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Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/3/12 9:06 p.m.

Last week, I picked up a 1983 911SC Targa. I had been looking for a restoration project. I really wanted to restore a lathe, but I accidentally typed "Porsche" into Craigslist instead of "Lathe" and the spell check let it slide. A few hours later, this was in my driveway.


It's complete and it starts, but my compliments will end there. It was filthy and needed some love. The paint is awful and it has a broken throttle cable, which is what sidelined the car for the previous owner.

It's no secret that I don't expect to own it for very long, but I plan to do some work to it before I pass it along. Some of what I need to do is the same stuff that you would do to any old car that you drag home, but other things will be specific to 911s. I want to post a thread on my work because a lot of people are afraid of these cars and shy away from them. That's unfortunate because they're fairly simple cars; they just go about things a little differently. And not all Porsche parts cost a fortune. There are helpful (and very active) forums out there (I prefer Pelican) and even though you can't always run down to Advance Auto on Sunday evening to get the part you need, almost everything is available online and used parts are plentiful.

And so it begins...

I started by cleaning out the trunk and interior so I could get a decent assessment of what I was working with. I pulled the huge battery and put it on the charger while I cleaned things up.



While it's still not great, at least it's presentable. I wanted to dive right in and get a good idea of it's mechanical condition, but there were a couple of obstacles in front of me. One was a tankful of fuel, age unknown. The other, was a huge inconvenience that needed to be addressed ASAP: the driver's side exterior door handle was broken and I had to climb across from the passenger side to open the door. It is not uncommon for the trigger to break on these, but while I could claim "bad design", I do have to admit that the car had been sitting for a long time, everything needed to be cleaned and lubed and, not insignificantly, the original lasted 29 years. I found a good used one locally and had it installed within 24 hours. Once I had the door panel off, it was two bolts and no linkage to disconnect. Very simple design.

The door panel storage pocket was looking a little shabby and since it was already off, I cleaned it up, repaired a crack with some Gorilla Glue and reattached the carpet with some spray adhesive. I haven't reinstalled it yet.



As evidence of the hand built nature of these cars, here's a blurry photo of of one of the power window switches. Note that each of the five wires on each of the three switches had to be attached by hand.


I removed the steering wheel because the leather had started to come off. I made three attempts at restitching it before giving up. First, thread failure (two types) then leather failure. You used to be able to buy nice stitch on leather covers, but they don't seem to sell them anymore.


I scored this off Craigslist: A like-new Momo Monte Carlo for $90. Combined with an eBay sourced adapter, it may find its way into this car. I'm not sure. I like it so much, it might end up in my other car.


For now, the old one will go back in the car.

Gotta love the VDO gauges. Big tach, front and center.


Since the throttle cable is busted, I decide it would be a good time to remove, sandblast, paint and rebuild the floor mounted pedal cluster (don't be afraid of them; you won't even notice). I ordered new bronze bushings for pedals and the clutch and throttle pivots for about $13. This will look much prettier by next weekend.




Since there's no room at the inn, the car resides outside and I lost a couple of days to the snow. Hard to complain, though, after the otherwise mild winter.

Back to work. I finally got a chance to clean up the engine compartment. By "clean", I don't actually mean "clean" but rather "ditch the cruise control and air conditioning". No 911 deserves these. The A/C barely worked when these cars were new and its beyond useless at this point. Besides, it's a Targa...



Now it should be a lot easier to get at all the good stuff underneath.

Next up: drain the old fuel, new plugs, check and clean all the ignition wires and contacts and those pedals...

Luke SuperDork
3/4/12 7:21 a.m.

Excellent thread. Sort of a GRM 'live' version of Wheeler Dealers.

Looking forward to watching your work!

Also, the Monte Carlo is the best looking Momo wheel ever. Or at least tied with the Prototipo.

ValuePack Dork
3/4/12 8:27 a.m.

Color me a fan, I'm voting this up.

Woody GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/4/12 8:40 a.m.
Luke wrote: Also, the Monte Carlo is the best looking Momo wheel ever. Or at least tied with the Prototipo.

No, I've gotta vote for the Momo Martini.


stuart in mn
stuart in mn SuperDork
3/4/12 8:40 a.m.

You could try Alan Gun Leather for a new steering wheel cover: http://aglausa.com/ I've heard good things about their products.

If the car is going to be resold I wouldn't toss out the a/c and cruise control parts - at least keep them in a box, the new owner may want to put them back on.

Woody GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/4/12 8:52 a.m.

I don't toss anything that says Porsche on it. I even have pieces of old spark plug wires on my shelf.

But if I were to throw things out, I'd start with the A/C stuff. Even when it was new it was junk.

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker SuperDork
3/4/12 8:59 a.m.
Woody wrote: But if I were to throw things out, I'd start with the A/C stuff. Even when it was new it was junk.

I agree with this - but I wonder if you can fit something modern that would work - I am sure the junkyard has a new Bosch with a smaller compressor and components that could be fit onto that space. I know the compressor I took off my 964 was massive compared to the one on the Mrs E46.

It does not make sense for a Targa in CT but I imagine when you flip it - it may matter to a potential buyer in the steamy south. Even in PA - there are rainy days where I'd like a defogger that works without blasting the heat.

Javelin GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/4/12 9:00 a.m.

Following with interest!

LopRacer Reader
3/4/12 9:02 a.m.

Love me some 911 refurbish, because if I can ever score one I will probably have to do just such an operation. I doubt I will be getting a pristine example.

forzav12 Reader
3/4/12 9:20 a.m.

I would have removed the AC.etc stuff to clean and detail it and the engine. Then they would have been re-installed. The AC on our SC and Carrera both work pretty well. Most Porsche buyers like to see all the factory components in place-you will be able to get more for it if it doesn't look hacked. Exception to this would be a car prepped for track use, obviously.

octavious New Reader
3/4/12 4:37 p.m.

Any records for engine work? If not I'd get a set of valve cover gaskets and at least check the valves, and adjust as needed.

I'd also do a fluid swap on the transmission, especially if it has sat.

Did you say it had a pop off valve? (I don't remember) If not that is a must do with the CIS.

I'd also ugrade to oil fed tensioners if it doesn't have them.

Since it's your money I'm more than happy to help you spend it.

Apexcarver SuperDork
3/4/12 4:45 p.m.

When I see these older 911 threads it makes me think what it would take in effort and cost to get an older 911 (but not so old as to not be galvanized) and swap in a WRX engine to make a winter-salt resistant nice daily driver.

Cost/benefit of the WRX swap? Getting an older 911 with a bum engine should be cheaper, right? Cheaper engine to maintain, possibly better gas mileage and better performance.

How would one be with proper tires in the snow? Would hardware rust still be a big problem in the salt?

wonder wonder wonder...

Fletch1 HalfDork
3/4/12 5:52 p.m.

I just used this for my faded red paint on my 91 Civic Si. Just one coat made a big difference.

Woody GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/4/12 5:56 p.m.


The car has a pop off valve and Carrera pressure fed cam chain tensioners (more on that stuff later). Somebody was taking good care of the engine at some point.

Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/5/12 8:12 a.m.

I spend a good part of Sunday afternoon with my head under the engine lid. It was Ignition Day.

But first, I want to talk about a couple of things that were mentioned above: Pop Off Valves and Carrera Pressure Fed Cam Chain Tensioners. My car has had both installed by a previous owner. This is good.

The Pop Off Valve modification only applies to the 911 SC, which was equipped with CIS fuel injection. Long story short, if a CIS car gets out of tune, especially if there is a vacuum leak, they can backfire, which can blow the plastic airbox apart. Airboxes are expensive. In the event of a backfire, the valve provides a safe outlet for the pressure. The pros will tell you that a properly tuned CIS system will never backfire and if you keep the car in primo condition, you'll never have an issue. But, maybe a backfire will be the first indication that the car is getting out of tune and it only takes one to destroy an airbox. The pop off valve kit is easy to install and only costs about $40. It's cheap insurance.

Here's a photo of an airbox with the valve installed.

The Carrera Cam Chain Tensioners are a little more complicated, a little more expensive and a lot more important. Prior to 1984, 911s came with spring loaded tensioners that can fail suddenly and the result is the same as a timing belt failure in an interference engine, only this time, you need to replace a Porsche engine ($$). Carreras (1984 and up) used hydraulic pressure fed tensioners that are much more reliable. You can retro fit these to 69-83 cars. The retrofit kit is about $450 for 74-83 cars. Kits for earlier cars will cost a little more. You can do it yourself, but there is a lot of work involved.

Look for these two oil lines that I'm pointing to with the screwdriver. They're presence indicates that your SC has had the upgrade. You can also see where my engine tin was cut to allow the line to pass through.



Woody GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/5/12 9:02 a.m.

Porsche is kind enough to provide you with lots of good information on decals under the engine lid, including oil, ignition and valve adjustment details. They expect you to get your hands dirty on your sports car.


Okay, back to the ignition. The first thing I did was to make sure that I was getting spark at each cylinder using one of these handy little tools:

I found good spark all around, but I still wanted to change the plugs and check the cap, rotor and wires.

With the A/C and cruise control out of the way, it's much easier to get at the spark plugs. The plugs are deep inside the holes in the valve covers and they can be a little tricky to find the first time you do it. The plugs thread into the heads at an angle and they aren't centered in the valve cover hole. I'm pretty sure that Porsche uses the same heads on both sides of the engine, so the plugs on the driver's side angle forward and on the passenger's side, they are angled back. Once you find the approach angle for the first one, the others will be easy. Not surprisingly, the absolute best tool for the job is the one that Porsche gives you with the car. It is exactly what you need to do the job with minimal aggravation.


The plugs that came out had been in there a while, but they were in good shape. I installed new ones anyway since I already had them. They were in stock at Advance Auto for about $2 a piece. Nothing fancy here.

Now, the plug wires. Original style Porsche plug wires are very high quality and consequently, crazy expensive, so rather than just replace them, I decided to measure the resistance. All were well within factory spec, so I reused them. (If they weren't within spec, I probably would have made my own with a universal V8 kit from Accel for about $29. The plug end boots would have been a little more difficult to install, but the savings would have been worth it.)

The cap end of the wire can pull apart easily and it that's what happened as I tried to remove the first one (I was able to reattach it), so I used a hook tool to loosen the others before pulling on them.


The plug ends thread into the wires, so you can't easily adapt new universal wires to original ends but, again, they all measured fine with the ohm meter and were reused.


The cap and rotor looked fairly new, so I just cleaned all the contacts with a wire brush on my Dremel tool and reused them.

Total cost for this part of my tune up was about $12, and I probably could have just cleaned and reused the old plugs if I wanted to.

Next up is the fuel system. I know there is a broken accelerator cable and I suspect there is another fuel delivery problem. It could be the pump itself, or just a relay. Either way, I have to get the old fuel out of the tank first. Unfortunately, I won't be able to get my hands on the car again for a couple of days, though I'll be able to do some reading on the fuel system and plan my attack.

octavious New Reader
3/5/12 9:11 a.m.

Apexcarver-there is a guy who put a WRX motor in a 911 shell over on Pelican. It was a very neat swap but took a lot of work because he had to fab up the radiator and cooling to the motor.

Woody- pop off valves were very important on the mid-year 74-77 2.7 CIS motors as well. Not just the SC.

In regards to the AC. I don't think AC was standard on the 911 until the Carrera. It might have been the SC but I don't think so. Prior to it being standard it was "dealer installed" and all the systems SUCKED. They system adds between 95-105 lbs of weight to the car, and if you are lucky it might blow warm air. Even the factory AC in the Carrera was just ok and routinely had to be recharged every summer. I believe with the 964 they got the system sorted out and were eventually able to cool the car correctly. (My crappy AC system was also tossed early on.)

Woody GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/5/12 9:17 a.m.
octavious wrote: Woody- pop off valves were very important on the mid-year 74-77 2.7 CIS motors as well. Not just the SC.

Sorry, I tend to forget about 2.7s. My bad.

docwyte Reader
3/5/12 10:50 a.m.

I love cruise control. Is it that much of a boondoggle on the SC? On my 951 it's a simple system that doesn't take up much room or get in the way.

wlkelley3 Dork
3/5/12 11:26 a.m.

Will be watching this thread closely, keep posting. A friend just picked up a 69 911 and he doesn't know much about foriegn cars, he restores tri-5 (55,56,57) Chevies and early 60's Pontiacs. He blames hanging with me on the getting a sports car urge. And I don't know much about air-cooled either. German I can deal with, after all I do own an Opel GT.

Woody GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/5/12 11:33 a.m.
docwyte wrote: I love cruise control. Is it that much of a boondoggle on the SC? On my 951 it's a simple system that doesn't take up much room or get in the way.

No, I just never use it and I need access to the throttle linkage. It was only sort-of in the way. Two bolts, two screws, two vacuum lines and a plug.

oldtin SuperDork
3/5/12 11:49 a.m.

Save the cruise bits - especially the computer/box - it's an expensive part. If it's an earlier SC it's around $500 - later SC = $250

Woody GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/5/12 12:02 p.m.

I save every nut and bolt.

docwyte Reader
3/5/12 1:22 p.m.

Easy to put back on then before you sell the car. Maybe even to me...

mad_machine GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/5/12 3:46 p.m.

I would keep the CC. I use mine all the time.. especially if I am traveling through an area that I know is a known speed trap. Knowing the top speed of the 911.. I would consider keeping it just for the highway

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