Specifications 1985 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Coupe 3.2 litre air cooled horizontally opposed 6 cylinder – (California emissions spec) 200hp @5900rpm 5 speed manual transmission model ‘915’ 0–100km/h: 6.3 seconds Top Speed: 146mph Weight: 1260kg History Delivered to its first owner in Thousand Oaks, California, in 1985, this car served as a daily driver until 1991 before being sold to a Porsche Club America member in Bellevue, Washington with 70,000 miles on the clock. Over the next twenty years it was used sparingly, having a second owner in the Bellevue region before moving back to LA in September 2014. I purchased the car in January 2017. What was using a Carrera 3.2 like for this sort of trip? We did 5000 miles in the 911 in the three weeks we had it during the trip. The car was completely stock standard. Fuel economy was impressive with an overall average of 10.5L per 100km (27mpg), particularly considering we weighed in at a hefty 1590kg all told. The driving we did was mixed, including around town, on the freeways at speeds up to 80mph, and of course traversing as many twisty roads and mountain passes as we
two more heat cycles – before handing it over. But two weeks for an entire top end engine rebuild is pretty amazing, when you think about how many individual tasks are involved, especially with very short notice.
After being Porscheless all this time, Ross and I were itching to drive as many challenging roads as possible before we shipped the car home, and carefully planned our amended route with this in mind. Brimming the tank, we headed out through the double joy of a rainstorm and peak hour Friday afternoon traffic. With our newly rebuilt engine, we made sure to vary RPM and engine load to seat the rings fully. Checking
down to the 395, the route to Loopie, great but very busy with cyclists. Then Highway 108 over the Sonora Pass, the Tarmac tight and narrow but beautiful, winding all the way up to 9624ft and back down gain.
We had been monitoring the health of new front tyres fitted to the Porsche in Portland and now observed the inside shoulders scrubbing off noticeably. Exiting to Sonora for a quick wheel alignment check, more unexpected and concerning news emerged. The tie rod ends were worn and the wheel bearings loose (particularly the front right). The tyre shop judged there was no point trying to adjust the alignment in its current state and didn’t recommend driving all the way to LA.
Re-inspecting the bearings and tie rods closely ourselves, we found them maybe slightly loose but not too bad – the shop’s diagnosis seemed a little alarmist. Nonetheless we decided we had better do something about the front right bearing at least, as the penalty for failure can be extremely high. The bearings were not getting warm, a good sign, and we made it safely to the next auto parts shop – O’reilly’s in Oakdale. Again, the team at O’reilly’s were great; they sold me the tools I needed, a new set of wheel bearings and grease, and actively encouraged me to work in their car park as well as clean up afterwards in the staff bathroom. Out with the jack (which works really well – thanks, Porsche) and the car was in the air above the many oil stains bearing witness to previous car park maintenance efforts. Luckily, when removed, the bearings proved to be in good shape and with a regrease and adjustment behaved perfectly for the remainder of the trip.
The ensuing days saw us continue south from Monterey on the spectacular Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1). Traversing the rugged coastline around Big Sur we whizzed by stands of stately redwoods, along with what seemed like every convertible Mustang and Camaro rental car in the USA. At one point we spotted four identical bright yellow Camaros parked next to each other outside a single café.
The road opened up a little as we approached San Simeon, and we pulled off to make our final tourist visit – to the famed Hearst Castle, a lavish mansion poised on a hill and home to magnificent architecture, art collection and history. The castle was constructed as a retreat by multi-millionaire newspaperman and recluse William Randolph Hearst between 1919 and 1947, before opening to the public as a museum in 1958.
Throughout our holiday we had been looking for an opportunity to take some rolling shots of the Porsche from another car, but being without the 911 both times when staying with friends, we were almost ready to put it on a ship with the job not done. So I placed a post on Pelican Parts asking if any ‘Pelicans’ in the LA area could help us out, resulting in our meeting Jim and his Carrera 3.2 Targa at Griffith Park Observatory in the early evening. Jim popped the top out, and with Ross kneeling backwards in the passenger seat gripping roll bar and camera simultaneously, we dodged rental cars up and down the hill to get some spectacular shots. We rounded off our American experience appropriately by watching our first NFL game at a bar, followed by a final cruise down Mulholland Drive under the stars.
Receiving a warm welcome back at the CARS USA warehouse, from whence we had departed five weeks previously, we chatted about our trip…and the unexpected engine rebuild…then spent a couple of hours packing the 911 chock full of spare parts before dropping it off at the shipping yard for its final long journey back to Australia. PW
We rounded off with a final cruise down Mulholland Drive