A Downtown Barnfind: 914 (Part 1)

2y ago


I had been hunting for a project car for some time. I sold my D2 Audi S8 and picked up an old Jeep for a daily driver/winter/tow vehicle and all that was left was to get something old and fun. I had always had a soft spot for Porsche so was looking at the 914/924/944s because that is what my budget allowed. I actually had a few 944's lined up that all fell through. This 914 popped up on Craigslist around midnight on a Thursday, I saw it around 6:15am while brushing my teeth and I messaged the seller immediately. Deposit put down on it sight unseen (you'll see why) and arranged to meet that evening to exchange the title for some cash.

So the car... It was a California car and the owner brought it up to Minneapolis in the 80's. He daily drove it for several years, always storing it in the winter. One year his brother got in a fender bender, bashed up the front bumper a bit and the drivers side fender. After that he kept it in the garage, starting it occasionally, and then one day just stopped. That was over 20 years ago.

Sitting in the middle of this run down garage in downtown Minneapolis

That evening I went to look at it. It was surreal, it was EXACTLY like a "barnfind" in the Forza Horizon video games. There was some some small talk while we walked up to the garage, he unlocked the door and lifted it. And there, sitting in the middle of this run down garage in downtown Minneapolis and coated with a dim light from a bulb as old as the car, was this dust and dirt covered 914 with a dent or two and chewed up interior. I was living the dream. I gave it a look over, about 30 seconds worth, then we went inside and we exchanged the title for the cash and made the plan to tow it home.

The jeep made it about 2 blocks with the Porsche on the flatbed before it became evident that AAA would be a better choice.

Friday I went and got it, tucked it away in my garage, and spent the next couple days crawling all over it figuring out what I've gotten myself into.

So, why did I essentially buy a car from 1971 that is notoriously good at rusting out in the most important places? Well, first, the ad mentioned a bit of it's history, the whole garaged/California part. Second, the ad mentioned that the targa top can be removed and put into place with no binding, indicating strong sheetmetal on the frame. Third, $1,100. Yes, eleven hundred US dollars. Stupid cheap. Stupid stupid cheap. I knew that if the frame was too far gone I could part it out and come out ahead. Or weld up a bunch of it and make a rat with wide fenders. Fortunately for me, it gets even better.

Upon inspection, the usual suspects for rust were all intact. There was some surface rust, and some pitting, but all of it solid. The car also came with a boot full of spare parts and records.

Tucked away in my garage at home, I was able to really see what I was in for.

Of the flaws, the interior was easily the worst offender. You can see that parts of the seat was gnawed away by either a family of rodents or a rabid toddler. Whichever it was, they decided to urinate on the carpet as well. I guess they didn't get to go to Disney.

Judging by the chew marks, I'd estimate this rabid toddler to be between 2 and 4.

I decided to start this rehabilitation with the interior work. I felt like once this was done, it would always be a tangible thing to look at when I was further along in the project and running out of steam. I was able to connect with a local Porsche 914 owner who had been dismantling and collecting parts for what seems like centuries, he had most of what I needed. I also frequented 914rubber.com to purchase several odds and ends, and renownusa.com for my steering wheel. Oddly enough the carpet set was purchased from eBay, with great quality and a cheap price too... what a strange world.

Major improvement over the car as delivered. Stay away toddlers.

In place of the 8-track player, I put a pair of Heuer stopwatches and my audio is a single 3.5mm input and a volume knob.

In the following months I went through a couple sets of wheels, pulled the engine and transmission, the entire fuel system, the entire brake system, and rebuilt just about everything. I'll be going into more detail as time progresses, so stay tuned.

New Love food? Try foodtribe.