- Enjoying a Porsche 911 SC on a Budget




Enjoying a Porsche 911 SC on a Budget

I'm Tom, and my son Jeff and I operate this website to share some of the experiences we've had with our 911 SC project.  I've long had a desire to own and operate a Porsche 911, and a few years ago I purchased one here in the Phoenix area.   It was in pretty good shape, but we soon found that Porsche ownership was not for the faint-of-heart.

My first car was a 1956 MGA roadster.  It cost $450...which was all the money I had.  It was pretty clear from the beginning, that if it ever required any parts or maintenance (and what British sports car doesn't) I was going to have to supply it.  I'm no mechanic, but you learn real quick when you depend on a car to get you to work (and everywhere else).  So I bought a shop manual and some tools and I kept that little MG on the road ...on the cheap. 

1954 XK-120 Tucson, ArizonaI went directly from the MGA to a 1954 XK-120 Jaguar roadster.  That car cost me $399 (I had to charge it on my credit card).  Air Force Sergeant's pay  meant I had to maintain this one too.  So I bought another shop manual and some more tools.  Later on I did have to have a valve job done on that car, but I took the head off myself and took it to the shop to save a few dollars (thank god that timing chain went back on right).  I found a complete (but wrecked) parts car for it for less than $200 that had all the parts I needed (including e-type chrome wires).  I tried to prepare the car for paint myself, but had a good and reasonably priced painter/body man do the painting (Ferrari man o'war yellow).  Life was good.

While a certain monetary necessity has often played a part in how I've maintained the cars I've owned over the years, there has also been a sense of independence  that I think was instilled in me by my father.  My dad would rebuild engines for his cars in the side shed with tools he borrowed or bought cheaply.  He'd never pay someone else for something he felt he could do.  Obviously some repairs require tools and expertise that I don't posses, but that doesn't mean I have to pay through the nose for repairs.  There is a certain Zen in car ownership, if it is to be done right.

The first Porsche 911 I bought Jeff and I found in was a 1970 Porsche 911 Targa. It wasn't much...but it was all I could afford. Someone had converted it to a 912 engine, but we bought a spare 2.0 liter with the hopes of replacing it. We did a lot of tinkering and some restoration of door panels and the like (Jeff did a great job on the door panels), but my house caught on fire and we lost most of the things we had worked on. The car was later sold to make room for the new house construction.

When we bought the current Porsche in October, 2005 I knew I would probably always keep it.  It was just going to be driven for pleasure...I've got other cars to get me places.  Initially, all we knew it needed was a new hood strut and probably just an o-ring for the oil temp sender unit.  I got a decent price on a hood strut on eBay and we ordered the o-ring from Pelican Parts.  Pelican has been a gold mine for information about the Porsche.  The forums there are priceless.  That isn't to say that they don't perpetuate a lot of bullshit - they do - but there are a lot of people on the forums with tons of experience that can help you decide on how to approach some problems you might encounter with you car.

I learned early on in my life that the automobile world  has it share of bullshit beliefs.  I can remember with my early cars that I would carefully avoided buying "detergent" motor oil because the conventional wisdom was that it would  remove existing deposits that would plug up your oil pump and fry your engine.  Then I read an article in Road and Track by a chemical engineer that exposed that myth finally:  Detergent oil does not clean deposits, it prevents them.  There are many more erroneous beliefs just like that being perpetuated today by well meaning car read the forums carefully.

One of the first things you might notice when you peruse the Pelican forums is that a lot of people on there probably can afford to own a Porsche.  Much of the advice that is dispensed assumes you've got a lot of money and not much time.  You'll often read that someone has pull their engine to replace a broken head stud and someone on the forum will advise them that since the engine is already out they might as well split the case, rebuild the crank, replace the pistons and cylinders, upgrade to Carrera chain tensioners, install a new clutch kit and flywheel, and plate the heads in gold (okay, I made up that last part).

So this site is about guys like me who love cars but have to live within a budget.  My son Jeff and I will be doing as many upgrades, and improvements to the car that we can, but all with a eye to practicality.  My son Jeff is a good "shade tree"  mechanic and is tackling all the engine repairs for us.  Together we are learning and  having fun trying to keep the 911 on the road.  If money were no object I'm sure I'd convince myself to spend more of it on my car.  But I'd always be torn by the thought that I could have done it cheaper, and could maybe use what I saved to buy another car!








Copyright 2008