Old Green Car

(As told by Keith W. Martin, Published in the Blau Rain, January 2014)

I was 19 and it was 1973 when I found the green car in the weeds.  In the first six months of owning the car, I almost cut off the fenders.  I’m not sure why that didn’t happen, but I guess I came to my senses!

image001In 1974, I rebuilt the engine and put it in a plastic bag.  The plastic bag rotted off three times, over the years.  Three years ago, I disassembled the engine again, to replace the 40 year old rubber seals.

I managed to keep the disassembled car complete with one notable exception.  I had a new fiberglass front spoiler bumper from a “S” and I remember putting the old, original one out for the trash.  I purchased several used bumpers and ended up using pieces from three, welding them together before I was happy with the fitment.

While the care was in storage at my father’s garage, I had it outside, when a thunderstorm blew down a large tree.  It fell on top of the car but the arched limbs covered the car without putting a scratch on it.

In 1988 there was an article about America’s oldest living 911 in the September Panorama.  The writer pondered the 25th anniversary of the 911 and I was pictured with the car.   At that time, I still had the roll bar tack welded in the stripped interior.  I had fender flares taped on the side with marks for cutting.  I remember almost cutting the torch.  I can’t tell you why I didn’t.

Not too long ago, I was unpacking the original carburetors.  They were wrapped in newspaper and in a cardboard box.  The headline on the newspaper red, “Nixon Resigns”.

Life happens and the car was left untouched for many years.  Wanda was always asking, “What are you going to do with that rusted piece of junk?”  Several years ago, as we approached the 50th anniversary of the 911, I found myself with what I hadn’t had earlier in my life…the time, talent, and money to give ole 182 the restoration she deserved.

I began the restoration by making a large steel structure to hold the chassis, while the chassis repair was done.  I enlisted an old friend, Greg Crandall, to help with the metal work and body fit.  He endured countless hours of me looking over his shoulder saying, “Just a little more”.

After one incredibly, painful false start with a painter, I had to start over.  The not to be mentioned person did so much damage to the body of the car I could not look at it without raising my blood pressure to an unhealthy level.  My second attempt to find a master painter was successful.  I hesitate to tell you his name because I have another project waiting for him and if he gets well known, he will be swamped.  John Campbell completed the paint job behind his house, in a homemade paint booth.  He put his heart and soul in it and it shows.  Thank goodness there are still a few people who genuinely have pride in their work!  As the old saying goes, “It’s the Indian, not the arrow” that makes the difference!

The car came back from being painted in the spring of 2013.  I had made a commitment to myself to show the car in November at Hilton Head.  With six months to the show, I went to work.  At 120 days, I started to count down on a post-it on my office door.  With only a short break in September, I stayed on task and had the car running and driving in September.

Another local automotive artist, Freddie King, left his business for several days and came to mine to put his personal touch on the interior.  When you get a chance, take a look at the detail of the headliner and carpet installation.  Beautiful, thanks to Freddie!

On an early Sunday morning in October, I took the car around the neighborhood for its first drive and yes, I was nervous.  Years ago, I had the chance to visit the factory in Stutgart.  I remember the tour guide saying the most sought after job was the test drivers of the cars when they come off the assembly line.  Since then, I have wondered what the first mile would feel like and I can tell you that it felt or more importantly, sounded great.  The same sensations I felt and heard as a 12 year old getting my first ride in a Porsche had returned and then some!

I reset the odometer to “0” miles and watched as the first mile, second mile, and third mile ticked off.  It ran, shifted, sounded, braked, and turned just like a new 50 year old automotive icon should…beautifully!

keithFortunately, we were invited to show the car in the “featured marque (Porsche) historical display”.  While dusting the car the morning of the concours, out of the clear blue sky, a rather large, unhappy bird bombed the roof.  The neighboring contestants all said that was a sign of good luck.  I guess were correct because I am pleased to say that we were judged to be Best in Class!

The car I pulled from the weeds forty years ago is one of approximately fifty surviving 1964 911’s.  It’s rare enough the factory is looking worldwide for one to add to the museum.  Who knows?  Maybe I can help them with that problem!  What I am sure of is the old green car will likely out live us all.


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