Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Porsche 911T Project - Interior

As bought, the interior of the 911 was a real mess. The original steering wheel and seats had been replaced by cheap aftermarket items, and there was a nasty radio cassette unit jammed into the dash. 
Horrible wheel, overspray, gash stereo,
rusty rings, u/s clock.........

Further investigation revealed big holes in the door cards where speakers had been 'fitted', a cheap US made replacement carpet set (hanging off in a number of places), yellow overspray on the dash, bodged fixings for a number of switches, corrosion on the instrument rings, and one door top was from a later model (complete with the hole for the electric window switches). 

Holy door cards.
I also noticed that the dash top doesn't fit at all well, the rear parcel shelf trim hasn't been done correctly, the stuffing in rear seats is coming out, the alloy sill trim is only present on one side, and the door bins are very tatty.

Like I said, a real mess.

On the upside, the headlining looks to be in good condition, and...., well that's the upside.

Things were improved once Tuthills had fitted the Momo wheel and Recaro seats, I spent a weekend giving it all a damn good clean and I found some rubber mats to use, but there was a whole shopping list of stuff still needed. 

So I started shopping.

The UK's best known Porsche trim shop, Southbound, are not far away, and better still they're at the other end of one of the best driving roads in the south of England. I popped in, and ordered new door cards in their classic RS pattern with a leather pull strap, Fiat interior handle, an early 911 style pocket, all finished in the slightly earlier basket weave vinyl. After some consideration I also ordered a matching strip to re-cover the dash, and the whole lot  arrived a couple of weeks later. I also found a correct driver's side door top from those lovely DDK people, along with a working clock.

On my 'want' list was some music. Chris Harris' green 911 hotrod had a beautiful Becker Mexico head unit installed, patterned on a late 60's unit, but packed with modern electronics, including sat nav. 

Retro Becker Mexico - better than money in the bank
It is expensive, but looked like the perfect solution.

Sadly it turns out to have be another boat that has sailed; from what I understand, Becker retired hurt from the aftermarket, and production of the Mexicos ceased a year or two ago. As a result, a unit in good condition now sells for two or three times the original sale price. There are some cheaper retro-styled units around, but are nothing like as convincing. 

Regrouping, I decided to try and find an original unit, and rapidly discovered this was another thriving little petrol head market. All those Blaupunkt, Pioneer, Becker, Radiomobile and Phillips car stereos you remember from your childhood? They're still around, the good ones commanding serious money from collectors, dealers and restorers. 

Sometime later a poorly described Becker unit appeared on ebay. A lot of the older radios do not have FM, but this one did, and crucially it also had the DIN socket that would let me plug in an iPod. It was bagged.

Now I like my sons to have a project for the summer holidays. Mine was to sort out the doors and dash. As I was fast discovering, old 911s generally unbolt, and the same was true of  the interior. A couple of hours one afternoon had the doors stripped, and the following week I'd fitted the new cards. 

Bare door
It really only took a week because I also dismantled, cleaned, and re-greased the locking mechanisms and window regulators. In addition, I fitted the thick clear plastic waterproof membranes needed to protect the new cards from rain water flowing down into the door - £50 a pair from your local Official Porsche Centre. It was clear that I wasn't the first person to tear into the doors of the poor old 911, judging by the number of original nuts, bolts and fasteners I found that had been replaced with an assortment of 'close enough' replacements.

The end result was a big improvement, and lifted the interior. As is often the way, it also highlighted the other areas that could do with improvement.

Completed door with RS style 'basket weave' panels 
The dash trim was a considerably bigger challenge, as it involves removing all the switches and controls on the lower dash, including the heater levers, as well as the steering wheel (to get to the sections under the column trim). There's also inevitably quite a bit of blind scrabbling around under the dash trying to undo hidden fixings.  The brake bias adjuster Tuthills had fitted was another stumbling block. I'm not sure if pop-rivetting it to the dash is exactly rally-inspired engineering, and while drilling these out was straightforward, it took me a couple of phone calls before I figured out how to release it from the dash - by undoing a plastic collar. With sad inevitability I cross threaded the wretched thing putting it back. A further call to Tuthills revealed the the small plastic collar could not be bought without coughing up £100 for the whole adjuster mechanism. There's nothing like a financial incentive to trigger a bit of lateral thinking, and I managed to clean up the thread using a suitable sized metal nut. 

What was I thinking? The interior in pieces
I wasn't the first person under the dash either, Porsche's little plastic collar to keep the light switch fixed to the dash was now a knurled ring jammed onto the threads, and the section of metal plate where the radio hole is had been cut out and discarded by a bodging Previous Owner (PO). "*Sigh*" How difficult is it to do these things properly?

Not very difficult at all really, the OPC got me the plastic light switch collar, and some suitable plastic coat card replaced the missing lower dash trim plate. The old trim was persuaded off the plate, and using this as a pattern I cut the basket weave with the holes needed for switches etc.  and glued the new trim on. 

Using the old trim (bottom) as a pattern I cut out the
 holes for switches, heater and radio.
Fitting the radio had me stumped. While there's a DIN sized hole in the dash, there was no obvious way to mount the Becker. I'll admit I did take the whole shebang along to my friendly local ICE  emporium, where they revealed that the radio should be attached by two small vertical bars hidden behind the radio's fascia, fixed behind the dash panel and tensioned by screws. They also tidied up the rat's nest of wiring the PO had installed. As soon as I got home the radio came out again to let me finish off the re-trim, but once the basket weave was on, I stuck it back in, hiding the cable for the iPod in the glove locker next to it. 

Radio in and dash trim in place
I have to say, the music quality is also a bit period; thin and tinny and not loud. Partly that's because I didn't fit speakers in the doors so it relies on two in the rear compartment, where they project a mono signal to your ankles. There's more to be done in this department, but it's an improvement.
In fact, the 'new' interior was a big improvement all-round, not only did it look better, but wind noise from leading edge of the door had been noticeably reduced, and making the car a more relaxing place to spend time.

Detail showing the basket weave finish (and blimmin' yellow
overspray on the lower dash roll)
There's still much to be done, but sorting out the mysterious non-fitting dash, the bodged parcel shelf and the thin tatty carpet is going to mean a campaign on a much larger scale. 

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