One such project of 2018 that embodies this passion and utter determination is a 1972 914 restoration belonging to a client of ours based up in Colorado. The '72 914 was originally equipped with s 1.7L Type IV motor, when restoration is complete the car will feature a 3.6L 993 motor, 915 transmission, fresh suspension, 964 brakes and custom interior. This particular 914 has been part of our clients life for over 40 years, even before our customer was licensed to drive he had experienced this car from the passenger seat as it belonged to an older friend.
After starting to compose this article for our website and email list, we reached out to our client Mike to confirm some details of his ownership. In reply he sent the following account of the car's storied past.
"I was driving an old Willys Jeep at the time and riding in the 914, using the controls, the handling, the engine sounds and location, made me really appreciate the car and German engineering. Things needed adjustment and things broke. It just seemed so logical to repair and maintain.
I remember the car in the lot at Bob Hagestad Porsche in Lakewood, late summer 1972. Bob Hagestad was racing a Porsche back then and was a celebrity. His brother Vern had the local VW shop down on Colfax St., we had friends that were customers of Vern's and built killer bugs with 2180CC twin carb screamers.
The Porsche dealership is still there (now known as Prestige Imports), I have all the papers and the window sticker ($4,099) from the initial delivery of my car. My older buddy who bought the car at Hagstead had them install a luggage rack on the rear trunk, an Ansa exhaust, and 2-piece Empi Mag wheels. Soon after purchasing the car my pal was married and the newlywed couple took the 914 down to Phoenix for their honeymoon.
Three years later and 50K on the odometer, he traded the 914 for a 911S and same day, same dealer I made the deal for the immediate purchase of the 914 for $3,800. I sold a cool Willys Jeep I had restored to offset a portion the 914 purchase.
This is in 1975, I am 17 years old and starting my junior year in high school and living at home. After buying the car I actually hid it from my folks for over 2 weeks! Dad is just now getting over it because at the time he was driving an older base model pickup truck with no A/C or radio. I bought it in September 1975 and parked the car in the school teacher’s lot and refused to move it. For some reason they understood and allowed it. The only Porsche in the school! I was washing dishes and making pizzas. Working 6-7 days a week and many late nights, often until 2:00 am to keep the car and cover the insurance bill, all the while I'm still in school.
Winter hit and I would put on winter tires and carry chains. Got a ski rack and visited ski areas with the top off wearing my 70’s wool ski stuff. I actually went out at night to power slide in the quiet, hilly and snowy mountain neighborhoods. Mistakes on mountain roads were costly. Many trips off the road, down embankments (for those of us who worked on the chassis restoration at PMS, this is no surprise!) Never hit a car though. One time I actually went down a cliff in Breckenridge and the tow truck driver suggested to leave the car, thinking it was irretrievable. When I moved out of my folk’s house, I cut down and carried a Christmas tree on it that was longer than the car. I had vaulted ceilings at home! I took on a few landscaping projects where I carried materials and even a load of bricks in the rear trunk (just once). Even took it big game hunting, once. Dad questioned my intelligence. I responded I’m not a good shot.
Road trips to Jackson, WY, a couple trips to Yellowstone, up to BC Canada (via the ferry). Many of these trips were spontaneous and solo. One trip to Montana, the odometer seized and the speed needle was stuck at 90 MPH. It took a couple of years to get motivated to take it out of the cluster and have it rebuilt. I kinda' liked looking at “90 MPH” all the time. I just estimated the mileage in my detailed maintenance log.
When college came around I applied for CU and CSU and was accepted to both. At one time, I emptied the glove box, both trunks of tools, spare parts, a couple of spare fuel pumps (converting to Webers was not a great idea at the time) and started placing an ad in the Denver Post to sell the car. I was so upset with the thought of growing up and “having to” sell the car that I enrolled in a local community college and gave up my living arrangement in Boulder. The passion for that car outweighed CU, football games, parties and the college experience. I continued night school, was hired to draft at an engineering firm in downtown Denver, commuting in the racer. I think I got 7-8 speeding tickets in that car… Denver in 1978 wasn't what is today and a bit scary at the time. My consistent parking spot downtown was in a barbed wire lot (now Coors Field). I was robbed twice and had multiple stereos stolen. Did you wonder what all the dents in the dash came from? I learned to replace the broken windows at night (outside) and replace the stereos quite efficiently.
Fresh in community college, I started doing some local autocrosses and PCA events. The car at this point was mostly stock and did quite well considering. Later I added sway bars, dual carbs, I learned how to replace clutches, dial in the ignition, valve adjustments and brakes. Visiting my sweetie at CSU, some jealous guys took a ball peen hammer to my car one night. Not missing one panel. Luckily her dad restored a couple of cars for fun, so I learned body work as well.
Another trip in 1980 to visit college friends at CSU I ended up using a semi tractor’s differential as a stopping means to avoid going over the top of a steep overpass on black ice.
When I moved out of my parents place and bought my 1st home, we had a garage at last so the 914 was no longer exposed to the elements. Sitting outside in snow storms had previously allowed snow into the air cleaners, melting into the heads and cylinders, rusting the pistons to the cylinders when I let it sit. I learned to rock it in gear so it would un-seize and start.
A rocking chair on the rear luggage rack got many looks. In 1985, after years of commuting, getting hit by golf balls (I drove past a golf course twice a day), I again completely stripped the car, did more body work, found some disturbing rust… I primered the car myself. A standard shop did the paint. That was a 2-year project and I started limiting the use of the car.
I thought 150,000 miles was a lot and noticed some oil leaks. I studied and learned the process of rebuilding the Type IV motor from my shop manual. This time matching the cam with the carbs, adding a lightened flywheel, 96 mm big bore kit, balanced crank/rods. That motor went strong for another 110,000 miles and was retired in 1990 due to oil leaks filling up the rusted heat exchangers, blowing oil mist at cars behind me.
I started my fist engineering firm in 1988. 1990 I was newly married and dedicated time towards more real estate projects, next came two great kids. We towed the car between 3 house moves and once during a forest fire evacuation. My parts collection was neatly categorized and organized until I had to toss everything into bins to evacuate for the fire. Some folks couldn’t believe I was saving the car and parts over other, newer things. Once something gets into your soul…
My wife was pulling me / the car on an open trailer to our new home… I just couldn’t resist getting in the 914 driver seat (without a windshield) and the trunks full of parts. Got some double take looks on that trip1 She did comment she hadn’t see me smile that much in awhile.
The car actually sat under a mountain home deck, then moved into a barn (where hay bales fell and crushed the top). I even saw elk rubbing up against it so I made room and parked her inside. Now late 1996, I started stripping the car, removed the motor and kept it as a roller. I remember we were going to the Stock Show and I had under 2 hours before we had to leave – just enough time to remove the motor / gear box. Something about that car just clicked. I found a set of factory flares and started gathering parts with the intention of doing the restoration work myself. Bought a mig welder, sand blaster, tools, etc. I read more articles about the 3.6 conversion and in 2001, I sourced a '95 993 motor. I continued to fix up old mountain homes and raise kids, I put the car on the back burner so we all could enjoy family living.
2009 - Kids grew up and one went to CSU, the other to CU. 2 years apart of tuition and starting another engineering firm at the same time, I almost gave up the dream. I hadn’t even driven the car since 1990. In 2014, I was introduced to a body shop / steel fabricator that was starting out. Had some 356’s he was doing and really seemed to care. I took the car in for the steel work and flares. After nearly 2 years, that shop became more busy and I felt they lost interest in doing things the way I’d like, and having the car that long. I took the car back with rough primer and it sat for another year or more.
Seeing cars at shows, reading monthly articles in Excellence and watching the conversion phases and the quality at Patrick Motorsports web site truly kept me motivated. On September 14, 2017 I called James. Brought it to the shop in March 2018.
Many miles, many of them solo. Many spiritual and meaningful times, drinvingw ith the top off 90% of the time. Solved lots of problems and probably created many problems while driving that car! "
What an epic story, epic car. We can't thank Mike and all our customers enough for giving us the opportunity to do what we love and contribute to their car's story.
Period photo of Mike, his 914 and a buddy pushing the performance envelope of the 914.
Below are some images and captions that illustrate our project so far.
Chassis on our Celette bench, time to investigate the impact of those snow laden mountainside sliding experiences.
Bit' O cancer here. Time to cut out the bad and weld in the good.
One of a few fabrications to the chassis is nearing completion.
OEM Bumper, modified with cutout for front mounted oil cooler.
Fabrications complete, test fit of panels before paint process begins, We mock everything up, check, double check and adjust gaps, ensuring that each gap is accurate and as good as can be. If anything needs further manipulation much, easier and economical manipulate when we are paint free. From here we will disassemble, prep and paint.
Here one of our favorite fabrication details is visible. In an effort to easily and cleanly route the oil return and supply lines from our front mounted oil cooler we open up the chassis and weld in a 'routing elbow' for smoother, chafe free running of the oil lines into the rocker panel.
Passenger compartment view of oil line port fabrication.
Chassis fabrication, underbody seam sealing, paint complete! As Mike's 914 had been well run and experienced over the years, the chassis fabrication portion of his project was a bit more intensive than all parties involved would have liked. However, as the chassis is the building block of the car, absolute precision and soundness of materials here is required given our goal of building great cars. While each portion of a restoration is critical the chassis work certainly feels like some of the heaviest lifting.
Chassis on a dolly in our paint shop, interior and bottom coats completed. We are now in the all important prep stages for the top coat of paint. Once we mask off the already painted sections we will begin the process of blocking the primered body, blocking ensures a smooth, uniform surface for paint adhesion, no high sports, no low spots.
Stay tuned for updates on Mike's car, as we make progress we will update the project gallery.
Kudos to Mike and all you other Porsche fanatics out there.