THE MID­DLE WAY

Fall­ing be­tween the T and S in the 911 line-up, the 911E may be the best of all

Classic Porsche - - Contents - Words: Kieron Fen­nelly Photos: Antony Fraser

Over the years, Ox­ford­shire-based Tuthill has be­come very much a spe­cial­ist in pre-im­pact bumper 911s and usu­ally the staff can quickly dis­tin­guish the wheat from the chaff. So when Vi­mal Ti­laka­pala pre­sented his 1973 2.4E for ser­vice and re­fur­bish­ment, the firm could im­me­di­ately see the po­ten­tial.

It was a slightly tatty dark blue, but what re­ally ap­pealed to Tuthill was that the owner had bought it to use reg­u­larly and wanted to be able to con­tinue do­ing so. Many ground-up restora­tions sim­ply end up shut away in stor­age af­ter­wards, emerg­ing only oc­ca­sion­ally, if at all. This 2.4E was not to be a con­cours project, but des­tined for reg­u­lar use – just as Porsche in­tended.

Owner Vi­mal has been a 911 fan for twenty years: ʻI bought a 996 when they were new and owned a se­ries of 996s and 997s: I re­ally got into them and traded them in ev­ery two years to en­joy the next phase. Fi­nally I had the 997 Turbo, but by then my first child had been born, so I was­nʼt get­ting enough use out of what was a mar­vel­lous car. I sold it and be­gan to look around for an older 911 – one I had­nʼt ex­pe­ri­enced – for oc­ca­sional use.”

He came across a 3.2 coupé: ʻI had al­ways ad­mired the air-cooled cars and, when I saw this one, I fell in love with it. Itʼs the me­chan­i­cal interaction, the noise, the ar­chaic switchgear of the older 911s that is ir­re­sistible, though – it took me a cold win­ter be­fore un­der­stand­ing how to op­er­ate the heat­ing prop­erly! Af­ter driv­ing mod­ern 911s, I was also fas­ci­nated to dis­cover what an ear­lier 911 was like, to see where the think­ing came from.ʼ So en­am­oured of air-cooled 911s was he that he sought out a 993 for his sta­ble, as well.

Vi­mal now be­gan to think in terms of a much ear­lier 911 and one he would use reg­u­larly. Af­ter a long search he found a blue 2.4 911E in Scot­land which seemed to fit the bill. Bod­ily it was not per­fect, but it was a match­ing num­bers car with a trace­able lin­eage, its sev­enth owner Mike Burtwhis­tle hav­ing owned it from 1987 to 1998, be­fore buy­ing it back from its eighth owner in 2012. Burtwhis­tle then had the en­gine re­built by a known mar­que spe­cial­ist as part of a planned restora­tion.

ʻI man­aged to per­suade him to sell it to me and spent two days driv­ing it back to Lon­don. I en­vis­aged us­ing this 2.4 as my daily com­mute across Lon­don and in­deed for a cou­ple of years I did just that. It was an old Porsche and, as it was far

from pris­tine, I did­nʼt re­gard it as spe­cial or rare, but I be­gan to feel it would be worth spend­ing some money on it to keep it go­ing re­li­ably. The his­tory showed that the car had orig­i­nally been metal­lic green, and I de­cided to re­store that colour es­pe­cially as the ex­ist­ing Al­bert Blue paint, a re­spray which dated from 2010, had been badly done.ʼ

Vi­mal took his 2.4 to Tuthillʼs Ox­ford­shire premises at the be­gin­ning of what would turn out to be a longer project than he orig­i­nally imag­ined be­cause, as the worked pro­gressed, he de­cided to do more and more work to re­fur­bish an al­ready em­i­nently us­able 911. Paul Green of Tuthill takes up the story:

ʻVi­mal wanted to re­store the orig­i­nal metal­lic green which I thought was a par­tic­u­larly suc­cess­ful colour which did mean, though, a cer­tain amount of dis­man­tling. As we stripped the ʼshell there was ev­i­dence of patch­ing which clearly had been done many years be­fore to pass the MOT. In fact the ex­tent of any cor­ro­sion we found was not se­ri­ous and the metal was quite strong, if un­even-look­ing, though in a part of the car where it would al­ways be com­pletely hid­den.ʼ

How­ever, on see­ing this Vi­mal de­cided that he would have new metal fit­ted. So Tuthill car­ried out sig­nif­i­cant work, fit­ting new floors, in­ner and outer sills, both A-posts and the pas­sen­ger seat well, though none of these strictly needed re­place­ment. Var­i­ous body pan­els were changed, too, al­though as a mat­ter of prin­ci­ple, Tuthill al­ways en­deav­ours to re­tain as much as pos­si­ble of a car ʼs orig­i­nal­ity. The rear wings were left in situ, though Paul sus­pects these were not orig­i­nal. Pan­els of­ten present a dif­fi­culty, he says. ʻTo­day you can ob­tain good qual­ity re­place­ments and it is more cost ef­fec­tive in terms of sav­ing labour to fit these in­stead of patch­ing, though we try to guide the cus­tomer, given the

“I DIDN’T RE­GARD IT AS SPE­CIAL OR RARE…”

value of the car, whether to re­tain orig­i­nal metal or re­place it.ʼ

Vi­mal steadily be­came more am­bi­tious. He opted, for ex­am­ple, for a new wiring loom and a new wind­screen when both the ex­ist­ing items were en­tirely ser­vi­ca­ble. That said, new wires and new glass ob­vi­ously look nicer with shiny new paint than the orig­i­nals. The re­place­ment loom came from Dutch sup­plier Kroon; a de­ci­sion to re­place the rear screen as well al­lowed a work­ing screen de­froster to be in­cor­po­rated, the old one ev­i­dently hav­ing ex­pired at some time in the past.

ʻFit­ting a new wind­screen al­lowed us to re­in­stall the cor­rect rear view mir­ror,ʼ ob­serves Paul. On the other hand, both par­ties agreed that the Fuchs wheels which had un­der­gone a com­pe­tent re­fur­bish­ment at some point re­quired no at­ten­tion.

For the cabin, the 2.4 E has re­ceived a se­lec­tive re­newal pro­gramme. The sports seats have been re­uphostered by a spe­cial­ist who also fit­ted new car­pets and Tuthill re­placed the head­lin­ing; the dash and in­stru­ments, as well as the steer­ing wheel, stalks and con­trols, are all orig­i­nal and the dash top, though not per­fect, was good enough to leave – Vi­mal was clear that he did not want an over-re­stored car as so of­ten hap­pens. By the same mea­sure, the door fur­ni­ture is all orig­i­nal, but the in­ter­nal latch mech­a­nisms have ev­i­dently had a ʻsee­ing toʼ be­cause there is none of the sog­gi­ness that can make it a fid­dle to open an older 911sʼ doors from the in­side. Tuthill sourced the cor­rect cov­ers for the in­er­tia reel seat belts and ad­vised Vi­mal to opt for the ʻmod­ernʼ ver­sion of the Blaupunkt Frank­furt ra­dio, which ex­actly repli­cates the orig­i­nal yet has Blue­tooth and other con­nec­tiv­ity.

Me­chan­i­cally, at first sight there did not ap­pear to be a great deal to do on a 911, which had re­cently un­der­gone a ma­jor overhaul and which was run­ning well. How­ever, when ex­am­in­ing the oil at the out­set, Tuthill dis­cerned signs of bear­ing swarf, which meant that, at some point, and prob­a­bly sooner rather than later, the en­gine would have to be stripped: ʻI ad­mit this was a bit of a blow, but I did­nʼt want to risk a sus­pect en­gine, re­cent re­build or not. This is not just my ev­ery­day 911, but one I in­tend to keep for ever,ʼ ob­serves Vi­mal.

As a mat­ter of course, new brake discs and pads were fit­ted all round, and re­place­ment wheel bear­ings and new track­rod ends tight­ened up the steer­ing of a car that al­ready han­dled cor­rectly.

Af­ter the find­ings of oil anal­y­sis, the en­gine was re­built anew, though once again reusing as many parts as pos­si­ble. Dis­man­tling re­vealed that the 2.4 had ʻSʼ cams and a bore of 85mm rather than the stan­dard 84mm, rais­ing its cu­bic ca­pac­ity to 2397cc. Ac­cord­ing to Paul Green, this kind of af­ter­mar­ket mod­i­fi­ca­tion is not un­com­mon and nei­ther is the com­pres­sion ra­tio on this en­gine, which was mea­sured at 10.7:1, rather higher than the stock 2.4 911Eʼs 8.1:1.

Tuthill uses race valve springs and ARP rod bolts sys­tem­at­i­cally in its re­builds: long competition ex­pe­ri­ence with these com­po­nents has proved that they are more ro­bust than the stock Porsche items. The stan­dard ex­haust and si­lencer were again in good con­di­tion so left un­touched, the si­lencer sim­ply re­freshed with a coat of paint. And while the stan­dard 915-se­ries fivespeed transaxle was in a dis­man­tled state, in the in­ter­est of longevity Tuthill fit­ted a new crown wheel and pin­ion.

On the road this 2.4 E is a model of smooth­ness. Its will­ing­ness, that dis­tinctly 911 keen-ness to get on with it, is to be ex­pected; more sur­pris­ing is this 2.4 Eʼs tractabil­ity: if you in­sist, it will even pull from 1700rpm on a soft throt­tle open­ing, though this is hardly the forté of the flat-six.

That is at the other end of the rev range and this 2.4 does not dis­ap­point, rush­ing once fully warmed up to its red line in the in­ter­me­di­ate gears. Here in its first in­car­na­tion, the 915 gear­box is a de­light to use and a ma­jor fac­tor in the plea­sure of driv­ing this 2.4.

Ride, too, is im­pres­sive: on its fac­tory sus­pen­sion and stan­dard 185/70-pro­file tyres, the 2.4 proves re­mark­ably comfortable. Driver and pas­sen­ger are well in­su­lated from the rough­ness of the edges of some of these Ox­ford­shire lanes and the 911 feels well damped; the steer­ing is light and re­spon­sive and its feedback and

“ON THE ROAD, THE 911E IS A MODEL OF SMOOTH­NESS…”

the acute con­nec­tion the driver feels with the road are a large part of what makes these early 911s so ex­hil­a­rat­ing. It is easy to see why, passé paint­work aside, this 2.4 ap­pealed so strongly to Vi­mal. In­deed, so pow­er­ful were his with­drawal symp­toms on hav­ing to give the car up to Tuthill, that he pur­chased a 2.2 911S, which he now en­joys for high days and hol­i­days!

ʻTuthill helped me find it – itʼs a com­pletely re­stored car and quite lovely, though in con­trast to the 2.4 E it is ex­tremely revvy, a very dif­fer­ent 911. My E is much torquier and quite beau­ti­ful to drive, so more prac­ti­cal in Lon­don traf­fic on my com­mute, which can take 40 min­utes.ʼ

Clearly for Vi­mal the jour­ney has be­come as im­por­tant, if not more so than the des­ti­na­tion: ʻPorsches are al­ways very spe­cial. Itʼs very dis­tinc­tive, an emo­tional con­nec­tion on a cer­tain level.ʼ CP

Below left: Porsche had plenty to shout about by the time the 2.4 911 ar­rived…

Above: In­te­rior trim, com­plete with de­sir­able sports seats, re­quired the at­ten­tion of a lo­cal trim spe­cial­ist. The steer­ing wheel, gauges and dash­top, though, re­main un­touched

Right: Such an iconic sight – a 911 with the tail squat­ting hard while ac­cel­er­at­ing out of a favourite cor­ner

Itʼs hard to imag­ine any­thing more re­ward­ing than tak­ing to the by­ways of Ox­ford­shire in a clas­sic Porsche – es­pe­cially one as strik­ing as this 911E

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