I've been lurking here for a while, and recently became active as I am finally getting my project running and street legal. But, I am getting ahead of myself... sit back and get comfortable, this is a long, hopefully not-too-boring, story.
I've been a 914 owner since 1987, back when mail-order was a telephone and paper-based process and finding parts meant buying magazines (European Car, formerly VWPorsche, formerly HOT VWs), getting parts catalogues (Performance Products, Automotion, Beach Boys Racing, the list goes on), going to junk yards, car clubs and swap meets.
Anyway, my first 914 was a silver 1970 1.7l gem, with less than 50k miles on the clock. Didn't run, and had been sitting a while, but the interior was perfect. Cost: $500. So, I towed it home. As I started dismantling, the carpenter ant nest behind the firewall sound deadening should have been a clue, but I was undeterred. I rebuilt the motor (1.9l, street cam, dual Webers), then turned my attention to prepping the body... strangely, I could easily push the car forward but only a short distance in reverse. Hmmm, I wonder why the RR wheel defects out like that rolling in reverse. "Hell hole" had yet to been coined, as I remember. Damn.
Graduated college in '88 and set off on a cross-country adventure in my '72 VW camper (non-pop-up version) to see the sights and visit my best friend, who had moved to Huntington Beach... and look for a rust free California 914 shell to go with my otherwise perfect, low-mileage 1970 parts & pieces. Werner's garage in Sunset Beach had a '72 shell taking up space and was willing to part with it for $200. SOLD.
Bought a tow bar and we headed back east, 914 on 4 wheels behind the poor old VW. We almost made it out of California that first day. Sadly, we blew a head on the VW outside of Barstow, CA. Limped into town and called it a night. As it so happens, there was (is?) a VW speed shop in Barstow. The owner took pity on us poor kids and got us a new head for $250 in only 2 days. A smokin' deal for the rare VW 2.0l heads at the time. With our paltry collection of tools, we preceded to replace the head in the parking lot of a 24-hour diner.. it might have been a Denny's.. so long ago. Don't believe the book when it says the engine has to come out replace the head. Simply not true. Got it running, bought a case of oil and we were on our way. Couple of mishaps (flat tire on the 914, no spare; hood tie down failure), but nothing catastrophic. The VW made it all the way back to NY, incl a stop to camping on the Outer Banks in S Carolina.
Stripped the car and sent it out to be sandblasted & painted. Rust-free is a relative term. My CA shell was certainly more rust-free than my '70, and the hell-hole was fine, but it need a bunch of new metal here & there.
Got it back from the body shop and started to put it all together. By this time, I had stared a job, and finally had a little more money, but not as much time.
And this is where it (by which, I mean "life") gets.... complicated.
You see my girlfriend, who had come to visit me in CA in middle of my adventure, had her status elevated to fiancé, which meant less money AND less time for the 914 - but I didn't give up.
In 1990, we got married and bought a tiny house in Beacon, NY (fixer-upper project, of course). 914 is parked at my folks house, not too far away, but the priority list is long and getting longer and "car project" isn't making the top ten. But, I didn't give up.
My daughter arrives in 1994, and in 1995 we sign up for a 4-year ex-pat assignment in Germany, where my son is born in 1996. Porsche was a client, and I was able to buy Porsche Classic OEM parts from the factory while I was there - woo hoo. Picked up euro front turn signals, Euro driving lights, official repair manuals (paper version, of course... what's a pdf?) and other fun stuff. I was collecting parts to finish when I got back home.
Back home, turned out to be Boston in 1999... sold house #1, bought house #2 (same size house, much bigger mortgage), then welcomed son #2 in 2002... which meant tiny house needed to be made bigger. 914 is safely stored at the folks garage in NY. Out of sight, but out of mind. I work on it very occasionally when we are visiting, but it's not moving up the to-do list.
I turned 40 in there somewhere and started on my OTHER dream to collect cars from my year, and welcomed a '64 VW Karmann Ghia Vert into the family. Kiddos are getting older and need cars of their own, so my daughter gets a $500 '90 Buick Reatta (basket case project, but a really cool car) to start her off, and a couple years later, my son gets an $800 '86 Porsche 944 (needs a clutch, torque tube, timing belts, etc., etc. but coughed up a rare turbo-s transmission, which I promptly sold for $1800! A rare win in the low price project car world, in which I reside). I have a $300 barn find '85 944 waiting for my youngest.
Up until now, with the exception of the paint job, I had done every single thing myself and was intent on finishing it. But, two high school graduations and one college graduation behind me, I finally realized THAT part of the dream needed to change. I sent it out to finish up the odds & ends, some critical (new brake lines, new fuel pump/lines, balance the carbs, rear shocks and springs were shot, various cables), some optional while-you're-at it upgrades (side shift trans, front sway bar), and I would do some of the easy assembly stuff.
This past weekend, a full 30 years(!) after starting on this project, I slapped on some spare plates and went on a not-quite-legal outing to meet the new cousin - my racing-buddy's recently acquired 914 LS3.
So, a belated thanks to everyone here for all info, answers, and motivation - I rarely have to ask anything, because it's pretty much all been asked & answered here before.
Also, I recently pulled the trigger on taking over for Capt Tripps on his Subie conversion, which will be restarting sometime soon. I don't have another 30 years, so this one is being outsourced from the start!
Let the madness continue...
Great story. I'm sure it will continue.
Best of luck.
Great story Tom; can't believe you bought that car in Sunset Beach from Werner. That's like 4 blocks from my home. Werner worked on both my -4 and -6: he also recommended I sell the -6. Werner retired but still active in Porsche events.
I too bought the -4 in Sunset Beach- a story too
Just what this place needs; another Masshole.
Welcome to the world. Great story
Great well written story, and now i feel like less of a slacker
Awesome story. I'm still a newbie here but
But you can't have the title of longest resto in the history of the world. I started mine in 1986 and am still probably a year away from taking it for a drive. But here's to shared determination and perseverance!
Well told. Amazing you were able to hold on to it through all those moves and life changes.
BTW: love the body color bumpers.
Great story and
How I identify with the early years prior to this and 914club websites. I do remember the years of Rod Simpson V8s conversion, VW-Porsche, etc. Living a couple of miles from the original Automation in Sunnyvale/Santa Clara did not help since I ended up visiting there on more than one occasion . By this time in the 80s I had built a rolling chassis into a V8 conversion. Those were the days!
Those were indeed the days, but the interwebs has made owning an old car so much easier... diagnosing, fixing, getting parts... no comparison. 914world rocks. Pelican is awesome for the 944's (and to a lesser degree 914's), the Samba and others. There's no going back.
I'll gladly relinquish the title and trophy to bbrock when he's done and posted the long and sordid tale for all to enjoy.
Hey, so where are all the teeners in MA.. never see them driving around anymore.
Tom (T for too)
HA! Mid-Engined Views!! I have a (dusty) collection of those.... uh... somewhere...
Mid-Engineering is Steve Martin's / Stevegm old business.
North shore, couple of us metro west, and a few in western Ma.
If Chris Foley does his annual/bi-annual BBQ in Hartford you should attend!
Nice! I'm in metro-west (Dover).
We're bring the 914 LS3 to Tangerine for a track-eligible cage install. BBQ in Hartford sounds good!
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