Three Years with the 911 SC
This was originally posted in September, 2019
September 23, 2016
It began with an impulsive, snipe bid on eBay with about 2 minutes left. I had run an AutoCheck report (VINs before 1981 predate CarFax), which looked relatively encouraging, and thought ‘what the hell, why not.’ In the moment, I honestly believed I was simply moving the price $100 higher for someone else. Surely the high bidder had set a higher maximum bid. I was wrong. I was the highest bidder.
But there was still time! I’ve lost enough auctions in the closing moments before — so many that I was fully expecting a bittersweet defeat. The clock ticked down the final minute, with my eBay username still right there next to the words High Bidder. The page refreshed, and a new page with the headline “Congratulations!” appeared (the website was decidedly more enthusiastic than I was).
I had been searching for a while and was ready to buy, in theory. I was prepared to spend this amount of money on a hypothetical car, but it took a minute to set it that I had Won and was now Buying This Car. The deed was done. My adventure was just beginning. It was 2:40 PM on a Monday. Within a few minutes, I was speaking with Tony about the logistics of payment and shipping from Cleveland, Ohio. Tony was a total pro, and had done a ton of these transactions, so I felt like it was in good hands. By Friday, the car arrived in front of my house on a trailer.
I called my friend Chris Nguyen and we met up at our favorite coffee shop. We had been talking about buying these cars for the last 6 months, and now they were here, within 2 days of one another — his new-to-him, well-vetted Porsche Cayman, and my 911 SC with 80,000 miles and at least as many question marks. I got in, fired it up, acclimated to the controls a little, and set off, and it all kinda worked like it should. I found out later that the tires were 15 years old (they were mounted so the time code stampings were on the inside of the wheel rims), so in retrospect, I was being ambitious.
The Early Months
Everything pretty much worked. Within about a month I was grounded by a dumb hot start issue that ended up being the warm-up regulator and some vacuum hoses. I immediately changed the fluids and removed out the fog lights to give it a cleaner front valence. Over the next few months, I mounted rear wheel spacers to fill out the fenders a little more, upgraded the AC system (because Houston), put in a Momo Prototipo, replaced the tires, added a J-West Rennshift shifter to tame the 915 gearbox, replaced the weird rubber antenna one with a factory one, and did about 50 other small tweaks. I drove it every day, and made trips to Austin pretty regularly without hesitation. I treated it like a normal car, and it obliged, mostly.
Removing the Whale Tail
The Turbo tail was cool but didn’t factor into my long-term plan for the car. It wasn’t original to the car (records show it was installed in the 1990s), and to my eye, it lessened the impact of the rear fender flares. I took the tail off, only to discover that the area under the tail had been painted black (so you wouldn’t see the white decklid through the grill mesh). I bought a clean Guards Red deck lid, which I ran for just a week or two as-is, before having it painted, along with the headlight rings in the front.
Aston Martin Vulcans at COTA
I was hired to shoot customer Vulcans at Circuit of the Americas for Aston Martin. Being able to drive all around the restricted areas of the track and photo access roads was more of a thrill than driving on the circuit would have been!
The Hill Country Rallye is an annual event in central Texas that brings together 100-200+ air-cooled Porsches (pre-1989) for two days of fast driving and hanging out. I’ve learned so much about these cars and met so many great people that this event is at the top of my list every year.
The Martini Stripes
I came back from the Hill Country Rallye energized, but conflicted. I had been working hard towards a super-clean, tail-free Grand Prix White 911 SC. After spending three days around amazing air-cooled Porsches in every color in the rainbow, I knew my idealized SC — which I was so close to! — would never stand out. Did I need it to stand out? I wanted it to stand out a little.
I had seen images of the M42 Martini stripe option 911s and 930s, and was aware of the kit, but always thought it might be too flashy. But I came back from the Hill Country willing to give it a chance, after all, only a white car can really pull this off, so it seemed like a unique opportunity. If I hated it, I could peel the stickers off. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, and now I couldn’t imagine going back.
Hurricane Harvey struck Houston in August, 2017. We were worried about the storm (and the tendency of our street to flood) so my wife and I moved our cars to a five-story parking garage and left them there for a week. This turned out to be a wise move when my house flooded on August 27. We moved out of the house for nine months, during which time we lived with my wife’s sister and her husband — they not only gave us the guest room in their house, but they even let me park my 911 in the garage, for which I am eternally grateful.
2018: Odds & Ends, and Preparation
With the addition of the Martini stripes the previous summer, I had ‘finished’ most of what I wanted to do with the SC. It was just in time, as I spent much of 2018 focused on rebuilding our house. I enjoyed the car and finished up a few things, mechanical and cosmetic.
I wrote about why you maybe shoudnt’t go camping at COTA
Rennsport Road Trip
in 2015, my dad and I went to Rennsport Reunion V at Laguna Seca. The event, which occurs every 3 or every 4 years, is unmatched when it comes to bringing together Porsche road and race cars from all eras. I vowed that we would drive to the next one, and despite buying the tickets a full year in advance, it crept up on me.
Rennsport Reunion VI took place in September, 2018. We left Houston on Monday, September 24, and took three days to reach LA. We did the final leg with from Santa Clarita, CA to Monterey with about 200 other Porsches, as part of the MOMO Road to Rennsport rally. The days were long, but surprisingly comfortable, and the car did just fine.
Some highlights from my Rennsport gallery on Road & Track
Monterey back to Los Angeles
I didn’t drive directly home from Monterey. Instead, with my friend Chris Perkins and a representative from Porsche, we went to LA, driving and photographing the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid and Porsche’s own 918 Spyder. Over two days we experiences some sensational roads and even better views. Chris put the experience into words over on Road & Track, with my photos. Andrew from Porsche was our 918 chaperone, and he was happy to oblige whatever ideas we had, including driving out to the middle of the desert in Lancaster to catch the sunset. While framing a photo of the 918 & Panamera together, Andrew and Chris insisted I include the SC in one of the photos. This was really special, and perfect memento from an unforgettable couple of days.
My 911SC had performed dutifully up to this point, now 9 days and 2,500 miles into the road trip, with frequent stops and startups for photos and driver changes during our 2-day drive to LA.
Los Angeles back to Houston
I stayed with my friends Jeff & Sara in Culver City for a couple days, and then was joined by Will Pierce for the drive home. After a four-hour drive to Palm Springs in stop and go traffic, the car refused to start. After a few hours, it started up just fine, but it freaked me out, and I kind of rushed the last few days of the trip, fearing a failure might hit somewhere more remote (it’ didn't). We still managed to see the Pima Air & Space Museum, the Penske Collection, and White Sands, NM, so it wasn’t entirely driving straight through.
We made overnight stops in Palm Springs, Tuscon, and Alamogordo, before driving straight through all of Texas on one grueling 800-mile day. The trip totaled 5,200 miles (exactly!), and I hit 100,000 miles on the odometer just outside of Houston.