I found another 928 but local to where I lived this time that sounded too good to be true. So this time I decided to call by on my way home from work one day without telling my wife, and to my amazement it was as per the ad and better than the one I already had in the garage at home ! After telling my wife that I only went to look at it for spares but was very unhappy as it was better than the one I had in the garage, she said “No, you can’t buy it; you already have one and you have nowhere to store another one”.
A week later and with my wife not speaking to me I had secured the purchase of the second 928 for less than the cost of the first one. I decided as it was on the car trailer anyway I would pop into my local garage on the way home from collecting it to see how badly it would fail a modern MOT after being off the road for several years. The MOT inspector and I could not believe how good the car was as it passed the MOT and even the emission test with flying colours. By this time it had created quite a bit of interest in the local garage on a Saturday morning with people asking me questions about the car. However they all looked bemused when I said I was going to take this car home now and take it to bits, restore it and I would be back in 3 years from now as I now knew the car was solid.
So the second 928 with a year’s MOT on now took pride of place in my garage with the first 928 purchased being relegated to a donor car and sat on the drive to my wife annoyance. The first and best decision after opening the bonnet on my restoration car and seeing the engine bay packed full of equipment, half of which I had never seen before was to photograph every part of the car, every part I removed on and off the car. I decided to strip all the trim and parts I could first without stopping the car from starting and running as my garage was so small the only way to open the car doors was to drive or push it outside on to the drive to work on.
Again like my first restoration I found I was learning about how the car was built and how it worked by taking it apart especially as I found out at an early stage there is no Haynes manual for the 928 and the only real manual I could find on line was one used by Porsche garages and their fully trained mechanics.
Each Saturday my father-in-law would arrive to help me discover more intimate areas of how the 928 was assembled and how we could remove each item in turn for restoration. We would photograph every item as we removed it, place it in a bag or box and label it with a description. However this worked well until every so often I would look round and ask what happened to that item we removed and my father- in- law would have decided it needed his restoration skills and placed it in his car to take home and work on.
During the deconstruction of the 928 I visited the Classic car show and met Paul Bird from TIPEC who also had a 928 and I joined the club there and then proclaiming my Porsche would be ready in just 3 years’ time. Paul asked me what colour I was going to repaint the car and I replied it was currently silver with full blue leather interior including a leather dash and that I was going to change it to red as all Porsche’s should be red or so I thought.
Luckily for me at this point Paul shared his concerns with me about my intended choice of colour as the interior was blue and suggested if it was as original, as I said it was, then I should consider keeping it as original as possible including the silver colour.
The weeks turned into months and then into years. However during this time I had not been just taking the car apart, I had also been contemplating and researching what work I was capable of undertaking on the restoration and what work was out of my scope and needed the help of a skilled person. The lucky break for me was when the same name kept coming up - Paul Anderson of Porsche 928 Spares in Stroud who people had used for everything from servicing right up to complete engine and car rebuilds. Also Porsche 928 spares was local to me which came in very useful one day when I started cleaning back the stone chip on the sills and found that the back quarter of the sills where it includes the wheel arch had totally rotted away and was only held together by the stonechip on the outside.
I set about trying to locate replacement sections for this area of the car but it soon became clear that either I would have to have them professionally manufactured out of flat sheet metal or find a donor car that I could cut them out of. My own donor car’s rear sills were just as bad and had already been bodged with flat sheet and filler and all 928’s seemed to have suffered the same fate. Finally I contacted Paul Anderson at Porsche 928 Spares and to my amazement he said he had a yard full of 928’s and one that he had recently purchased and taken the engine out of had good rear sills. However if I wanted them I would have to come and cut them out of the car in his yard. Early that Saturday saw the father- in- law and I leave home early armed with grinder, hammers, chisels and crowbar intent on me releasing these valuable parts for my car. The following weekends were spent taking a grinder (!) to my Porsche and slowly cutting out the sections and letting in the new panels.
Once the car was stripped down to a basic shell with only the dash and wiring left I then stripped all the wheel arches and the engine bay back to bare metal and prepared it ready for a full respray. I had thought long and hard about how I was going to refit the engine and all the running gear on to a nicely resprayed shell and move it about without scratching all the lovely new paintwork. I persuaded a friend of mine who had sprayed my fiat 500 many years ago to come and spray just the engine bay and the wheel arches in my garage, thus allowing me to refit the engine and running gear once ready with minimal risk as none of the body work was to be re spayed until these items were refurbished and refitted.
Once I had removed the engine from the car I then removed all the ancillary items from the engine leaving the bare block with head on ready for cleaning by hand as I wanted to ensure the block was returned to its original condition. All metal fuel lines, brackets, nuts and bolts that were originally finished in yellow passivate were sent away to a local plating company to be refinished as new. All other items were then cleaned and where required repainted to as new condition, then all parts including the engine were delivered to Paul Anderson in Stroud for inspection and reassembly. On inspection Paul found the engine to be in reasonable condition considering it had covered 140,000 miles since new, but suggested some items be replaced before reassembly including such items as new piston rings, head gasket, water pump, cam belts which I agreed to.
The day then arrived to collect my rebuilt engine from Paul with mixed emotions. Would it look as good as I had expected after all the pre-work my father- in- law and I had spent on it; would Paul have any nasty surprises for me !?
On arrival I could not see my engine anywhere in the work shop. However he then pulled a cover off an engine stand in the workshop and there it stood; the engine looked brand new with all its replated parts now assembled on the gleaming engine. The engine was then carefully loaded into my trailer and wrapped up in lots of old blankets like a new born baby coming home for the first time. The father-in-law and I discussed how we would fit the engine back into the car without damaging anything and how quick & easy it would be to finish the restoration now, or so we thought !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!