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The Build up to Now

October 29, 2011

Lets back up a minute and look at what work has been put into building the Spec car to this point. Its easiest to break the build up into stages.

Tear Down- when i bought the car is was a complete running 944 with a half way decent interior and exterior. It ran well but had some leaks and small issues. The important part is to start with a car that has a good chassis, not rusted out, twisted or cursed in some way. (see Rock) 😉

I started by ripping out the interior piece by piece and selling anything i could off on rennlist and other websites. Having a burgundy interior most of this is still in my garage. I did luck out and the car came w/ a nice Recaro drivers seat, leather door panels and console, new speakers and a cd changer which netted a few hundred dollars back towards building the car. Basically everything in the car was removed besides the gauge cluster and part of the wiring harness. I also had to remove the tarpaper insulation that is glued to the floor of the car and inside of the doors and quarters. The best way ive found to do this is by heating a section w/ a torch- a real torch not some crappy propane torch- and then scraping it up. This is followed by tedious hours of scrubbing the floors w/ harsh cleaners like laquer thinner or mineral spirits. Dont use the torch on body panels unless you plan on repainting.

This process took about three weeks- most of this was the removal of the tarpaper.

Rollover preparation– the most important part of your race car is the rollcage. This is going to save your ass if you run out of talent on the track and its also going to determine how comfortable you are in the car. Buy the best you can afford.

I went with the Hanksville Hotrods prefab cage. They offer a basic rollcage with a variety of add ons for extra dough. Their bars are designed and formed using what i can only imagine is a super computer.  I added on the drivers side nascar style bar that extends into the inside of the door, and the knee bar that bends up away from your actual knees. They also offer the X rear bars, ps nascar bars, roof bars, gussets etc. Once the cage arrived i measured and fit the mounting plates to the floor of the car following their instruction manual – very nice color instructions- and welded the plates to the floor. Then i set the bars in place, tac welding each one in the pre-marked locations they drew onto the bars on test fit at their shop. Once the entire cage was fit and i ensured my doors would close and the clearances were ok, i had the windshield removed and went to welding my cage in. Im pretty good w/ a mig welder but you should have a professional or good weld technician weld your cage. Tig welding would be the way to go if possible.

Once the bars were in and permanent, i finished sanding the floors and interior as well as the rollbars. I cleaned and prepped the inside thoroughly and wiped it all down w/ some laquer thinner- or you can use a pre-cleaner or mineral spirits to remove oils and residue. I taped up the body of the car and sprayed the inside w/ eurethane primer , then scuffed this down and sprayed the inside alpine white to match the exterior of the car. My paint uses a clearcoat so two good coats of clearcoat went on afterwards. A few days later i taped up around the bases of the cage and painted my rollcage grey w/ a brush and some chassis coat paint- usually used to paint under the car and coat over rust, this stuff is tough and goes on easy. I would have sprayed the cage but i didnt think i would be able to reach everywhere i needed to.  I decided to spray the floors in front of the seats w/ a spray down bed liner from a rattle can found at autozone. This keeps the floor from scraping up and gives alittle grip to the non-carpeted floor.

A Dash of this-  when it came to what to do with my dash board there were a few options. Most of the spec racers would run the upper portion of the dash and cut the lower off to clear the knee bar. Many of these guys would also remove the padding from the dash to expose the metal frame and then lighten and modify that to fit their needs. Others may buy a fiberglass or carbon fiber premade dash that resembles the original or just make a panel to fit gauges on and run w/ little to no dash at all.

I wanted to retain the original look of my dash but also make it light. Im running the factory gauges for now so they would have to be mounted as well. My idea was to take a stock dash, coat it with a release agent- in this case PAM cooking spray- and cover it w/ a layer of fiberglass cloth and resin. After removing the thin basic shape of a dash from on top of the factory dash, i added several layers of fiberglass matt to the inside to make it rigid and was able to fit the stock gauge cluster surround trim into my new dash and mount it. In order to mount the gauges i welded up brakets that bolted to the cluster and then cut and welded them to the knee bar which now runs just behind the dash center. Once the dash was basically formed and the gauges were mounted, i made up some side brakets for the dash and welded them to the rollcage on each side below the a-pillars. Then i made one final braket that bolts to the tunnel where the center console used to attach and reaches up to the knee bar and is welded on. The center of this braket has a horizontal plate that corresponds w/ the factory a/c controls in a stock car and holds the center of the dash, as well as all of my switches and fire system pull handle. THis way if i remove the dash board, all the electrical controls stay mounted in the car and the dash comes off around them with four screws. After final fitment i sprayed the dash w/ more of the bedliner spray which gives it more of a factory vinyl look and is plenty durable.  The emergency disconnect is mounted on the a-pillar just above the drivers side of the dash board. Final weight of the new dash was 5lbs- just 15lbs less than the stock dash, 2lbs less than most steel factory dash mods.

Suspension-  944spec only allows up to 30mm rear solid torsion bars or 31mm hollow. The front is unlimited spring rate and style but in order to match the rear you are also limited. I opted for the 30mm rear solid bars and 350 lb front coilovers. Luckily my previous track car had alot of bits to dontate to this car, including Koni front struts w/ coilover conversion, camber plates and decent front and rear control arms already painted and w/ new bearings in the rear. I cleaned all this stuff up, added some new poly weltmeister bushings front and rear and installed them on the spec car.  Luckily the turbo/968 struts im using bolt right up to the late 87  n/a spindles but i dont believe they would fit on an earlier car.  By the way, setting rear torsions to the correct ride height is loads of fun. It took me two tries but got it eventually. There is a formula for setting them on the website for reference.

Motor build – engines allowed in the spec class are 83-88 8v 2.5liter engines that are basically stock. According to Porsche the 88 model motor had the most output and compression, making it the most desireable to the spec racer, although there is usually little to no difference in dyno pulls between early and late cars. Most of the hp differences seen are due to the limitations of the rev limiter and or factory computer chips.

I have been chasing a 1988 motor a friend of mine owned for the last ten years or so, ever since he totalled his car. The motor has been hanging on a stand in his garage all this time, but when i told him i needed it for racing and offered him cash, he offered it  up. The motor was torn down to a bare block, given a cleaning and i sent the crank out to the machine shop. There they checked the tolerances and polished the bearing surfaces in preparation for the new bearings. I also had them weld in the oil pan baffles while the motor was down. Inspection of the rings showed they were in great condition so i cleaned the pistons and reinstalled them w/ new rod and main bearings and the polished crank. On went the baffled late pan and the factory head after hand lapping in the valves and installing new valve seals. More spares from my old track car went on such as the powder coated cambox, billet power steering resevoir and brand new power steering pump, alternator drop braket and new power steering lines, turbo radiator and fans. Since i dont have a heater core in the car i eliminated the rear coolant outlet in the back of the head by making a block off plate and i am capping the small inlet in the top of the water pump for the return. This seems to be common in the spec car circles and eliminates the possiblilty of air pockets in a coolant loop or leaks for that matter.The motor as of now is in the car awaiting fuel lines and some new coolant hoses to be ready to start. I should have fired it up by this time next week.


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