PCA Southeast Michigan Region

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Ryan Pettypool’s 1976 912E

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Ryan Pettypool’s 1976 912EI have always had a fondness for all Porsche cars since I was a little boy. I remember back then that this was the car I wanted to have when I got older and more financially prepared. I used to go to Barnes and Noble and find any publication or Auto Trader type magazine that could teach me something new I didn’t know about Porsche cars.This fascination became a sickness; when I would see a Porsche on the road I would roll down my window just to hear the engine.I stayed attached to this dream through the teens until I reached my late twenties and found the right car at the right price. I saw an ad in the auto trader online in Phoenix for a 1976 Porsche 912E. I did not know that much about this model and even after reading all the books out there on Porsche cars this one was never mentioned. I gave the gentleman a call and he was asking only 5,000 dollars for an almost rust free unrestored example. He explained to me that he had purchased the car with the plan to convert it into a 3.6-liter club racer and had lost interest after figuring the cost. He was a Porsche certified mechanic and seemed to be honest, so I made an offer of $3,000. We settled on $3,500 plus shipping charges.

I received the car in fall of 2002. When I first saw it, it looked just like a 1976 911S minus the 2.7 and had a 2.0 4 cylinder 914 type engine. My thoughts were “all right cool, an economical version of a 911 with the maintenance cost of a Volkswagen Bus”.

For those of you not familiar with the 1976 912E, I will give you a little Porsche history. The 912E, internally designated at the factory as the Type 923, appeared for one model year only primarily in the United States, as the companion to the 911S. There were only 2,099 made that one year and only 500 with a sunroof. In 1976 rising fuel prices and lowered U.S. speed limits helped make the 912E a practical model.

Production of the 914/4 had just ended, and the water-cooled four-cylinder 924s had not yet arrived. The 912E was powered by the 2.0-liter fuel injected 914-derived engine, and was offered in the 911-coupe body style (by one account two 912E Targas were produced). Options included electric sunroof, limited slip, and air conditioning.

With its 21 U.S. gallon fuel tank and fuel-efficient engine, the 912E’s driving range may be the best of any Porsche ever made, 600+ miles. The 2099th and final 912E constructed also became the last air-cooled four-cylinder car produced by Porsche.

Well with that history lesson behind us, I will get into the nitty gritty of the story. I got in the car and immediately fell in love. I drove the car for a few weeks and loved every minute of it. It handled like a 911 but had the power of a finely tuned 914. I was initially pleased with the performance.

The exterior had a few blemishes on the paint and right below the rear window seal was a small rust bubble. Well, I definitely could not have a rust spot on my Porsche, so I started sanding. The bare spot got larger and larger until I decided to have the car media blasted down to bare metal. Then came the disassemble, everything came off the car, fenders, doors, hood, rear lid and even windshield wipers. This small rust spot sure turned into a large project.

I guess when you look at your prized possession you think to yourself “well, that new paint sure won’t go well with old rubber moldings and those new moldings won’t go well with that old headliner,’ and the story goes on. What I started as a small rust bubble repair turned into a mild restoration. I guess the old story of “plan to spend at least your purchase price twice on a used
Porsche” is true after all.

When I received the car back from the media blaster I primed it and started applying filler to the small dings and imperfections. After sanding, sanding and more sanding the car was ready for paint. I called my good friends Charlie Alam and Sam Bashir at VIP Auto body\Advanced Autosports in Farmington Hills and had the car painted with a fresh coat of guard’s red. At this point
everything went back together with a new headliner, new rubber, new everything. I sat back and looked at the car and thought, “finally I have the Porsche I have always dreamed of”.

I have had the car now almost three years and still love looking at it. There is something about Porsche cars that captivates me and after all these years. I still can’t get enough. Art is timeless and to me these cars are truly a work of art.