The result of all of this pain-staking detail work is a stunning car, restored once again to its former glory... quite possibly better than new! The repairs are indetectable; even if you tore the car apart, you wouldn't find evidence that it had been violated. It may have seemed obsessive, but that is the way I like to work. The
Welcome to ...
This '89 Porsche 944S2 is a car that I purchased from a fellow Porsche Club member who had the misfortune to have a dissagreement with a guardrail. I purchased this car with the sole intent of fixing it and selling it for a profit. Unfortunately, the S2 is a great car, and I did too good a job fixing it!
On The Rack !
After carefully sizing up the project, then stripping off components that are in the way, the first step in the reconstruction process is to pull the frame. This brings the old body assembly back into relative position before the damaged areas are sliced off. As you can see, the damage is not that severe. However, it was hit in such a way as to crumple all of the front sheetmetal, and with the price of Porsche parts, it was deemed a "total loss." The photo at right shows the large but fairly "clean" buckle (red arrow) in the left frame rail, and the damage to the surrounding front skirting is also visible. Normally, this level of damage would not necessarily require replacement of these panels, as they are not cosmetically important on most cars. Conversely, it is very difficult to return inner body panels to their original appearance because, as they are
not smoothly stamped or highly finished like exterior panels, they appear "over worked" or "too good" if given careful surface preparation. No matter how hard you try, you just can't replicate that "as is" look, and my goals for any project - particularly a Porsche - are to return the car to an absolutely indetectable state of repair.
The photo at the top of the page shows the car in its most deconstructed state. Since the goal is to make repairs impossible to detect, the photo at near left shows a donor front structural "clip" (red) that will replace the mangled white one. Careful thought should always go into exactly where to make the cut, as a wise choice saves much time and makes for a superior repair. The photo at far left shows the old structure cut away at a point underneath the strut tower "cap." The red arrows
that a frame rail should be replaced in its entirety and never be cut through and spliced in this fashion. In actuality, by employing proper reinforcing techniques ("sleeving" the cut inside with sheetmetal, then not only welding the cut, but drilling and welding up holes on either side of it, called "plug welding"), this area will acutally be stronger than it originally was.
After the used clip was tack-welded in place, all of the exterior panels were installed and checked for fit before final welding. There are also miriad other details to pay attention to, like checking to make sure all of the welded-on brackets, studs, etc., are the same on both clips. Some bracketry did have to be transferred to the "new clip." Once it was welded into place, the welds were finished, the OEM Wurth fenderwell body sealer was re-applied, and then the outer wheel wells were painted.
point to the spot welds (small white dots) that attached the tower cap to the inner wheel well. Since the outside of the wheel well is coated with body sealer, by working under the strut cap flange - half drilling the spot welds and then re-welding the new structure from underneath - there is novisibleevidence that a repair has been made. Even the look of the factory spot welds on the topside of the strut cap (which is impossible to recreate) is maintained. It could have been spliced anywhere, but this is the kind of thought and preparation that makes for the highest quality repair!
The next two photos show the "new" clip fitted and ready for welding in place. Incidentally, you might be tempted to think
Now the tedious work begins; everything must be thoroughly cleaned and sanded in preparation for painting. Then all of the inner fender and hood flanges are "edged" with the proper white paint. The picture at left shows the car with all panels carefully fitted, primed, sanded, edged, and ready for painting. At the factory, these cars have the fenders installed before the wheelwells are Wurth body coated, which seals them completely, and then the body shell is painted with all panels save for the doors installed. I spent a lot of time studying the car to make sure that the original process was followed to give the finished
product that extra measure of originality.
After doing all of the fitting, priming, sanding, caulking, sealing, and edging, it was finally time for painting. After a thorough cleaning and degreasing of the entire car from top to bottom, it was masked. As with many points along the line, a good job of masking a car makes a world of difference in the quality of the final product. The entire underhood and fenderwell areas were masked with special anti-static, anti-dust paper, the drapes wrapped entirely around the car, and the chassis grounded to the spraybooth to reduce static charges. This all took over an hour to complete.
As you can see, I set the car up to be "panel painted," meaning that I was only going to spray the new panels, and not "blend" into the adjacent ones. This presents a big problem because it is very difficult to match a color so closely as to have it be indistinguishable from the old finish in an A-to-B, panel-to-panel comparison. Most painters will set the adjacent panels up to be "color blended," get the color close, do the gradual blend, then clear the entire painted area to seal it down. This car, however, does not have a clear coat finish, and as such, I wanted to assure the finish would be as close to original as possible by only painting the pertinent areas using single stage paint.
And believe it or not, to the discerning eye, clear coat finishes look different than "single stage" finishes. They have extra depth because you are actually looking through the clear at the color. It is subtle, but from a distance can be very noticeable.
On top of that, to do a proper blend - without cheating and simply taping things off, which is never indetectable - means removing all of the trim on the doors, including the real buggaboo... the
Do you have a special car that needs some help? Be it rusty, crunched, or just generally tired, if it is truly worth preserving, and preserving properly, send me an e-mail and let's talk about the possibilities of resurecting it to its former glory.
side moldings, which are urethaned on and virtually impossible to remove without ruining them. At $400+ per side, you can see my thinking here!
After about an hour of tinting and test panel spraying, I felt I had a good color match. Incidentally, although you may be tempted to think otherwise, white is one of the absolute toughest colors to match!
bigger the challenge, the better I like it. It takes an extreme amount of patience and dedication to see a project like this through, but it is worth it in the end.
Honestly, although it sounds somewhat boastful, I did such a good job on this car that, even though I know every detail regarding its resurection, if I factor out that knowledge, I cannot tell it was damaged. I am impressed... and believe me, that is not easy to do, because I can out-fuss anyone! So, as you've guessed, I fell in love with the car and decided to keep it. Oh, the money would have been nice, but I'd never be into one cheaper than this, and when I first drove it, it took about five miles to change my mind. These are great cars!
The car's maiden outing was two days after completion to my Porsche Club Central NY Region's 40th Anniversary Celebration in 1997. No one knew I was bringing the car, and it caused quite a stir when it took the field at the Concours. I am quite proud to say that the car and I won the Overall Anniversary Championship Trophy based on Second place in the Councours (I'm not quite as good at detailing as restoring!), First in Autocross, and Seventh in the Rally out of a total of 40-some participants. The stunning one-of-a-kind Corning Steuben Crystal trophy is proudly displayed in my case along with the Revere Silver bowls for individual events.