Oxford, UK @ginapurcell1
Model 911 SC Year 1982 Acquired April 2014
A mix of circumstance and design has dictated that the only manual shifting I do now is with Steffi the SC’S trusty 915. Day-to-day stuff is handled by my V8 Audi with its Tiptronic ‘box and flappy paddles.
I love the exposure to both devices, for each is the other’s foil, but the 915 will be my last ever manual. In the not-too-distant future, my next automotive purchase won’t have a traditional gearbox at all, so preservation and enjoyment of my
915 is paramount.
Steffi had her gearbox replaced after eight years and 80,000 miles. The first owner lived and worked in London for an aviation company and the second commuted into central London as co-owner of a prominent 1980s PR firm. I can imagine Steffi as a yuppie’s plaything in those far-off, glittering, visceral days that echoed to the rustle of big money and a backbeat provided by Ultravox, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Wham et al. I also imagine her crawling through heavy London traffic, suffering the pain of eight years’ worth of wear on a cold drivetrain.
PR man picked up a £3k bill for the new gearbox in 1990 and sold her on as the recession bit. 135,000 miles and 28 years’ music and fashion later the signs of wear are coming through once more in my 915’s ‘ironic’ gearchange. She sometimes needs the clutch pedal pumped once or twice at a junction to engage, and can be obstructive when cold.
Neil Bainbridge suggested a Stomski Racing gear linkage and engine mounts to improve the shift, which I trialled, but handed the engine mounts back as they altered the car’s feel too much. The Stomski linkage makes the shift function a little better and is worthwhile. An engine and ‘box rebuild will happen, but for now all that’s required is some TLC and a ‘mind map’ of where to place the shifter.
I feed the lever’s long travel into first to feel the gentle resistance that ‘gives’ just before engagement, like Spitfire pilots described pushing the throttle ‘through the gate’ for full power. Back into second isn’t in a 180° plane from first, but about 182.75-and-a-bit°, slightly away from me. Despite no spring assistance, second to third finds itself. Third to fourth is no issue and reassuringly feelsome, but the true reward of the 915 is the beautiful, well-oiled and deliciously heavy-duty mechanical sensation of fourth up to fifth, accompanied by an aural delight that sounds like ‘schlukk-schlikk’, and never fails to please. Despite the long shift travel, rapid gear swaps are fun and easy. I love my 915!