Project Cars: Matt Biggs – Porsche 924S: Trials of separation

My love of Porsches began in the ’80s. It began with the 911, it swooned at the 928 [who’s the U-Boat commander?] and it was blown away by the 959. Ignoring of course the Audi-van-coupe thing, you know, for poor people. Despite my ever growing Porsche obsession when I finally came to buy my first proper sports car it was a Z4, not a Boxster.

I joined the Z4 forum and Twitter. About a year later, and I think it was through fellow Z4er, @dover_nige, I fell in with the wrong crowd. I encountered @FailCar who had bought a cheap 205 GTi and was doing a fantastic job of restoring it to former glory. Work on the Z4 whet my appetite and @FailCar’s reports fuelled my hunger for a project.

Around this sort of time a friend who had tried to persuade me to buy a Porsche instead of the Z4 was at it again and this time I really fancied a [modern] classic 911; I was reading all the Porsche magazines I could lay my hands on. Every now and then there was a little subliminal message buried between the 911 articles, pieces about the 924. It turned out the 924 the real deal and had a fantastic reputation.

While classic 911 ownership was a big draw I would have needed to sell the Z4. Another option was a second cheap car that I could tinker with and turn into a track tool. In 2010 I started looking, there was a 924S I liked the look of but, it was a non-runner, over 100 miles away and £1,000. In April 2011 I saw the same car again, only this time it had dropped to £550. I made a call. The seller was a Porsche dealer who bought the car very cheap with the intention of making a track car. He fitted over £1,000 of parts and MOT’d it. A month later the car stopped running and he didn’t have a chance to look it. Years later, pressure from his wife and it was up for sale. In a moment of impetuousness I agreed to buy the car, for £400.

The blind purchase arrives…

So as the unrelated events of the last two decades came together I’d bought my first Porsche. I had been a little rash though, I realised I didn’t know that it was either righthand drive and a manual. A week after I transferred my cash to the seller my car arrived on a trailer. The bodywork was slightly tattier than I’d hoped – someone had managed to ding pretty much every panel – but generally looked solid.

I set to work immediately on the engine. To rule out the obvious, and as I didn’t know what I was doing, I started by cleaning pretty much everything I could get to in the engine bay, unplugging anything that was easy to do so. No joy. One evening I was in taking some pictures and documenting parts that needed fixing and I leant over from the passenger’s seat and turned the key in the ignition. There was something, nothing more than a splutter, but a sign of life. I tried the key again, the engine fired fully and in a couple moments the revs settled, idling at 800rpm.

It might have been left sitting, but with some encouragement the engine ticked over

Better still, the engine started again the following morning I set about making the car MOT ready. I must confess to childlike behaviour here, not being able to drive the 924 anywhere I would sit in the driver’s seat, hold the wheel and move through the gears. I fixed a few niggles and booked the car for an MOT at the local centre.

I was more looking forward to the drive to the MOT centre. First impressions; the steering seemed to be nicely weighted but there was a little play, the gear change seemed good and the detuned 2.5l 150bhp engine from the 944 seemed strong and pulled very nicely. I fought my instincts and took it easy as the car hadn’t been running for a number of years.

It transpired that one of the MOT centre guys worked at the local Porsche dealer years ago and quite possibly would have conducted the pre-delivery work for the new owner. The car failed, big time. I drove home carefully, disgruntled. I went to a local Porsche specialist who established that most of the tasks weren’t that major but it needed welding. Calls were made and a while later and my car disappeared on the back of another trailer.

The Porsche heads off to be welded going on a trailer, naturally

During the welding a bad patch-up job was found and needed a new sill. When the car eventually made it to the Porsche specialist the fuel line went in, minor jobs done but an MOT showed the steering universal joint needed replacing, once done and the car passed. Hurrah! Then, the specialist put in £25 of fuel and the tank leaked. I bought a new one which wasn’t right, but with some modification has been fitted.

The classic cliché  scenario makes it first presence.

As soon as the car was roadworthy again it replaced the Z4 as my daily. Day one, I took it for some new tyres, Hankooks, but on the way back to the office noticed the battery light flicker. This got worse one my way home when I noticed the volt meter dropped quickly and shortly after I broke done. The RAC man arrived and discovered the alternator was faulty. I was about to buy a new one when @FistsOfHam suggested a refurb. I contacted a local company, took it in and they did an excellent job, all for around £100. The car is on the road again and I’ve racked up about 250 miles so far. Still a lot of work to be done, but moving in the right direction again, figuratively and literally!

New tyres fitted and ready to go!

This started as a cheap track project but I checked HowManyLeft in October and again after my car was taxed in December, the numbers for the 924S had dropped by over 20. Somehow I don’t think I’ll have the heart to strip this out. I fear this may become a restoration project.

You can follow Matt here.

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