Buying California Porsche 911 SC from UK

My ‘new’ old 911 has finally been dropped to my buddy in San Francisco who will hang on to it until Mr Lipman and I get back out to California in September. Good to get an objective opinion on condition and some recent photographs of the car. Sounds like I did another nice Porsche deal, so I’m grateful to both seller and my mate for helping me out long-distance.

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I was told it had an oil leak and some trans woes and this has been confirmed by my wonderful amigo. Here’s what he says:

“Initial impression is, as you said, you can’t lose. Paint is rough, sure. But seems solid and runs great. I mean really runs good, I was surprised, frankly. The motor just zings, no funny business at idle, or mid range or at 5k, which is as far as I took it. I couldn’t get the engine lid open to poke inside, but I’m sure it has some leaks, there was a bit of hot oil smell. We’ll find out about all that. But it really runs good. Rides good, no weirdness to the ride or steering, brakes seem fine too.

The only thing is something with the clutch, which is more like an on/off switch than a clutch. Is fully engaged about two inches off the floor, and is very heavy. Once or twice it seemed to stick as it was released. But no judder, and nothing weird from the back end, so my gut feel is rather than anything with the clutch itself or flywheel, it’s all under the floorboard with cable and adjustment and helper spring. Or lack thereof. No graunching from the gears, but you have to be quite slow and deliberate when going in gear, especially one and two. So, hopefully, rather than anything really in the gearbox with synchros or clutch itself, it’s all under the floorboards. You do get sort of used to it after a few minutes, and can proceed fairly normally from stop lights, but your left leg would be very tired after a day’s driving with the way it is at the moment.

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But man, it runs good. Those 3.0’s are just great motors. And a lot of other things aren’t bad at all, like the dash pad is perfect. Windows work well too, which is handy. Seats aren’t bad for support, tach or speedo needle doesn’t wiggle, it’s still a good German car in a lot of ways. Stereo doesn’t work (so he says), clock doesn’t work, drivers arm rest and door pocket are missing. Headliner is a little saggy around the sunroof. But good bones. And that’s with California frame of reference. Hell, if you painted it and fixed the dents and redid the wheels and freshened up the interior, it would probably be a show winning SC in Europe. Great car for the money, and great candidate for a backdate hot rod. Did I mention it runs good? It really runs good. More later.”

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I am delighted with this quick warts-n-all report. It shows that when you have been buying cars for 20 years, much of it for a living, you can still sniff out a bargain from just a few lines of text and some 6 year-old pics. I’m glad to hear it makes good power. The Euro-spec rebuild through SSIs should give it about 220 bhp, which is loads in a fairly light SC.

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The oil lines and thermostat are fairly recent so I doubt it is leaking there. There is a spot of oil under the car in the first pic – if that is from mine, then it looks centre to left side so maybe a return tube or similar, or just a connection. It’s done few miles since a full rebuild so doubt it is anything serious like a case leak (which would be dead centre), but if it is then no problem. Could even be a leak from up top travelling down and dripping off the bottom.

Sounds to me like the clutch has maybe had it which again is OK and was factored in. I’ll get a kit and sort that out with a new cable too. Might even get it whizzed over to the local top Porsche shop and have them do it for me. Then myself and Jamie can have twelve days of SC fun before shipping home a reliable daily-ish driver.

Come on!

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