My 1980 Porsche 924 Turbo restoration has made great progress since I reset my work schedule and committed to spending the weekends working on my own projects rather than sitting behind a laptop. My bank account is slightly less happy about the restoration, but payback will come in due course.
I’ve now clocked up a couple of hundred hours on this car, and poked around most of it. While there is unsurprising evidence of parking dents and other traumas from its former life in Italy, underneath all that it’s a really great example, especially now I have reconditioned most of the moving parts fixed to the bodywork. Dropping all the mechanicals to do a full restoration is very tempting, but I must resist.
Retaining Porsche Patina in Detailed Restoration
Perhaps the most engaging part of the rebuild after the 924 Turbo’s bodywork was so nicely stripped, prepared and repainted by my old friend Rob Campbell at Racing Restorations has been deciding what to keep and what to ditch, in hope of retaining some patina and original character to compliment the delightful new paint.
For example, none of the locks matched, so I junked all of them, pulled the smoothest ignition barrel out of my stash of 924 & 944 parts and then bought a full set of VW tumblers and rebuilt and rekeyed every lock on the car to match. This led to stripping the latch mechanisms and locks, new door seals, new hatch seals – you know how it goes.
The dash was a mass of old alarm wiring and leftover radio installations so all that got junked. The black speedo trim ring was rusty for whatever reason, so I tossed that and stripped another speedo to find one in better condition. That led to stripping all the clocks and cleaning the dials and glass faces so they all look great now.
Porsche 924 Turbo Strip & Rebuild
Everywhere I look on the 924 Turbo now, I see bit that have been stripped and rebuilt. I stripped the electric window regulators including the motors and sorted all those out, bench testing them before refitting to the car. I haven’t done anything about the wiper motors yet but I bet it happens. Having all of the trim out of the inside meant I could clean it up properly and Dynamat quite a bit, so the doors now shut with that satisfying clunk and none of the rattles that used to soundtrack entry and exit.
Having junked so much stuff, I also found a few bits I wanted to keep. The Italian plates are back on the car, just because I love them. I riveted the rear plate together, which is not strictly correct but it means bits of it can’t get stolen! I tossed the LED-infested centre console gauge surround and bought another mint one in black, but kept the slightly crappy cigarette lighter from my old one, as a well-used cigarette lighter in an 1980s Porsche is just so Italian, darling.
I fitted a replacement glass hatch with a good condition spoiler (the original was utterly ruined) and polished all the original glass, refitting it in a mix of new and good used seals. I liked the Italian anti-theft alarm window sticker so I kept that. Under the driver’s seat carpet, I found a 200 Lira coin from 1978, so that is now the keyring. I kept the original dog-leg gearlever but replaced the shift boot and sent the ratty steering wheel off to be restitched – I hope they can retain the original leather. I have a nice three-spoke for the car if not. I ordered a full gear linkage rebuild kit from AutoAtlanta in the US, but that has not yet arrived.
I fitted new rear speakers (long story) and decided not to cut the original front door panels to fit another pair of speakers – the rather spartan black vinyl has survived this long without cutting and deserves to be left alone. I stuck a centre speaker back in the dash to add some noise up front. I decided not to change the cracked dash: you can get new ones but 924 owners are generally well used to cracked dashboards. The original rear view mirror is a non-dipping version and I’m slightly on the fence about keeping or saving. I have a pair of dipping ones with the glass mounts in my stash so I may change that.
Original seat belts are in good condition so still in place: they were likely never used in Sardinia! The car is quite low mileage anyway, so they are fine. Refitted the original roof aerial as, while it is not the shiniest thing ever, it is perfect for the 924. I fitted a new rubber trim to the rear bumper (just squeezed into the Polo in the massive tube it ships in from Porsche) and new seals on the door mirror, door handles and boot lock.
I rebuilt the front bumper light clusters: you’d be surprised how long that took. One indicator reflector was completely rusted out so I stripped the reflector off another one and plastic welded it back together (the fun of playing with £5 parts). I cleaned and refitted the Italian side repeaters as, while they are not very attractive, they are original to the car. Stripped the window switches, sorted them out. All very satisfying. I have been keeping things as tidy as possible, but you’ll see from the photos that it needs a lot of cleaning when it is eventually back together: I am quite looking forward to that.
Classic Porsche Build Quality in spades
So many hours later, with many more left to invest, I continue to have great respect for classic Porsche build quality with the 924. The way it’s built is inspiring to work on when you’re not in a rush; so much intricate detail signposts the hours of highly skilled labour it must have taken to build each one. The assembly is very like my old E28 BMWs and Mk 2 Golf GTis: plated screws and high quality metal clips everywhere. It is time consuming to make things better – stripping the fusebox and wiring out to clean up the corroded earth points behind for example – but once done, you get the feeling it will last forever.
I feel sure I will buy another 924 to work on once this one is sold and I have cleared out a few more cars. The Signal Green 1977 924 we saw at Essen a few years ago is still very strong in my memory – that’s the sort of old-school 924 I would like to do some miles in if Turbo prices have soared out of reach. Small but modern 1.4 engine transplant, little Turbo, careful gearbox build, classic trim.