TEMPUS FUGIT

Win­ter draws on – well, you need them when you don’t have a heater. Keith Seume tack­les the in­te­rior of El Chucho and then drops a bomb­shell about his longterm plans…

911 Porsche World - - Practical Porsche -

My, how time flies. It’s now been over two years since I put my 1966 912 through its first postre­build MOT, two years when I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced the highs and lows of Porsche own­er­ship – mainly highs, I’m pleased to say, al­though I’m sure reg­u­lar read­ers might have guessed oth­er­wise judg­ing from my past ram­blings. An en­gine re­build – al­beit a par­tial one – within the first 18 months wasn’t quite what I was ex­pect­ing, I must ad­mit.

Over­all, though, the car is be­hav­ing it­self, run­ning well and putting a smile on my face each time I ven­ture out. Un­less it’s cold, when I then freeze and curse the fool­ish­ness of run­ning a car in the UK with­out heat­ing. Or am I just get­ting old?

I re­cently made a change to the car which wasn’t the re­sult of some­thing break­ing or that I’d missed over­haul­ing dur­ing the re­build: I changed the seats. Up un­til now, I’d been run­ning a pair of Cor­beau Clas­sic bucket seats, which looked nice re­trimmed with their Cor­nish tar­tan in­serts, but were never quite as comfy as I’d hoped. It may be down to my shape (or lack of it) but the Cor­beaus didn’t re­ally of­fer enough lum­bar sup­port, and I also re­alised that I grad­u­ally slid down into the seats on a longer jour­ney. Sarah, my bet­ter half, also found them rather un­com­fort­able, so the search for re­place­ments was on.

What I was af­ter was pair of seats that could be re­clined, were nar­row enough to fit in a 911, gave de­cent lum­bar and side sup­port, have ‘clas­sic’ styling (by that I don’t mean old, but tra­di­tional), have level mount­ings un­der­neath (many seats have one run­ner higher than the other, mak­ing

fit­ment in an early Porsche a bit tricky) and be priced to fit my bud­get. The lat­ter pre­cluded lash­ing out on a pair of BF Torino or D’eser pe­riod-style seats, while the need to have tra­di­tional styling meant shying away from a lot of the seats that popped up when search­ing for ‘bucket seats’ on ebay.

An ob­vi­ous choice were the clas­sic Re­caro seats fit­ted to Fords and the like, but all the ex­am­ples I came across were torn, dirty and mis­shapen. Widen­ing the search along the lines of ‘clas­sic sports seats’ brought up an in­trigu­ing al­ter­na­tive, which I would never have thought of: MGF.

At first sight, the seats looked good, and they ap­peared to be nar­row enough to fit in a 911 or 912. An in­ternet search turned up a photo of the un­der­side of an MGF seat so I could see the run­ners, and that in turn led me to, of all things, a fo­rum about Mazda MX-5S where I found a photo of an MGF seat, up­side down, show­ing that all I’d need to do was trim off two small brack­ets to end up with a ‘flat’ base to work with.

But what were the seats like in terms of com­fort, as I’d never even sat in one? A few days later an MGF pulled up out­side my house, so I rushed out and, much to the sur­prise of the owner, asked if I could sit in his car! The seats felt good and were clearly nar­row enough to fit a 911, so the hunt was on.

Fol­low­ing a search on, you guessed it, ebay, I lo­cated a pair of leather and cloth seats for the princely sum of £180 (in­clud­ing de­liv­ery) from a spe­cial­ist MG dis­man­tler. They were in al­most per­fect con­di­tion, with no marks, no cig­a­rette burns and no split­ting seams. All I needed to do now was get the cen­tre pan­els with their Pirelli P7 tread pat­tern-in­spired ma­te­rial re­trimmed in some­thing to match the colour of the car.

More Cor­nish tar­tan was an­other ob­vi­ous choice but in­stead I spent quite a bit of time at the lo­cal up­hol­stery fab­ric shop in search of the ideal ma­te­rial, but still couldn’t find any­thing that ap­pealed (al­though I did rather like the cloth with the car­toon pen­guin prints…). A trip to a Euro­pean VW show turned up the per­fect an­swer: West­falia tar­tan, as used in the older Volk­swa­gen Campers. I bought a cou­ple of me­tres (far more than I’d need, but the price was right) and came home a happy man.

A lo­cal VW en­thu­si­ast friend, Lee Lid­stone, of­fered to re­trim the seats for me as part of her learn­ing process – she’s keen to hone her skills as an up­hol­sterer and I was happy to give her the chance. Dis­man­tling the seats showed how well made they are (I was ac­tu­ally quite sur­prised to see they were made in Eng­land, as a sticker on the un­der­side proudly pro­claimed), with Lee un­pick­ing the trim so that she could use the orig­i­nal pat­terned cen­tres as tem­plates for the new tar­tan ma­te­rial.

The only prob­lem that showed up was the mat­ter of the head­rests, which were im­pos­si­ble to strip of their ‘Pirelli’ cloth cov­er­ing as it was firmly glued in place. To solve that ‘prob­lem’, I pur­chased a pair of leather-trimmed MGF head­rests which sorted out the mat­ter in an in­stant. Over­all re­sult? A happy driver and passenger, and a smart look­ing in­te­rior!

There’s not a great deal else to re­port, re­ally. I had ace pin­striper Neil Mel­liard add a lit­tle ‘El Chucho’ mo­tif on the en­gine lid, for a bit of fun, and that’s about it. Oh, ex­cept for one lit­tle im­por­tant de­tail: I’ve de­cided to sell El Chucho. Yes, re­ally.

I’m some­body who, for the most part, en­joys the jour­ney as much as the des­ti­na­tion, and al­though the jour­ney has oc­ca­sion­ally been bumpy, it’s been fun – and the des­ti­na­tion is def­i­nitely one to savour. But af­ter five years of project, it’s time for me to move on to some­thing else – to what, I’m not 100 per cent sure, but you’ll be the first to know.

In the mean­time, if you have an itch to own a 1965-build SWB hot-rod, then get in touch with Adrian Craw­ford at Wil­liams-Craw­ford. He’ll help you scratch that itch…

It’s been a fun ride, but now it’s time for a change. Not sure what yet, but there is one Porsche itch I need to scratch… Watch this space

Le­gendary pin­striper Neil Mel­liard added a fi­nal de­tail to El Chucho in the form of a ‘mon­grel’ mo­tif and some match­ing script

Above: Re­place­ment seats have a tra­di­tional look to them, which is what I wanted. They were re­trimmed by a friend us­ing West­falia cloth to go along with the orig­i­nal leather. Seat mounts were sourced through DDK

Seats look good and are very com­fort­able as well as be­ing sup­port­ive. The car is now re­sid­ing at Wil­liams-craw­ford at Sal­tash, near Ply­mouth – in­ter­ested par­ties give them a call

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