About 18 months ago, I became intrigued with the concept of electrifying an older car. I have a few oldies in the garage (Cars like this, this, this, and this) and those will remain in original factory spec. But the idea of finding an older, fun car from the 1960s-80s in good cosmetic shape — but with questionable mechanical underpinnings — and then modernizing it with an electric drivetrain fascinates me.
After a bit of research, I decided I would go with Moment Motors in Austin, Texas. I paid my deposit last June, knowing there was a full 12-month queue before they would be ready to take your car. I was okay with a 1-year lead time because it gave me room to a) Figure out which car (and model year) I wanted to convert; 2) Allowed me to spend a few months going down the rabbit hole to become well-steeped in that specific marquee’s history; and iii) Spend a few months finding the actual donor vehicle.
Ultimately, I decided on an ‘80s-era Porsche 911. An unexpected choice from someone who was never much of a Porschephile; (Why? Cause their engines are in the wrong place!) I’ve always found late 1990s/2000s era BMW M3s to be more visceral of a drive (especially on a track) than the comparable 911. Besides, I grew up a fan of big front-engine V8s: Mustangs, Corvettes, Camaros, Chargers, and in later years M5s and M6s.
My research led me to become more and more intrigued by the 911’s history. Light, nimble sports cars were mostly a rarity in the USA, at least when I was a kid, but the 911 was tossable, reliable, and relatively quick. They quickly became beloved by enthusiasts here.
I dove into the research on various models: Carreras, G50s, Targas, Cabrios, and the nomenclature of 991, 993, 997, etc. I decided I wanted a Coupe (but didn’t love the shape of the Targa). I was not looking for an open air car but I kinda/accidentally found a cheap Cabrio, which turned out to be a rare-ish car that was too valuable to electrify; that M491 is being renovated back to factory spec. That’s a story to be saved for another day.
I hunted for a vehicle using my favorite search tool: AutoTempest. It’s an Expedia-like search engine that lets you deeply refine and personalize exactly what you are seeking. My wife’s CPO E-hybrid 4S in Amethyst Metallic over Chalk — that was the exact spec — would have been impossible to find without it.
I decided on the 1984-89 G50 Carrera. Very retro, relatively inexpensive (as far as Porsches go), with literally 100s up for sale. Look at enough of them and you can start to see what has good paint quality, what was well-maintained, where rust shows up, what needs work, etc. The more of them you look at, the better off you are. I didn’t want to do a six-figure, frame-off restoration — half of that cost was the engine/transmission. My plan: Yank out the flat-6 and tranny to sell them to defray the total expense of the project.
Priorities were based on expected costs of repairs:
1. Exterior: Needed to be nice, with clean paint. Note that a full glass out paint job is $25-30k. And a good, rust-free body
2. Mechanicals: I didn’t care about Engine/tranny but was concerned with suspension, brakes, and steering
3. Interior: Was the least of my concerns, as a full redo – seats, dash and carpet = $5-7k.
I bid on numerous cars — the graphic at right is about a 10th of my bid history. I often came in 2nd, or sometimes I won an auction but the reserve price was not met. One of the fun things about Bring A Trailer, Cars & Bids, and PCAR is that you can see your own bidding history; there were literally dozens of cars I tried to buy within my budget.
Then I met this lovely 1987 G50. A bit unusual and not often seen was the color: Lagoon Green Metallic (which as you can see reads closer to blue). It was also a sunroof delete car with a rear wiper, both also unusual options. The prior owner had it for almost 20 years; not only had he kept her garaged, but he rebuilt the engine (not sure when), repainted the exterior, adding the more modern teardrop side view mirrors, and latter era (1990s?) bucket sports seats and steering wheel. Carfax showed a minor accident; I am unsure if the doors are still original — the paint doesn’t quite match. Oh, and it has over 276,000 miles.
So far, the crazies don’t seem to care if I do a heart transplant on this one.
Again, high bidder RNM, but the seller in Connecticut is motivated, and everybody is happy with split the difference/final sale price of $59k.
The car arrives and is even nicer than the photos suggested. The crew at Werks1 replaces brake lines, tires, and lots of little electrical items, fixes the rust spot behind the battery (a known bad spot), and generally gives her a clean bill of health.
Next up: Cosmetic work. I detail and ceramic coat the exterior, shampoo carpets, replace interior floor mats, and then bring her to Autostrada187, where Chris’ team does a marvelous job adding Carrera script to the sides and double racing stripes right down the middle in a lovely soft creamy white aluminum. She looks just fantastic!
In a few weeks, she goes to Austin to be electrified.
I’ll include an update when that happens, with photos, tracking the costs along the way. A place in the United Kingdom (with a shop in Calabasas, CA.) called Everrati does these frame-off for a total cost of about $295k. I am looking to spend a fraction of that.
By the time this is done, I expect it will have cost (over the 2 years) about the same as walking into the local Porsche dealer, finding a nicer middle-of-the-road new 911, and saying, I’ll take that one.
Only that one would be one of the 1,000s of 911s in a 500-mile radius; this one will truly be a one-off, perhaps the first EV 911 in NYS.
Original pictures after the jump…
Carrera side graphic
Original photos I based my purchase decision on: