HOW I ENDED UP WITH #27 VIA A MUCH HATED OLD MERCEDES..
In the last years I’d been mainly riding motorbikes but getting older seems to have brought with it an unwelcome sense of mortality. Inevitably this was accompanied by a growing realisation that I was taking some really silly risks on two wheels. Along with increasing back problems this prompted me to move back to cars. So what car could possibly live up to the thrill offered by a Ducati V-twin? Initially I wanted a mid seventies 2.7 911 but that was top end of my budget a little out of reach. I found a few cars with a “glorious patina” but this seemed to be mostly code for disintegrating sills and floors so rusty they were almost absent altogether! While looking I came across a few Mercedes 107 SLs and saw they were incredibly cheap. Tragically, as it turns out, I then talked myself into the notion that an SL might be a viable option... I found a sand colored 380SL, listened to the V8 burble, convinced myself that it was a nice “70s” shade and made a snap purchase. I bought it without a PPI, despite all the advice I had previously received. Predictably, as soon as I started getting familiar with the car I discovered hidden rust. This and other issues kept me “entertained” but after a year, having got the car in good shape I actually started driving it and realised it was just awful, way too dull for me. It was like driving around in a magnolia marshmallow. Locking it in gear and smoking the rears on tight roundabouts was not enough to save it. In keeping with the rest of the ownership experience I then sold (this now much cleaner) SL at a considerable loss.
I started looking at air-cooled 911s again, both the 80s 3.2s and the 964s but eventually settled on the latter as a more complete package while still maintaining the 911 silhouette. My budget was however again at the bottom end of the scale so when I saw this car, a Carrera 4, advertised as a previous Cat D write off I looked at it as way to get a solid car for a good price. It had some desirable mods, including a cup pipe, 100 cell cat, chip, lowered springs and the RS clutch kit. The seller had a picture of the accident damage, which was minor, a small rear three quarters shunt.
I love everything about this car, what a contrast to the SL!! There is nothing quite like an air-cooled 911. The car is so small, feels like it is hewn from granite and the view from the driver's seat is really unique. It has an inviting 911 musk and I swear you can still see the beetle origins in the shape of the screen and the tiny cabin. A few chosen modifications, including a change to Bilstein Sport dampers and aggressive geo have banished the on the limit understeer so now #27 also drives like a proper 911.
Why the name: Why “Number 27” I hear you ask? Well, I’ve been looking for a name for the car since I’ve owned it but never quite found anything I liked. Seeing as the Porsche colour of the car is Cobalt Blue I looked up Cobalt to see if there were any interesting associations.. it turns out that as a chemical Cobalt has an atomic number of 27. I thought this might work well and decided to go with it, ironically as you will see later.., but I have stuck with it! The Philosophy behind the mods I enjoy a tinker so most of the work has been carried out by me, except for the engine rebuild that was done at Redtek. I'm a huge believer in low weight and also decided to see what I could do in that respect. I don’t want to make this into a race car, so the idea is to loose unnecessary weight without making the car too uncomfortable. For this reason I've not removed the sound deadening but have still managed to loose a fair chunk so far. Last time it was weighed the car came in at 1302 Kgs with a quarter of a tank of petrol. Porsche declared 1475 Kgs for the C4 (with a full tank?) so pretty good so far.. but I would like to do more. From what I can remember so far this is what has been removed or modified:
- Spare wheel and compressor (replaced with a can)
- All gas struts for bonnet and engine lid removed
- Steel bonnet replaced with carbon
- Bypass pipe to replace Cat
- Frunk Carpet removed
- Lightweight RS carpet(minus rear seats and belts)
- Lightweight RS Door cards (with bespoke ribbing)
- Lightweight RS Door cards (with bespoke ribbing)
- Rear Wiper removed
- Radio and speakers removed
- Engine under tray removed
- Lightweight RS Flywheel
- Rear blower delete
- Main Washer bottle and motor delete
- Lightweight fibreglass engine tinware
- Fibreglass propshaft cover
With the new Work Meister wheels and a ducktail (for lower weight) it will also eventually have a slightly retro flavour but still being recognisably a 964 without going the full backdate route.
Engine: #27 has a primary bypass pipe and a 100 cell cat. Been to Redtek for a rebuild, including big ends and a cup cam with Nick’s spec of chip. Should be putting out towards 300 BHP at the flywheel:
Chassis: H&R Greens and Bilstein B6 shocks. H&R adjustable anti roll bars, currently only the rear fitted with standard 964 front, to help with C4 under steer. Car has also been set up with aggressive geo for the same reason. Strut brace fitted. RS Engine mounts Body: Carbon Bonnet, RS Style Brake cooling ducts, soon to be converted from decorative to fully functional. Clear indicators. Crooked 964 smile that needs fixing Interior: Grey RS Carpet set, RS Door cards with Blue door pulls, Momo Mod 7 with Blue stitching. Linen seats dyed black. RS style battery cut out. Centre console and hand brake dyed black, new gearshift gaiter.
New RS interior a bit of a puzzle but more sombre black and dark grey:
Coming up.. Part 2 will feature the next stage in the car’s development. #27 is currently undergoing a full repaint with some choice modifications and featuring further weight reduction! Controversially there is also going to be a colour change.. Here is a small taster of what is to come.. Click here for Part II
Words & Pictures: Jack Pegoraro