Well, congratulations! I received an email in response to our recent article about whether you should save your 944 – “I decided to go ahead and do it!” That is great news – saving another one.
That said, here is a quick list, in order, of the things that you should do. (In other words, the killer stereo is low on the list.) As my Dad would say, “Make it run, then make it look nice.” He was right.
- Engine maintenance is always first. If you are going to drive it more, it needs to stay running. Change the oil, flush the cooling system, check the power steering system fluid and then take the plunge – belts, rollers if needed and water pump while you are there. You will need a special tool for the balance shaft gears, but otherwise anyone with basic metric hand tools and a direct line to Google and YouTube can do these things.
- Got Brakes? Make sure you do. Oh, and the e-brake, too. Don’t drive with bad brakes. And make sure the tires are good, looking for things like cracks and bubbles. Check the date stamped on the side – don’t drive with old tires.
- Make sure the mechanicals are good, including leaks in the fuel system, exhaust system and transaxle. Fix what you can with an eye towards fixing all of it.
- Next do an inventory on what works and what doesn’t work. Mirror switches, air conditioning, horn, lights – the stuff that needs to work. Think of it as a State Inspection making sure that the essentials work properly. Make a list, start knocking them off one at a time.
- Now, and only now do you start thinking about how it looks. Paint and interior are next. It is amazing how much a new coat of paint will make a car feel better. It’s a new suit for your car. The driver’s seat is almost always worn out and/or split. The foam in the bottom is also suspect, so think about replacing that, too.
- Now you can think about a stereo.
Rehabilitate. Revitalize. Restore. Renew. Rebuild. All these words meaning bringing a dead or dying car back to life, making it work again like it was designed.
The sad fact is that our 924S and 944 cars are NOT Tri-Five Chevys or fifties Morgans. They will never attain “classic” levels, and we won’t see an ’84 944 with 320K on the odometer bring 2.1 Million at Barrett-Jackson. But these cars were made to be loved and driven, driven hard, driven at autocrosses and track days, and even in club racing. So make a list, prepare a budget and get to work.
My first Porsche was a ’78 924 – explains a lot, huh? I learned about front engined water cooled Porsches on that car through some 250,000 miles. I changed the clutch on a carport on jack stands. It got engine rebuilds, changed from a four-speed to a five-speed, etc, etc, etc. By the time I moved on, I caught the disease and got more. And more.
If you are not a home mechanic, you can always learn. Google knows everything, and YouTube will show you how to do almost anything on these cars. If you can’t find a video on the repair that you are doing, consider making your own repair video and help others down the road. It’s not hard.
Get to work! It’s waiting for you!
Kevin Duffy is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Daytona State College in Florida and a dedicated car guy. He divides his time between teaching criminal justice topics in the online environment and working on/driving cars, particularly Porsches. Kevin is one of the principals in InspiringLifeOver50.com.