THE FINISHED ARTICLE
Knowing when to call time on a restoration project is crucial: a matter of personal taste possibly, funding more than likely, but most of all, retaining the car ʼs original character. This 2.2 T went as far as its owner felt was aesthetically correct
Knowing how far to take a restoration is a difficult decision…
Enough is enough! The bodyʼs done, the engine cleaned up, itʼs good for another 100,000 miles. But, hold on, how come the cabinʼs showing its age? Simple. Owner Anthony Edwards wished to retain a sense of the car ʼs history. You can easily over-restore 911s, taking away all traces of their past life. Sure, this 911T couldnʼt have survived without deep remedial action on its bodyshell, but there was nothing fundamentally wrong with its powertrain or cabin furniture. Best simply spruced up, as far as Anthony is concerned. That way you can still relate to the car ʼs character and the manner in which itʼs been used over time.
Anthony has the bare bones of a history. The 911Tʼs first owner was one Dennis Elsberry, who purchased it on 7th June 1970 from Gruber Porsche Audi, Inc., based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The last entry in his service book was dated 28th June 1974, and for twenty years between 1975 to 1996 it was placed in long-term storage. ʻBack then the car didnʼt have a massive value, probably had a few issues and needed a bit of money spending, so he just sent it off to storage and thatʼs where it stayed.ʼ
In June ʼ96 it was extracted from the warehouse and underwent unspecified ʻmajor mechanical repair ʼ, but it must have been pretty obvious that bodywork restoration was also required. Dennisʼs nephew expressed an interest in taking on the project, so the title was signed over to him. Mileage at that time was 99,699, getting close to a milestone number, which might have had some influence in his decision.
The provenance then goes cold again. ʻI donʼt know how long the nephew used the car or what he did with it,
but in the event, he decided to sell it. Iʼve no reason to believe it would ever have been out of the States at all.ʼ One way or another it travelled the length and breadth of the USA, though. Anthony again: ʻI bought the car at the end of 2013 from a company called Driversource in Houston, Texas, who specialise in European sportscars.
ʻThe previous owner before Driversource listed on the Certificate of Title issued earlier in 2013 was Gullwing Motorcars of Astoria, New York State. I bought it with a Porsche Certificate of Authenticity as a complete, matching-numbers car for restoration, and Schumacher Cargo shipped it over to the UK in early 2014.ʼ The odometer at this point recorded an ambiguous 600.
Anthonyʼs initial plan was to simply run the 2.2 T as found. Judging by the seller ʼs description it would benefit from a tidy-up, but it seemed as if it was, to all intents and purposes, a usable old 911. Like a longdistance love affair – or, more troubling, an on-line marriage bureau – buying sight unseen can backfire. One personʼs notion of serviceable can be at variance with the reality.
Anthonyʼs local specialists are SCS Porsche, located in the poetically-named Nagʼs Head Farm near Honiton, Devon, where techie Stuart Manvell took a long, hard look, and declared that a comprehensive bodywork job was necessary. ʻThe whole
“I BOUGHT IT AS A COMPLETE MATCHINGNUMBERS CAR…”
project escalatedʼ Stuart explains, ʻbecause the owner (Anthony) wasnʼt really aware of how bad the body was until we discovered that there were areas of the floorpan, especially the rear footwells, that were so corroded that you could actually see the road beneath. We couldnʼt even get it on the ramp when we first saw it.ʼ
Anthony takes up the story: ʻMike Humphries of SCS stripped the car in my barn in late summer 2014. All parts were boxed and labelled, and in the autumn of 2014 the bodyshell went to T&T Coachworks in Feniton, our local bodyshop, for the back-to-bare metal rebuild, and they sand blasted it, and then we realised there wasnʼt very much left of it at all. It was completely gutted, there was no floor, no chassis to speak of, really.ʼ As for the schedule, it was no overnight sensation: ʻIt re-emerged in autumn 2016, and rebuilding at SCS Porsche then started in earnest in autumn 2017 and was completed in early summer 2018.ʼ
The reparations to the shell were thorough: ʻThe floor has been totally replaced – though you would never know it, theyʼve done a really good job,ʼ applauds Stuart. In the first place it was stripped down by one of our lads, and ironically that was probably the most difficult aspect of the whole project. All the parts were boxed up and labelled, each little bag containing rusty nuts and bolts removed, and the rolling shell was sent off to our bodyshop people, T&T Coachworks. It was indeed in an atrocious condition.ʼ
Large quantities of corroded bodywork were removed, duly replaced with pieces of new steel, welded into the skeletal shell, including floorpan, inner and outer sills, kidney bowls, door-shuts, torsion-bar housings, A- and C-posts, and
wheelarches. A comprehensive metal makeover in other words. The repaired shell was then treated, primed and painted the correct Irish Green, a wonderful colour and a warmer hue than Oak and its ilk.
Many people consider the 2.2-litre flat-six to be the best of the smaller-bore screamers: it loves to rev, sounds wonderful and delivers admirable performance. Back in the mid-ʼ80s I put a deposit on one at Autofarm (when it was based at Amersham) and it would have been my first Porsche. Freshly painted body (Roman Purple) and rebuilt engine, it was an animal on my maiden test drive. But I got in a money muddle and walked away, though not without it making a strong impression on me as the archetypal six-pot snarler.
In the case of this 2.2 T, ʻThe engine was a bit of a mess,ʼ Stuart remembers. ʻExternally, I mean. All the crankcase castings and cooling fins were clogged up, and everywhere that muck and dirt could get trapped, it was full of it. I think things had been living in there for some time, what they call flora and fauna.
ʻAfter Iʼd finished it was a bit more like it should be, though it wasnʼt like a full rebuild, but all the gaskets are changed, all the exposed bits have been powder-coated, lots of bare metal parts have been anodised using chemical anodising kits, such as nuts and bolts and washers, so they have a gold-brass finish. You canʼt buy them like that anymore so a chemical kit is the way to go.ʼ
A lot of effort has gone into making it look as it would have done when it was brand new. Itʼs even got its original heat exchangers: ʻIʼve just cleaned them,ʼ says Stuart. ʻBasically, I was confronted with boxes of very rusty junk thatʼd been taken off, and we tried to re-use as many things as we could, so itʼs still the same car, rather than restored to within an inch of its life.
“IN THE CASE OF THIS 2.2, THE ENGINE WAS A BIT OF A MESS…”
There are some new things, obviously; the brakes are new, the shock absorbers are new, and a lot of it we cleaned, sand-blasted, powder-coated and treated so weʼd have as many original bits as possible but still make the car look like it would have done when brand new.ʼ Typically, it runs the same size wheels back and front, with the centres re-blacked and a polish up, and shod with Michelin MXV-P 185/14 90H tyres all round.
The 911 bodyshell was delivered back to SCS to be repatriated with its internals. ʻThere was no wiring loom, nothing at all, just completely bare metal,ʼ recalls Stuart. ʻI built it back up, starting with the wiring and the plumbing for the brakes; I just kept on building as much as possible, doing it in big chunks rather than trying to do little bits here and there, which doesnʼt really work very well.ʼ
New components included wheel bearings, ball joints, brake lines, ignition, brake calipers, with lower control arms sand-blasted and powder-coated. ʻI was just short of one door pin, and it hasnʼt got that yet, which makes it slightly difficult to close the door. The interior isnʼt immaculate but, by contrast, we have a 912 that comes in which has been totally redone inside – itʼs even the same colour on the outside – but it looks a bit odd, it looks a bit over-done, because itʼs like brand new, and you think, “Well, itʼs not new, itʼs a 1970 car,” and although you donʼt want it to look tatty itʼs got to have a bit of patina, whereas some cars look overdone, and that spoils the effect of it.
ʻSo, weʼve attended to as many of the visual bits as you can actually get away with, but still making it nice to look at. Now, itʼs mechanically exactly as it should be, top notch, and thatʼs a nice combination of new and retaining some of the old classic war wounds, which is exactly what the customer wanted, nice and reliable, the sort of thing you can just jump into and do some miles in, hopefully without any issues.ʼ
Anthony concurs. ʻI think itʼs all too easy to replace everything if youʼve got the money, but itʼs more important to retain the integrity of a project like this. The seats and the carpets have been part of the history of the car from the
beginning, and itʼs a pity to chuck all that out in the search for something that looks brand new. I like the originality of all the ingredients as much as the finished car. The Americans in particular tend to over-restore things so theyʼre more like what came out of the showroom; theyʼre almost too good.ʼ
Thereʼs a bit of personal history, too. ʻI used to have an impact bumper Carrera which I sold and, like everyone else, you want to replace it shortly afterwards. I thought, well, if Iʼm going to get another one Iʼm going to get a pre-ʼ74 car and this one just came up, and I have to say Driversource were fantastic. They normally sell really pristine examples, and this one they were obviously wanting to offload, so we had a good chat about it, and we did a deal. I didnʼt go and see it, but I wasnʼt disappointed when it arrived, and I think I was probably quite lucky.ʼ
For the driving experience, I take it a few Devonian country miles to the local deer park, aptly named the Deer Park Country House Hotel, where thereʼs a hospitable welcome and the bonus of a small collection of classic cars, including a 930 Turbo Cabriolet thatʼs housed in a speciallybuilt motor-house. The 911T is in fine company. Here, curator Stephen Poat also looks after a unique 1930s Chevrolet Universal Phaeton, a 1926 Rolls Royce with Mulliner body, a 1938 Packard sedan and a Jaguar XK150 that was the official 1958 press car.
I ease the 2.2 T around the park lanes. It may be a period piece, but the gear shift is absolutely precise, not one to be hurried, and everything including dog-leg first falls into place absolutely as it should, and the steering is agreeably precise during turn-in and cornering. Itʼs got its original radio, and the lattice-weave panel across the dash and in the seats and door cards, all patterned correctly, and the door bins operate properly, too.
I canʼt resist blipping the throttle, and there it is: that glorious six-cylinder shriek. Only a 2.2 can deliver that. Rebuild or not, you have to admire Anthony Edwardsʼ restraint. Of course, itʼs a precious thing in its own right, but itʼs not so done up to the nines that you darenʼt use it without kid gloves, nor wonder about the true identity of the car that youʼre having fun with.
As far as this Porsche fan is concerned itʼs about quitting time, knowing where to draw the line. Besides, youʼve always got something to look forward to, in this case a rebuild of that marvellous 2.2 engine sometime in the future… CP