In late 2006 my passion for Porsche that had been kindled by owning a boxster lead me to search for a 911. In February 2007 I found a lovely, well used 964 carrera 2 coupe in GP white and embarked on a new adventure. This running report is about my 964 that would be used for high days, holidays and track days and be a 'project car'. It wouldn't matter if it spent time waiting for things to be fixed as it wouldn't be used as a daily driver.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

First Trackday (May 07)

I had taken the boxster on track twice and had really caught the but. The first trackday for the 964 was an evening session at Bedford autodrome organised by

It was absolutely brilliant fun! The track was wet but not soaking yet the car performed superbly. I was astonished at the amount of grip it has for an old design. Never got close to a spin all evening . The instructor was equally impressed with its levels of grip and commented so. It was in its element coming out of fast corners as it was just a simple case of giving it loads of throttle and gently winding off the lock. Fantastic grip and balance. However, first time out (and being wet) I was braking early to ensure I had a sensible entry speed and I had some concerns about the ABS (didn't cut in consistently). No doubt I'll get more confident in it as time goes on.

The only worrying moment of the night was when blue smoke started pouring out of the engine bay after the first hard session . This was simply down to me topping up the oil a bit much that morning. Once it had spat out what it didn't need (which dripped onto the exhaust) all was fine - phew!

Paintwork Restoration (May 07)

Although the car has had a full respray at some point in its past. It clearly didn't get washed and waxed very often. This resulted in an orange 'bloom' in the paintwork. Panel by panel, I removed the bloom with a gentle cutting fluid (GP white is a pretty hard paint so there's no worry of scratching it) and followed this up with an initial coat of wax. As you can see from the pics below, water is now beading nicely on the surface.

Airbox and Wing Mirrors (May 07)

A long weekend gave me lots of time to work on the car.

First off was the simple job of replacing the taped up airbox cover (this had been a temporary fix to the big hole that had been cut in the side to get more intake noise) with a new one that I recently bought off a 964RS owner.

I also decided to fit a new battery (75 Ah Bosch Silver costing £75) since the current one was over 5 years old.

The next job was to get the wing mirrors operating. Replacing the big 'flag' mirrors with the more aesthetic (and lighter) 'teardrop' mirrors is a popular upgrade for 964s. These mirrors can be hard to get hold of and regularly go for more than £250 a pair on flea bay. The previous owner had already bought and fitted the teardrops but being somewhat DIY challenged, he had not been able to wire them up. This was quite evident when I remove the mirrors and found that the wires had simply been cut through and taped together with masking tape!

In order to wire up the teardrops it's necessary to cut off the wiring plug and join everything up with bullet crimps. The pic below shows the new and old mirrors (these came with the car), the plug I had to cut off the teardrops and the male bullet crimps on the teardrop. They are now working as they should be.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Health Check and Alignment (Apr 07)

This week (end of April 07) the car had its first trip to my local Indy for a brake fluid change, wheel alignment and general health check. The brake fluid was mostly because the last 'official' record was 6 years ago. As it turned out there were no problems and Jason guessed that it had been changed more recently than the record due to its condition and that the bleed nipples were fine (apparently they seize up if the fluid doesn't get changed regularly.

The wheel alignment was a different matter. It was well out! In particular the toe-in was 10 mm out from the book settings. With this remedied the car already feels less nervous at the front, tracks better on uneven road surfaces and is much more flat under heavy braking. For anyone interested in the technicalities of wheel alignment I found the site below very good at explaining how the alignment affects a cars behaviour on the road;

Apart from some very minor issues (which I was aware of and will be attending to), Jason gave the car the thumbs up and reckoned I'd found a good 'un.

Of course I still had to spend the weekend doing stuff on the car myself (it's an obsession now). This included:

1. Fitting a new rear wiper blade
2. Painting the hats on the front discs. These are new Zimmermans that were fitted just before I bought the car and had already started to rust badly and looked very unsightly. A bit of elbow grease to remove the rust and some black heat resistent paint has made them look so much better.
3. The wheels, particularly the rears, were badly kerbed due to the car spending the previous two years on the streets of London. Again some elbow grease and some silver touch up paint has made them look a lot more respectable.

After only 2 months of ownership I've just totted up that I've already spent £1,642 on the car (mostly parts). But I don't regret a penny because of the enjoyment it is giving me.

964 vs Boxster (Apr 07)

The bumper scrape incident has been pushed to the back of my mind because yesterday I chose to drive the 964 the long way to work (twisty road) and today did the same drive in the boxster. A sort of mini test to see how they faired against each other.

First the 964.

Now that I'm getting used to its charms I'm a lot more confident in it's abilities. It's a beautiful car to balance on the throttle round long sweeping bends. Feed in a bit more throttle and you can feel the nose push wide. Back off a little and you can tighten its line at the end of the bend before giving it some right foot welly onto the straight. The best gear on this twisty road was undoubtly second, fabulous for belting out the other side of a tight corner and a wonderful overtaking gear. I came across a couple of cars tootling down the lane travelling well below the NSL. Each time it was; check the road was clear, move out, indicate, clutch in, big throttle blip whilst slamming her down to second, clutch out, back on the throttle, feel the back of the car hunker down and roar past the plodder whilst pulling 6,000+ rpm on the tacho . In an instant I'm back on the left side of the road and grabbing 3rd gear as she hits 70 mph (before slowing back down).

The other part of the car's charm is its ability to shock and surprise you. Hit a bump or depression at speed (especially one that affects only one side of the car) and your either airborn for a millisecond or one tyre finds more grip than the other. For a very brief moment the steering goes very light as though you're no longer in control . But before you know it the obstacle has been traversed and everything's connected to the road again. At first I was un-nerved by these mini heart stoppers but now I just accept them as part of the drama of driving this car and realise that you have to hold it by the scruff of its neck and make it behave.

Second the Boxster.

I used to think the boxster is easy to drive and after having the 964 I now know it is easy to drive. Through the same bends I could carry quite a bit more speed and just point it round them on steady throttle. In the box you can feel all four wheels gripping (especially the front) as you hug the inside of the bend. It's not as quick out the other side and therefore would lose ground on the '64 but if it had been in front it would have already been well away because of that extra cornering ability .

Over the same bumps and dips the boxster remained flat and un-flustered by the road surface. No drama. Never makes you anxious. I could just focus on the road ahead and let the superb chassis soak up anything that the surface threw at it. The box is a lot quieter than the 964 so doesn't always feel as fast but a quick glance at the speedo and I soon realised that was an illusion because it was going very quickly indeed! Quite possibly quicker overall than the previous day when I was in the other one. And definitely the one I would choose to get down that road as fast as possible if a life depended on it.


Over the same road in almost identical conditions both cars delivered pure driving enjoyment in different ways. I would liken the boxster to a thorough-bred that you point, coax and carress and the 964 to a wild stallion that you hang on to and use liberal doses of a whip to make it obey your commands.

Minor Repairs and an incident! (Apr 07)

I took it comparatively easy this weekend and decided to finally getting round to fitting the new fan belts that I got a while ago. The current ones were well past their sell by date and with a few trips planned for the car recently I didn't want to get stranded out on the road with a broken belt or two . There's a belt for the alternator (like any other car) and a belt for the big air cooling fan . It took about an hour to do because you have to fire the engine up and check the tension and then add or remove shims to get this right.

The second small job was to replace a cracked foglight. Here the whole unit has to be replaced (you can't buy the lense separately). These are pretty expensive for what they are but luckily my OPC was selling off old stock last week and I picked one up for less than half price! It took just a few minutes to fit.

I'd rather not report the next bit . At the moment I'm gradually going over the whole body work with a mild cutting/polish cream to remove the 'orange bloom' that has built up due to previous neglect (i.e. the car has not been washed or waxed properly). Last week I did the front bumper to point that it was gleaming . Today, on a drive out, some twunt did this to it in a car park!

The Exhaust System (Apr 07)

Another busy weekend with the 964 saw me removing the noisy G-pipe and replacing it with a standard final silencer. The new silencer was sourced from Porsch-apart for a third of the price that a new one would cost (£150 versus £450).

Fitting was fairly straight forward. It just took a couple of attempts to get the olive between the pre-silencer outlet and the inlet to the final silencer to seal nicely. The car is a lot more refined now at tick over and low revs and is both track and neighbour friendly in the noise stakes.

From what I've picked up the G-pipe does not give any bhp gains but saves a lot of weight compared to the standard silencer (about 10 kilos but don't quote me on that). The main reason people put a G-pipe on is for the aural pleasure it gives. Today on a long test drive since putting on the standard silencer, there was no perceptable difference in performance IMO.

Again, from what I've read about 964 exhausts, the silencers are very free flowing. It's the cat that has the greatest restrictions. Putting on a cat bypass can liberate a few more bhp.

There are quite a few combinations you can play with on the 964 because of there being a cat, pre-silencer and final silencer. These can all be replaced with a cat-bypass, cup pipe and G-pipe as appropriate.

From what I've gleaned from Rennlist; the standard set up (which I now have) is about 92 dba, change one component and you'll be between 97 and 100 dba, change two components and you'll be between 105 and 108 dba and if you change all three there will be blood coming out of your ears

BTW, all these meausurements are the standard 0.5 metres static test at 4,000 revs.

I didn't want to risk being on the limit on trackdays and having to start short shifting and the like to keep the noise down. And didn't want to annoy the neighbours too much . A happy side effect of putting a standard silencer on is that the overall balance/stability of the car seems a whole lot better. I guess that the silencer on the right is balancing the weight of the cat on the left (just how Porsche meant it to be).

I've stored the G-pipe for now in case I want to play with exhaust mods later. At the moment my future preference is to remove the heavy pre-silencer and put on a cup pipe. This will introduce a bit more growl (but should be below the magic 100 dba) but more importantly remove a chunk of weight from the car.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Fitted a tacho with an OBC (Mar 07)

The job at the end of March was an upgrade. A tachometer off a turbo came up on ebay and I managed to win the bid with a few seconds left. Anyway, unlike my existing tacho, this version has the OBC display. Whipping the old tacho out was a 15 minute job and the new one slotted and plugged straight in (the wiring harness already had the alternative plug and I already had the control stalk from replacing the indicator stalk unit).

The 964 OBC is very basic compared to newer Porsches but at least I now have a very useful digital speed display in the tacho. However, it was only once I turned it on that it was a KPH version (they don't in built switch-ability) but it's still very useful since the speedometer is always obscured by the steering wheel once over 70 mph!

Work on the rear brakes (Mar 07)

Soon the brake pad warning light came on so one weekend's job was to put new rear pads and discs on the back (the history file indicated that the discs were getting on for 70,000 miles!).

To say that the job was a pig is a bit of an understatement. I decided to be ultra safe and put the car on axles stands. This necessitates jacking up the car under the engine. But before you can do this it's necessary to remove the undertray to ensure you don't put the jack through an oil pipe. With very little ground clearance under a porsche it's a very frustrating and time consuming job. With that done the car could be jacked up and then dropped onto the stands:

Getting badly corroded discs off is no piece of cake either especially when the handbrake shoes are binding on the inside of the disc hub because they hadn't been adjusted properly in their previous life! However once off, I gave the wheel hub and the calipers a good cleaning and adjusted the handbrake shoes so that they had a nice clearance. This meant that the new discs slid on very nicely. The new discs are the Sebro version which come already painted in grey primer. I sprayed the hat rims with high temperature black paint but left the face of the hat grey as it is hidden by the wheel.

The final pain in the ass is the need to grind down the sides of the new brake pads - over time the corrosion in the calipers 'lifts' the spring plates so new pads stick in the calipers. Changing the spring plates is a very frustrating job and can be very expensive if you get it wrong so the general consensus is to just adjust the pads so they fit.

Since I had the car on stands I finished the weekend off by fitting a rear bumper support bar (they rust away over time) and I took the opportunity to wash down the underside of the engine to clean away some of the old oil. If you're worried about the RMS leaking on a boxster, don't bother with a 964 - they are notorious for leaking oil. In my case most of the oil was clearly old from previous leaks that had been fixed. I thought I'd clean them away to make it easy spot any new ones when they occur.

p.s. Discs, pads and sensors came to a shade over £150.

Problems with the indicators (Mar 07)

The first job at home was to rip out out the old indicator stalk mechanism (I had to hold up the stalk when indicating to go right) and put on a new one. Amazingly even though the car has been out of production for some 15 years, I was still able to order a new assembly. Just had to wait a few days for it to be shipped over from Porsche-land. Even though it was £192, I thought it was better to get new rather than buy an old used one that might not last long.

Owing to the lack of an airbag, disassembly of the steering wheel was straight forward and the new stalk mechanism installed very easily. I had to modify the plastic cowling because I bought the 3 stalk model which will operate the OBC when I get round to hacking into the dash wiring to get it up and running (this option wasn't ordered when the car was new).

So now I can safely turn right without the worry of someone ploughing into the back of me because they thought I'd cancelled the indicator on purpose!

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Collection and first pics at home (Feb 07)

The first job I had to do was to replace the engine lid release cable which had snapped when I viewed the car for the first time. So on the morning of purchase I fitted the cable outside the vendors flat, took it for another test drive and then handed over the payment to him . I then drove the car home. A 250 mile journey and it didn't miss a beat.

First Photos (Feb 07)

Here are the very first photos of the car that were taken when I bought and rescued it from the streets of London. This was the culmination of around 4 months of looking for the right car. I'd looked at dozens of adverts in that time, read everything I could about the 964, got loads of advice from the PCGB 964 register and looked at two other examples (which I rejected). One of the photos shows my very tired Mrs clutching the 100+ point checklist that I filled in before deciding to buy it.