THERE AND BACK 52

This 911T went from stock to out­law and then all the way back again

Classic Porsche - - Contents - Words & Pho­tos: Kristina Cilia

Tempted into Porsche own­er­ship af­ter watch­ing a TV crime drama, Cal­i­for­nia na­tive Bob Beach ul­ti­mately found him­self the cus­to­dian of a 1972 911T. He re­stored it him­self, first as an ʻout­lawʼ and then, sev­eral years later, back to stock. It was quite a jour­ney…

In­spi­ra­tion comes in many forms, but for one Porsche owner it was Hol­ly­wood that played a key role in his en­thu­si­asm for the brand and sparked a 20-year DIY jour­ney. This started with the pur­chase of a 1972 911T which turned into the ul­ti­mate pro­ject, go­ing from orig­i­nal to out­law and back again. The 1980s marked an era of change and the world was evolv­ing. Amer­ica was learn­ing Reaganomics, the UK had a fe­male Prime Min­is­ter and Com­mu­nism was col­laps­ing. Kids clam­bered for new elec­tronic games and flocked to the ar­cade to play Pac-man while oth­ers fid­dled with a Ru­bikʼs Cube or lis­tened to their Walk­man. The me­dia could now re­port world­wide events 24/7 on CNN, while reg­u­lar sched­uled tele­vi­sion pro­grammes were just as much about the cars as they were the stars, with pop­u­lar shows like Dukes of Haz­zard, Knight Rider and Mag­num PI.

Au­to­mo­bile man­u­fac­tur­ers were look­ing to­ward the fu­ture and in Septem­ber 1981 the Porsche 944 was launched at the Frank­furt mo­tor show. The 944 quickly made its way into film and was an in­stant Hol­ly­wood so­cialite ap­pear­ing in many tele­vi­sion shows and movies like ʻPretty in Pinkʼ.

If you were a young adult grow­ing up in the ʼ80s you just had to own a sports car. As a Cal­i­for­nia na­tive, Bob Beach was no dif­fer­ent, cruis­ing the streets of San Fran­cisco with the wind in his hair driv­ing his 1976 Tahiti Blue Tri­umph TR7. At the time, the TR7 was per­fect: he loved how the car cor­nered, and how easy it was to park in the city.

But all of that was about to change af­ter see­ing his fu­ture on tele­vi­sion one even­ing. He re­calls watch­ing one of those pop­u­lar ʼ80s crime dra­mas where a Porsche 944 was rac­ing along a coastal high­way (he laughs as he re­flects on this me­mory that kick-started his Porsche cu­rios­ity). Though he could­nʼt af­ford the 944 at the time, he started on his path to be­com­ing a Porsche en­thu­si­ast with the pur­chase of a 1980 Porsche 924. It was­nʼt un­til 1986 that Bob could get that 944 he once longed for. His de­sire for the Porsche mar­que had been awak­ened and since that ini­tial pur­chase, heʼs owned ap­prox­i­mately a dozen Porsches over a 30-plus year pe­riod.

How­ever, it was the 911 that would cap­ture his heart when he pur­chased a 1972 911T. This car would be the one he would keep in his col­lec­tion the long­est. He states that ʻOne of the rea­sons I kept this car so long was due to its ex­clu­sive­nessʼ. The 1972 911 was a one-year won­der that had the unique de­sign of the oil filler door in front of the right wheel well. Porsche had de­cided to move the oil tank fur­ther for­ward to help with the weight dis­tri­bu­tion, but this de­sign only lasted one year due to inat­ten­tive con­sumers and gas sta­tion attendants putting gas in the oil tank.

The pur­chase took place in 1998 when Bob had just sold his week­end driver, a 1979 911SC, and ac­quired this light

“IF YOU WERE A YOUNG ADULT GROW­ING UP IN THE 1980S, YOU JUST HAD TO OWN A SPORTS CAR…”

yel­low 1972 911T from a friend to take its place. He re­calls ʻIt was parked at his house for quite a while; it was a solid, run­ning car but a bit tiredʼ. On the drive home he had to pull the brake pedal up with his foot at ev­ery stop. The first item on the re­pair list was to re­build the bind­ing pedal clus­ter so he could have work­ing brakes!

The car was very orig­i­nal with the ex­cep­tion of the MFI sys­tem, that had been re­placed at some point with a set of We­ber 40 IDAS, and the front bumper which was re­placed with a glass­fi­bre Rs-style piece. Over the next cou­ple of years Bob just drove it as of­ten as he could. ʻThe pre­vi­ous owner had low­ered it and fit­ted some stiffer tor­sion bars. I re­ally liked how it han­dled and en­joyed driv­ing such a nim­ble car ʼ. Then in 2000, the Porsche got an ex­te­rior cos­metic restora­tion but since money was tight Bob did it him­self on a bud­get of just $800. He had taken some cour­ses in col­lege and learned how to weld, so he set out to re­pair a cou­ple of small rust spots.

With these im­per­fec­tions re­paired it was now time to ap­ply the paint. Al­though he knew how to weld, he had never painted a car be­fore, but that did­nʼt de­ter him. He con­verted his garage into a spray booth, then us­ing a hand-me-down spray gun from his dad and some sin­gle stage light yel­low paint, he gave the car a fresh coat of paint. Once the paint

was cured, it was time for re­assem­bly. The parts re­quired were rel­a­tively few since only some of the orig­i­nal trim was be­ing used and the bright­work was still in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion.

ʻFrom a short dis­tance, my car looked kind of new,ʼ Bob re­calls. ʻI did­nʼt know what I was do­ing at the time, so up close you could see a lot of orange peel in the paint.ʼ

At the same time he added rub­ber pull straps to the hood and the rear deck lid, and pur­posely left off the tor­sion bar cov­ers, wheel cen­ter caps and side trim. He was go­ing for the early ʻlightweightʼ look, sim­i­lar to the race cars of that era. To fin­ish it off, he went to a lo­cal sign shop and or­dered ʻPorscheʼ let­ter de­cals for the sides and rear of the car.

Pleased with his DIY makeover Bob con­tin­ued to en­joy driv­ing and main­tain­ing his air-cooled 911. But he wanted to keep go­ing in the di­rec­tion of con­vert­ing the car into a lightweight 911 with a min­i­mal­ist in­te­rior. How­ever, any­time he en­quired about hav­ing work done at a lo­cal shop, it was as if he had asked them to re­store the space shut­tle. Since the work he wanted to farm out was too ex­pen­sive, he kept to the DIY path. Of course it helped that he con­tin­ued to at­tend lo­cal Porsche events and shows, sur­round­ing him­self with the right peo­ple to en­gage with – like­minded Porsche-philes.

No­body likes to start over again, but in late 2003 thatʼs ex­actly what Bob was forced to do when he lost his job dur­ing a com­pany re­or­gan­i­sa­tion and sub­se­quent down­siz­ing. So, he went back to school and took sev­eral cour­ses at the lo­cal com­mu­nity col­lege. He started learn­ing the proper way to

“FROM A SHORT DIS­TANCE THE CAR LOOKED KIND OF NEW…”

re­pair dents and paint cars in the auto body and col­li­sion cour­ses he at­tended.

Learn­ing these skills gave him the op­por­tu­nity to get the job done the right way with­out tak­ing short cuts. How­ever, with­out a source of earned in­come, the 911 pro­ject would come to a halt. Most dreams for au­to­mo­tive hob­by­ists would have an un­happy end­ing at this point, but not for Bob. He re­turned to the work force in 2004, but for him the mo­not­o­nous and te­dious 9–5 daily grind was the mo­ti­va­tion to get back into the garage and fin­ish work­ing on the ʼ72 911, plus a few other projects that had been keep­ing it com­pany.

ʻEight hours a day I would think about my cars and what I was go­ing to com­plete on them when I came home from work,ʼ he re­calls The pas­sion was in­tense as his goals were writ­ten down on notepads dur­ing the in-be­tween mo­ments at work. He would also note which tools and parts he needed to com­plete each task and then spent his break times call­ing shops to ac­quire what he needed to get the job done.

Bobʼs wife was also in­flu­en­tial dur­ing this time as she would join him in the garage to as­sist in fix­ing or clean­ing parts of the car when­ever he needed some help. ʻIʼm ex­tremely lucky to have an un­der­stand­ing spouse!ʼ

“EIGHT HOURS A DAY I WOULD THINK ABOUT MY CARS…”

Fast for­ward to 2016 and, af­ter many years of en­joy­ment, the 911 was start­ing to look tired again and the val­ues of these early cars were sky­rock­et­ing. At that point Bob de­cided he wanted to bring the car back to its orig­i­nal state. For most peo­ple, the men­tion of the word restora­tion comes with a heart-stop­ping price tag, but not for Bob. Since time was no ob­ject, his only con­cern was to keep the bud­get within re­al­is­tic pro­por­tions. He started to dis­as­sem­ble the car, mount­ing the chas­sis on a ro­tis­serie stand to prep it for mi­nor body­work and paint once again.

This time there was no need to take short cuts, which made for a much bet­ter job where the whole process went more smoothly since he knew what he was do­ing. The in­te­rior work, mainly the seats and door cards, were farmed out to a lo­cal up­hol­stery shop to help com­plete the jour­ney back to orig­i­nal­ity. Last on the agenda, Bob set out to get all the me­chan­i­cals of the car sorted. This was more fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory to him as he grew up learn­ing to wrench on cars with his fa­ther, who was once a me­chanic in the Air Force and had taught him the ropes when it came to ser­vic­ing and re­pair­ing au­to­mo­biles. He tack­led the en­gine re­build him­self but en­listed the help of a friend to re­build the gear­box. With the orig­i­nal 2.4-litre en­gine and 915 transaxle sorted, the car was back in one piece and road­wor­thy once again.

The story now be­comes slightly bit­ter­sweet as this 911 restora­tion takes an un­ex­pected turn. With the prices of early air cooled 911s soar­ing and since tak­ing an early re­tire­ment, Bob is con­tem­plat­ing selling the car, but not be­fore ac­quir­ing an­other Porsche. Which model will it be? He is un­sure of that at this time, but one thing that he does know is that his Porsche jour­ney, in­spired by Hol­ly­wood, is­nʼt over yet.

Above: No more Rs-style front bumper and dummy oil cooler mount, the 911T now looks as it did when it left the dealer show­room

Be­low: Bob Beach (left) car­ried out the ma­jor­ity of the restora­tion work him­self in his garage, with the ex­cep­tion of the in­te­rior trim

Be­low: For a home-grown restora­tion, Bobʼs car is hard to beat. It goes to show what you can do when you put your mind to it…

Above left: In its ʻout­lawʼ in­car­na­tion, the 911T bore more than a hint of Car­rera RS, with the ex­cep­tion of the stock nar­row rear wingsAbove right: A proud Bob Beach poses with his first Porsche, a 1980 924

Above: ʻSu­gar scoopʼ head­lights were part of the orig­i­nal spec­i­fi­ca­tion, so Bob opted to re­tain them rather than swap­ping to Euro-spec head­light units Be­low left: When Bob ac­quired the car, it had lost its orig­i­nal fac­tory-fit­ted MFI in­duc­tion, a pair of We­bers tak­ing its place

Be­low right: The restora­tion be­came a fam­ily af­fair…

Be­low: Out on the open road once again, the re­stored 911T is a de­light to drive, but soar­ing val­ues of these early cars is prompt­ing Bob to con­sider selling it to make way for a new pro­ject

Above left: The 2.4-litre en­gine was re­built by Bob and is mated up to the orig­i­nal 915-series trans­mis­sion

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.