After the dismantling and the straightening bench: the 1973 911 T is ready for the paint removal bath
The straightening bench doesn't lie. Its judgment carries a great deal of weight. The original Porsche bench, a massive steel framework that was developed in the 1960s for aligning the body of the 911 (F model), still reveals every millimetre of deviation from the vehicle's original form. And what the specialists suspected when they initially inspected the vehicle was confirmed: The 1973 911 T had suffered accident damage to the front left side - probably a souvenir from its long gone motor sport days.
"Revive the Passion" brings a lot to light. The campaign that was jointly organised by Porsche Club of America (PCA), Porsche Club Service and Porsche Classic is progressing at top speed. At the Porsche Classic workshop near Stuttgart, restoration work has begun on the 911 T, which will be raffled off among PCA members and publicly presented to the public at the Porsche Parade in the USA in August 2011. Those involved found the right vehicle over the Internet - in Los Angeles. Abandoned, somewhat neglected, but still fundamentally in good shape.
Porsche Classic used trusted transport partners to organise the 911's journey to its former home. The 911 travelled by truck to New York, via St. Charles, Illinois, where the classic vehicle was presented to PCA members at this year's Porsche Parade. From New York it was shipped to Rotterdam - in a standard single 20-foot container. The coveted collector's item finally reached Stuttgart in a closed truck. In Stuttgart, it will be professionally and thoroughly restored to its original condition. Strictly speaking, it will be better than it ever was.
But it will be a long, hard road to get there, and one that the experienced specialists will need meticulous attention to detail, skill and original tools only available at Porsche to negotiate. In order to get to the bodyshell, they first used an angle grinder and a pneumatic saw to remove all the parts that didn’t belong on an original narrow-bodied 911 T. They had to remove the front wings, the rear side panels, the engine cover with its homemade spoiler, the oversized front spoiler and the luggage compartment lid which originated from a later 911 model. The American racing rims with oversize tyres were also axed by the strict Porsche specialists. After removing the axles, chassis, engine/transmission, wire harness and everything that was still in its place from the interior, the first part of the dismantling process was finished. A clear view of the bodyshell was the first cause of laughter: In Los Angeles, birds had obviously made themselves at home in the underbody guard of the 911.
The kink in the front end, only visible to experts and a sure sign of a crash, resulted in the following measurements on the straightening bench: ten millimetres too high at the front left, double wishbone deformed by nine millimetres at the rear and twelve millimetres at the front. To achieve the highest possible accuracy when returning the body to its original shape, the mechanic didn't rely on the straightening bench alone. A rigid original frame gauge, which allows for no movement of the body, was used for the windscreen. Then, a chain was used to hydraulically place the body under tension. The rest requires the delicate craftsmanship of an experienced mechanic. Some of the mechanics in the Classic Workshop worked on the 911 production line in the 1970's and know the vehicle type inside and out.
Only once the above operations were completed could the rust-ridden floorpan be cut out. After all, according to Jochen Bader, manager of the Porsche Classic workshop, a vehicle body can only be correctly aligned if it still has all its intrinsic strength. As a final step in preparation for the paint removal bath, all of the body cavities had to be opened. This operation is crucial to the long-term future durability of the this gem-to-be. Because this is the only way to ensure that the paint remover reaches every nook and cranny. And it’s the only way that the neutralising bath used to rinse off the caustic solution can clean every millimetre.
Preparation is now complete. The bodyshell of the 911 T has shed all its ballast and is ready to take a bath. The specialists continue with their work. They will now turn their attention to the transmission.