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Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
2/22/17 10:20 a.m.

Those who have known me for a while may remember the 1986 944 Turbo that I once had:

It was a lot of fun, but I was still pretty heavy into autocross at the time, and the turbo lag made it less than ideal for that purpose. I also lived in constant fear of something expensive breaking, add in the fact that I've never been a fan of red cars, and I ended up parting ways with it after a year or so. Still, I pined for another 944. Almost 10 years have passed, several BMWs including my never-finished E30, a couple of Mustangs, a Miata, a GTO, and probably some others I'm forgetting. But 944s were always there, lurking in my mind.

Well, last night I brought this home:

It's an 85.5, so it has the updated interior. 105k-plus, the odometer broke at some point in the past. No records, the PO told me that the timing belt was replaced about 3 years ago, so it's due. It was cheap, but there are a number of issues. The brakes are very soft. The tires are badly dry-rotted. The rear shocks (at least) are shot, it crashes and bangs over the smallest bumps. The paint, as you can see, is pretty far gone.

The dash is pretty well cracked, even by 944 standards:

The drivers-side mirror is loose on it's mount, I'll have to dig into that and see if I can fix it or I have to replace:

BUT, it runs great and appears to have good oil pressure:

And most importantly, it's rust-free! Even though rust isn't typically an issue with these cars, you'd be surprised what 30+ years in the rust belt can do, even with a galvanized body.

It also has a somewhat rough but mostly complete interior, complete with part of a craptastic aftermarket stereo system that someone (poorly) installed. It's going to need a windshield, too.

For tires, there seems to be exactly one in the factory size (215/60R15). They are Kuhmo all-seasons and are cheap, so I'll probably just get a set for now with an eye toward different wheels and tires down the road. I'm not a huge fan of the phone dials.

Short term, my plans are to get it safe and driveable. That means tires and shocks, and bleeding the brakes to see what's what with them, possibly replace components as needed. Longer-term, I'll work on the cosmetic issues, catch up on all the deferred maintenance, and just make it a nice-day driver with an occasional autocross and once-in-a-blue-moon track day.

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
2/23/17 8:10 a.m.

I can officially say that this is the first time I've been able to wash a car outside in February:

Even after a wash, the paint is... not good:

These were brand-new towels before I used them to dry the car:

I have a pretty good arsenal of detailing equipment and experience, and I may try to restore the existing paint to the extent I can. But it'll just be for the fun of it, this paint is hosed, the car is going to need a respray. Looking at the header panel, it looks like someone has tried to attack it with a buffer and went a bit too far with it:

It's hard to see in that picture, but the paint is worn through on the edge, and there's a big spot on the bumper where you can see primer shadowing through.

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
2/27/17 9:17 a.m.

Back from vacation so I can chime in. I went to look at this car with Tom about a month ago. I was a big proponent for it when he first looked at it. It's a bit rough, but I think all the important bits are there. Everything that's wrong is essentially consumables (tires, shocks, brakes) or cosmetic (paint, seats, carpet and even mirror) The consumable stuff would need doing at some point on any car, so it all being bad now got the price down, and it will mean he can start off with it all in working order. The other stuff, except the mirror he can live with and unbolt, replace over time. If he were building a challenge or Spec 944 car this would have been perfect as you could just bin 90% of what's wrong to start with. I think it's going to be a great car and after his failed E30 project it's the perfect simple project and will be a good companion and competitor to my cheap Boxster which replaced my stalled Saab project.

Come on guys and girls, chime in with some encouragement for Tom here.

BlueInGreen44
BlueInGreen44 Dork
2/27/17 9:31 a.m.

Sounds like it's not far away from being a solid driver. It makes me happy to see a ratty 944 getting some love.

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair UltimaDork
2/27/17 2:15 p.m.

You can do it, water boy!

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
2/27/17 3:44 p.m.

Once I finish this pesky bathroom remodel, I promise lots of progress!

cmcgregor
cmcgregor Dork
2/27/17 4:18 p.m.

Love it. Looks like it's got good bones. I've been seeing more and more of these pop up for cheap, which has piqued my interest despite a good friend of mine having a not so stellar experience with one. I think we can chalk that up to youthful exuberance though - we were in college when he had it, and he ended up spinning it into a guardrail and having about 5 different colors of replacement panels on it. We called it the amazing technicolor dreamporsche.

Billy_Bottle_Caps
Billy_Bottle_Caps Dork
2/27/17 8:40 p.m.

Best of luck

smokindav
smokindav Reader
2/28/17 12:16 a.m.

You've got some time - I won't be around to Detroit to check up on you until mid-Summer after our Houghton Lake vacation.

jh36
jh36 New Reader
2/28/17 5:08 a.m.

Congrats! I have had 944's in some form for almost 20 years. I continue to believe in the platform as a race car although I get some funny looks at times. I have one on the lift and two under tarps now. Yours looks like what I would look for....good bones and maintenance items needing replacement. Happy to see an old 944 getting some love....welcome back to Stuttgart.

Mad_Ratel
Mad_Ratel Dork
2/28/17 5:19 a.m.

My first car was a 1994 Geo Prizm. When my sister came of age to drive dad gave her the prizm and bought me a salvage title 944S. I loved that car. I thought it was super fast... right until a buddy in his dad's Taurus SHO WALKED the hell out of me...

Also UNDERSTEER... Many MANY fond memories. Changing the clutch with it only 12" in the air on jackstands, using my toes and hands to lift the torque tube and rotate it 180* so I could push it back far enough to get at the clutch.

I was surprised with it by my father. He'd bought it 1.5 hours away and had the guy bring it on a ramp truck. The day of delivery dad kept calling me outside to come do stupid little chores for him while I had a friend over. I literally had just exploded because for the fifth time in 20 min he was calling me to come outside when the dude finally found our house to drop off the car. It had sat for 8 years after a fuel fire and insurance had finally sold it off. It was three months of work to get it going again. I used to come home everyday and put leather conditioner on the seats. They started out super hard and ended up pliable and comfortable again. It also had limo tint on it that dad insisted I remove. I spent 3 days laying in the back of it with a razorblade slowly scraping chunks of tint off. Only messed up 1 defrost line...

My mother forced us to sell it when I was in college. The alternator decintegrated while on the highway and she put her foot down "no more unreliable expensive cars"...

Always wanted an S2 but they seem to have become super duper rare. (Or a 968).

One of my favorite parts of the car was how it looked like a spaceship at night all lit up.

Why does it seem like the 944 has started to gain value? Looks like 5k for a car with at least decent paperwork. 12k for a turbo (starting...o.O).

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
3/20/17 2:54 p.m.

Nothing like buying a project car and then not touching it for a month! In my defense, I've been remodeling a bathroom, and that had to take top priority. It's almost done, so I decided to go tinker with the 944 a bit yesterday.

I figured I'd start by changing the oil and running some Seafoam through the intake. So I backed it up from where it's been sitting since I parked it back in February and saw this on the floor:

I knew it had a leak, but that's quite a lot of oil. And... something else. Uh-oh. Blown head gasket? But I checked the oil:

So, the oil looks clean, but what's making it to the ground is certainly a mix. Might be coolant, might be power steering fluid? It was hard to tell. Taking a look underneath:

The oil pan is a freaking mess. Not sure where that leak is coming from, there's so much oil everywhere it's hard to tell. The PO told me that the valve cover gasket was leaking, so maybe that's it, and it's dripping down to the pan?

Also, the front cover looks to be seeping some, too:

Possible source of PS fluid leak?

So, I need to get under there with some rags and brake cleaner, and just clean everything as well as I can. Then maybe I can locate the source of the leaks. I'm hoping it's not the pan gasket, as removing the pan is not a fun job.

Anyhow, I decided to Seafoam it. I have no idea if this stuff actually does anything, but it makes a bunch of smoke:

Some of which was coming from under the hood (sorry for the blurry pic):

So, yeah. Got an exhaust leak under there.

Much to do, and I haven't even looked at the suspension yet. I better get moving!

BlueInGreen44
BlueInGreen44 Dork
3/20/17 3:19 p.m.

Oil filter on tight?

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
3/20/17 3:37 p.m.
BlueInGreen44 wrote: Oil filter on tight?

Actually, I haven't checked it, but the vast majority of the oil seems to be on the back of the engine, and the filter is up front.

Stefan
Stefan MegaDork
3/20/17 4:19 p.m.

Power steering pump, lines and rack. Time to rebuild those and replace the hoses along with the reservoir (its a $15 part with a built-in filter). Not cheap, but once done and filled with ATF and not power steering fluid it shouldn't leak anymore. You might as well plan on new suspension bushings as the ATF/PS fluid will destroy them all in short order. You can get polyurethane rack bushings now, which are pretty nice.

The engine oil/water could be the water/oil cooling solution on the side of the motor and a completely failed AOS (on the opposite side near the back of the motor) could also cause some oil leaks, etc. New o-rings for the cooler and borrow the alignment tool from someone online/local and you shouldn't have many problems.

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
3/21/17 7:41 a.m.

Looks like Stefan has a good course of action laid out for you. I like the idea of the AOS failure, that could be it. I really hope it's not a leaking rear main seal having sat for a long time. If it is you may as well pull the engine and change every seal and gasket while in there. Do you have a compression tester to check the head gasket? If not let me know and I'll bring mine over.

HAve you posted on one of the Porsche boards to ask about the symptoms as well?

Billy_Bottle_Caps
Billy_Bottle_Caps Dork
3/21/17 9:13 a.m.

Pelican and Rennlist are both good, and of course Clark's Garage.

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
3/21/17 9:16 a.m.
Adrian_Thompson wrote: Looks like Stefan has a good course of action laid out for you. I like the idea of the AOS failure, that could be it. I really hope it's not a leaking rear main seal having sat for a long time. If it is you may as well pull the engine and change every seal and gasket while in there. Do you have a compression tester to check the head gasket? If not let me know and I'll bring mine over.

I do, I guess I should check it. I'm really trying to avoid scope creep here, that's what killed my E30 project. Too much "while I'm in there" that led to more stuff being taken apart, more money spent, more time, etc.

HAve you posted on one of the Porsche boards to ask about the symptoms as well?

Yes, I have a parallel build thread on Rennlist.

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
4/17/17 1:17 p.m.

Been doing some work on the old girl, I need to do a better job of updating this thread.

First off, some good news (I think) regarding the oil leak. After cleaning off the pan and giving it a couple of days, this is what I see:

Looks to me like the leak is coming from the drain plug. I got a new aluminum washer, I'll deal with it when it comes time to change the oil. I still think there's a leak up higher, though, there's a good bit of oily sludge on the back part of the head, so my operating theory is that it's the valve cover gasket. I'll get to that in a minute.

Got going on the front suspension, here are the strut assemblies out:

Things are looking pretty crusty, as you can see. Removed the strut inserts and they basically fell apart:

So I decided to clean up the strut housings a bit and hit them with some rust-o-leum:

The new Koni insert in place:

I'm waiting for some VW Fox upper strut mounts, then I can re-assemble the struts and put them back in the car.

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
4/17/17 1:22 p.m.

Brake calipers were mostly fine, but again, rusty and crappy looking:

The seals have seen better days, though:

I've always just bought replacement calipers in this kind of case, but this time I decided to try my hand at rebuilding them. How hard can it be, and the kits were only $7 from Rockauto. Upon removing the pistons, things weren't pretty:

Looking a little better after some cleanup with 2000-grit sandpaper and Brakeleen:

Here's one caliper reassembled and painted with high-temp paint:

Just waiting on Amazon to send me the right pads, the first ones they sent were wrong. Then I can re-install the brakes, along with the stainless lines I got from Paragon.

I'm also working on the driver's side door mirror. And since I need to replace the valve cover gasket and the timing and balance shaft belts, I'm going to do both at once since the distributor needs to come off for both. Flywheel lock and balance shaft pulley tool are on their way from Paragon, I'm hoping to start that job later this week.

Stefan
Stefan MegaDork
4/17/17 1:41 p.m.

FYI: There's no valve cover on that motor, its called a cam tower and it holds the camshaft in place.

So yeah you'll want to do belts and water pump along with cam tower seals while you've got it apart.

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
4/17/17 1:44 p.m.
Stefan wrote: FYI: There's no valve cover on that motor, its called a cam tower and it holds the camshaft in place. So yeah you'll want to do belts and water pump along with cam tower seals while you've got it apart.

Yeah, still using the terms I grew up with, I guess.

Stefan
Stefan MegaDork
4/17/17 1:55 p.m.

Its all good. That's really more for folks who don't know that PITA engine all that well.

When you rebuild the calipers, make sure to align the notches in the pistons properly once you're done:

Caliper Piston Orientation

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
6/5/17 1:43 p.m.

Wow, it's been a while. Fear not, for while I have been neglecting this thread, I have not been neglecting the car! In fact, it's getting close to being road-ready.

After rebuilding the brake calipers, I finished up the front suspension. Old, dead, leaking struts came out, new Konis went in:

My upper strut mounts were looking a bit tired, and the factory Porsche ones are around $100. A bit of searching revealed that late 80s VW Fox parts will also work. $4 each from Rockauto. Here is the worn-out factory mount on the left with the new Fox part on the right:

It took me a few fits and starts to get everything assembled right, but it's finally done and they are on the car.

It's getting tougher to find 15" tires for these cars. To that end, I had a standard search set up on Craigslist for Porsche wheels. I was able to score a set of 16" 928S4 "Gullydeckel" wheels for $200. Which is great, but my car, being an 85.5, has the early offset, so the fronts didn't fit so well:

The inner lip of the wheel is literally touching the coil spring. After doing a bit of research and asking around on Rennlist, I ended up getting some 1" spacers and 72mm studs:

And since I had to remove the hub faces to install the new studs, I took the opportunity to repack the front wheel bearings, as well.

The wheels were a little beat-up looking (probably why they were so cheap), so I painted them with some Duplicolor wheel paint:

For tires, I ended up going with Firestone Firehawk Indy 500s. I'm doing 205 front and 225 rear. The tires are pretty cheap and did well in testing on Tire Rack. I know they aren't the hot ticket for autocross, but they should be better than the all-season stuff that I could find in the stock size, and they were under $100 each. Need to get them mounted this week.

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
6/5/17 1:50 p.m.

The interior in this car was kind of a mess. It's a cheap 30+ year old car, and has probably been through a bunch of owners in it's time before it got to me. This is what was waiting for me after I removed the drivers seat:


Gross. So I vacuumed, shampooed, vacuumed again, shampooed again, and.... forgot to take an "after" picture. But trust me, it looks (and smells) a whole lot better now.

The seats are OK, not great, but the leather was very dried out and stretched. After cleaning them up with some Murphy's Oil Soap and water, I rubbed in several coats of Leather Honey to try and restore some suppleness. They are looking and feeling quite a bit better now:

The other issue in the interior was the stereo installation that happened some time in the 90s I'm guessing, based on the components that were in the car.

Generic, no-brand amplifier in the spare tire well:

Actually, the amp looks to have been professionally installed, the wiring is pretty tidy. At least, it is in this part of the car. This is the mess that was behind the no-brand head unit:

And of course, no crappy 90s stereo setup is complete without a graphic equalizer! This thing was crammed so far under the passengers side of the dash I didn't even know it was there until I crawled under to chase the wiring:

Then there was all the wiring. Pre-amp lines going down the drivers side rocker panel, speaker wires going down both sides, wiring held together with household wire nuts, wiretaps going into random wires under the dash to power all this stuff, what looked like a CD changer cable, etc. etc. Here is but a small sample of all the crap I pulled out of the car:

And there was way more. I'm certain I've removed at least 20 lb of junk and greatly cleaned up under the dash. I'm replacing it all with a simple Blaupunkt digital-only receiver and some cheap-but-decent Pioneer speakers. I certainly don't need anything fancy.

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