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 their pristine original forms. But the idea of finding an older, fun car (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 on Moment Motors in Austin, Texas. I paid my deposit last June, knowing there was a full 12-month queue before they were ready to take your car. I was okay with the 1-year lead time, it gave me room to a) figure out which car I wanted to convert; 2) a few months to go down the rabbit hole and become well-steeped in that specific vehicle’s history; and iii) Oh, and then a few months to find the actual donor car.
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 the comparable era BMW M3s to be more visceral of a drive (especially on a track). Besides, I grew up a fan of big front-engine V8s: Mustangs, Corvettes, Camaros, Chargers, and in later years M5s and M6.
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 a convertible; I kinda accidentally found a cheap Cabrio, which turned out to be a rare-ish car that was too valuable to electrify, so I am renovating it back to factory spec. That’s a story to be saved for another day.
My favorite vehicle search tool is AutoTempest. It’s an Expedia-like site that lets you deeply refine and personalize exactly what you are searching for. My wife’s 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 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 both and 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 and unusual 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 sunroof delete car with a rear wiper, also, unusual options. The prior owner had it for 20 years and had not only garaged her but rebuilt the engine (not sure if it was swapped) and repainted the exterior, adding the more modern teardrop side view mirrors, and 1990s-era bucket sports seats and steering wheel. Carfax showed a minor accident; I am unsure if the doors are original — the paint doesn’t quite match. Oh, and it has 276,000 miles. So far, the Porsche 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 the 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, and cost-tracking 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 2 years) about the same as walking into the local Porsche dealer, finding a nicer middle-of-the-road 911, and saying, I’ll take that one.
Only that would be one of the 1,000s of 911s in a 500-mile radius; this will truly be as one-off, and perhaps the first EV 911 in NYS.
Original pictures after the jump.
Carrera side graphic
Original photos I based my purchase decision on: