For­get the Porsche Cayenne; Paul Kramerʼs back­dated Car­rera shows you donʼt need an SUV for that all-sea­son, every-day Porsche ex­pe­ri­ence. Given the choice, we know which weʼd rather drive…

Classic Porsche - - Contents - Words: Alex Grant Pho­tos: Andy Tip­ping

Not every hot-rod Porsche looks like a race-track rene­gade…

Itʼs a sign of the times, but of the record 246,000 cars Porsche de­liv­ered glob­ally last year, two thirds were SUVS. That blend of badge ca­chet, fam­ily-car­ry­ing abil­ity and all-weather us­abil­ity found homes for twice as many Cayennes and three times as many Ma­cans as 911s. But Paul Kramer reck­ons you donʼt need an SUV to get a piece of that life­style – and heʼs right.

ʻIʼd see these old pic­tures of Ger­man or Swiss guys, who had one car and theyʼd do ev­ery­thing in it,ʼ he tells us. ʻTheyʼd be out do­ing hill­climbs or go­ing ski­ing in it on the week­ends, then driv­ing it to work dur­ing the week. Itʼs their Ma­can, in a way. And I fig­ured that clamp-it-on style would re­ally suit this car as soon as I saw it.ʼ

Tour­ing is some­thing the 911 was built for – there are plenty of high-mileage cars to prove it. And this car has done its fair share, even be­fore Paul took own­er­ship. Regis­tered in 1986, it started life as a red Car­rera 3.2, and passed into the hands of a Mary­land-based owner early in its life who drove it every day un­til he sold it in the early 2000s. It worked hard, but was well looked af­ter, the stack of re­ceipts from those early years hint­ing at around 300,000 miles of use. That and an un­usual, un­planned, chap­ter in its story.

ʻAt some point in the early Nineties, the car was hit ei­ther in the front or rear,ʼ says Paul. ʻThe owner must have re­ally loved the car, be­cause while it was get­ting fixed he de­cided to back­date it, which was kinda un­usual at that point be­cause he could have bought an early car for less. I guess he liked hav­ing the com­fort, power and torque of the later cars.ʼ

This would al­most have been fly­ing blind back in 1992. A process which would in­volve buy­ing an early chas­sis and trans­fer­ring bolt-on parts across to the later shell, in­clud­ing build­ing cus­tom wings us­ing sec­tions from both cars. No easy job at a time when, on the whole, it was more com­mon for own­ers to do ex­actly the op­po­site.

Paul would come across the car some years later, which is a plus point of his job. Co-run­ning Auto Ken­nel, a clas­sic car deal­er­ship in Or­ange County, he was con­tracted by its then San Diego-based owner to help sell it. Re­cent life had­nʼt been quite so sym­pa­thetic and, even by his ad­mis­sion, it was a ʻmish­mashʼ of parts; an RS replica com­plete with graph­ics and stag­gered Fuchs, its in­te­rior a mix of af­ter­mar­ket and dif­fer­ent era fac­tory parts. Paul could see a use for it closer to home.

ʻI made the mis­take of telling him I wanted the car for my­self,ʼ he laughs. ʻThe more I thought about it, and the

thou­sands of miles of vin­tage driv­ing we were do­ing, the more I re­alised this was per­fect. Heʼs pretty savvy, so the next thing I knew the price had gone up. I prob­a­bly over­paid by $5000 in the end.

ʻBut karma played a part. We were work­ing on the air con­di­tion­ing, and Iʼd taken the Fuchs off. They were 7s and 8s, painted yel­low on the side, re­ally cheesy, but I no­ticed they had July ʼ73 date stamps. I did­nʼt know they made 8inch Fuchs that early, so I called Har­vey Wei­d­man, whoʼs a guru of wheel restora­tion, and he said straight away that heʼd buy them. I did­nʼt want them, and sud­denly I felt ner­vous about bend­ing them. They sold within an hour on the Early S Regis­ter for $5000.ʼ

Paul had no plans to com­plete the Rs-in­spired makeover. Hav­ing tied up some of the me­chan­i­cal loose ends, he read­ied it for long-haul driv­ing with a rally-style over­haul; meshed head­lamps, spot­lights, mud­flaps and a mod­i­fied SC ex­haust to give it a sig­na­ture note. Within thick-side­walled Dun­lops, one of his cus­tomers built a set of 908-in­spired six­inch steel wheels to toughen it up.

Not a move he re­grets, but he ad­mits this caused some hes­i­ta­tion. ʻWhen I was putting the tyres on the steel wheels, I re­alised they weighed three times more than the Fuchs. They were an­chors. I was tak­ing the “sport” out of “sport pur­pose”, but I thought…screw it!ʼ

The more you talk to Paul, the more you re­alise just how much care has gone into every de­tail. Right down to the painstak­ing process of hunt­ing for the con­tents of the roofrack, and the 80-inch leather belt that holds it in place – hand-made at the Mex­i­can mar­ket on Olvera Street, LA – all picked out to add to that all-weather Alpine tour­ing flavour.

ʻI love roofracks, Iʼm a wagon guy so all our cars have them,ʼ he ex­plains. ʻIʼd seen a pic­ture of a Volk­swa­gen roofrack from the 1970s, and man­aged to find a guy in San Diego to cus­tom-make a sim­i­lar one for this car. I did­nʼt want to have to take it off to ac­cess the en­gine, and I told him to make the wood look as worn as pos­si­ble – or use re­claimed wood if needed. Itʼs all about the de­tails.ʼ

No sur­prise, then, that the in­te­rior is far from a mish­mash of parts these days. Itʼs a func­tional lay­out for tour­ing: a pair of checked seats and a Nardi wheel from his dadʼs old Mer­cedes, still marked by years of his wed­ding ring sweep­ing around the rim. A wood­worker by trade, Paulʼs dad fab­ri­cated a dash in­sert from a sin­gle piece of spal­tan maple, then

matched it to an ar­ti­fi­cially-aged 917-style wood gear­knob. Early S clocks are on the plans, but heʼs in no rush to have the car off the road for sev­eral months while theyʼre be­ing worked on. Af­ter all, this was­nʼt built to be laid up.

ʻIn the last four years weʼve done 45,000 miles in this car,ʼ he says. ʻIt used to feel like I had a dif­fer­ent car for every event, but this has been to Mex­ico four times, to Texas, to Emory in Reno. My dad bor­rows it if Iʼm ser­vic­ing his car. Iʼve driven so many hot-rod cars and itʼs re­ally hard to get right, be­cause you end up chas­ing stuff and break­ing it. But Iʼm a big fan of the way this drives, and itʼs never left me stranded on the side of the road.ʼ

In part, thatʼs be­cause itʼs metic­u­lously main­tained. The driv­e­train is as it was back in 1986; a stock 3.2-litre Car­rera mo­tor, paired with re­newed fac­tory sus­pen­sion, brakes and the orig­i­nal 915 gear­box. And, while the re­ceipts show itʼs had valve guides at some point, all of those 300,000 miles have been done with­out a full re­build. Porsche built the 911 tough – and this one has no plans to re­tire.

ʻIt does­nʼt leak a drop. Weʼve talked about whether to do the mo­tor, but when we speak to the me­chanic he says heʼd hate to open a mo­tor that does­nʼt leak. The ʼbox weʼre on the verge of re­build­ing, be­cause there has­nʼt been first gear syn­chro since I got it, and third gear is go­ing, too. But Iʼve never had to put a new clutch in a 911 – Iʼm sym­pa­thetic with how I shift, be­cause it does­nʼt make it any faster.”

Porsche might seem like a brand changed be­yond recog­ni­tion these days, but the blood­line into those first 356 pro­to­types turn­ing 70 this year is easy enough to trace. All­weather Porsche tour­ing takes many shapes – but weʼll take this one, if you donʼt mind. CP


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