Wednesday, 6 March 2013

911 Project - Heavy Metal

As is almost inevitable with projects like this one, I have underestimated the amount of effort it would involve.  However, unlike many restorations of old cars, I have had no nasty surprises. You see, by some fluke of good fortune my 40 year old 911 is practically rust free. 

I've held out making this announcement for a long time. Internet doom mongers will tell you there are only two types of old 911s - rusty ones and those where the owner hasn't found the rust yet. 

Here are a couple of shots I've taken from a DDK thread on the restoration of a 1972 car - it gives you an idea of what can be expected under a car that looks nice and shiny on the top. All of the complex structures that give the car its integrity have corroded. I'm reminded of fine Belgian lace - the consequences of a serious impact just don't bear thinking about. Here's the area of floor under the pedals:
 And here's a view from under the back of the car, the two rear seat pans and most of the rear shelf have simply disappeared. However, there are some amazing craftsmen working on old 911s in the UK at the moment, and this one will be repaired. The increasing value of the cars, even of the lowly 911T also means this sort of effort is (almost!) financially viable. 

My car appears to be the exception to the rule. From what I know and can deduce of its history, the car was originally delivered to California in late 1973, and appears to have spent recent years in storage. This benign existence has spared the car the worst ravages of the weather, and as a result much of that metal is just as it left the factory.

Over the past few weeks I've removed panels (front wings, doors, boot, bonnet, bumpers and sunroof), dropped the engine and gearbox, taken out the fuel and oil tanks, taken all of the trim out including the headlining, stripped the dashboard, and extracted most of the wiring harness.  
Original silver finish in the luggage compartment

The car is now almost down to the bare shell, which has enabled me to get a good look, bar one small section under the rear window, all of the the usual 911 rustspots are clear. Not trusting my own judgement, I've had a couple of expert second opinions, and both were agreed. The car is almost completely rust free.

Trim out and partway through stripping the heater mechanism

The fuel tank support area still show solid metal

The vulnerable windscreen support areas look good

Just surface rust in the rear seat pans

Apart from some dents, the floors under the sound proofing are like new

The pedal area is good

Rear shelf, the only remaining worry. There's a box section here, perished window seals and soundproofing that soaks up any leaks is a perfect 911 killing combination. The full picture will be revealed when the blast cleaners have finished.
This happy news means that I will not have to budget for any serious body repairs. I have also decided that it is worth doing the job properly. While my initial thoughts were to do only enough dismantling to allow a decent paintjob, I have now decided on something approaching a full restoration. This will involve taking off the remaining components and running gear, and mounting the bare shell on a dolly. I'll then have the shell blast cleaned, inside and out, before a full re-paint. Only the thick and high quality rubberised underseal protecting the bottom of the car will remain.