Cars / Sweet Builds / Tech

Plum Crazy? Restoring a Rough 1973 Porsche 911S

At Griot’s Garage, we like cars. Fast cars, elegant cars, cars with style. We also believe in the preservation of cars as important documents of history and culture. Sometimes that job involves a nut-and-bolt restoration, as with the subject of this article, a 1973 Porsche 911S that likely lived most of its life parked next to — not inside — the garage.

Back in the 70’s, when high horsepower V-8 engine cars ruled the streets and race tracks, the 911 was the little car that “did”. These buzz-bombs from Stuttgart braked better, turned better and outperformed cars with twice the engine size. As a kid growing up in the 70’s, the 911S represented to me the best all-around performance car on the street. The “S” model was the sport version of the Porsche 911 line. The engine uses a mechanical fuel injection system and high performance cams to give more power then the standard 911. Improved handling from upgraded sports suspension provided greater road holding ability for fast cornering to blow by those heavy-metal muscle cars. When the road turns left or right the 911S is a kick in the pants to drive.

Our subject car lived life as many sports cars from the 70’s; driven hard and fast. This was a tool, a high performance ratchet in a world full of box end wrenches.

The Starting Point

The first place to start is the body. The car was completely disassembled and the body was sent out for soda blasting. This process uses a low pressure, high volume stream of air with a fine abrasive added to remove paint and surface rust. The process is very gentle, removing very little of the base material plus it lets you see areas of rust and corrosion that may have been covered with body fillers. Now the metal work begins!

To properly correct rust spots you need to replace bad metal with good. Larger panels such as fenders and door skins can be purchased, however smaller panels will need to be fabricated. A replacement piece is formed and welded in place for a proper repair. Patch work on this level requires the skill of a talented metal fabricator.

Here you see two rust holes in the rocker panel. The panel has been removed and the metal inside has been sealed to protect it against rust prior to the replacement panel being welded in place.

After all the replacement metalwork has been performed, the body will be taken to the paint shop for some fine-tuning and finishing work.

Part 2- The Paint Shop

The car was placed on a rotating stand. This is especially helpful when fine metal work is needed or paintwork is being performed. Rotating the car allows easy access to all parts of the body.

A sealer coat is applied to the body to help protect the metal.

Here you can see a dimpled area of the chassis that needs to be repaired. The underside of the chassis floor is marked with tape to show where imperfections need to be corrected.

Here you see a nail gun being used to pull dents. The process uses a special spot welding tool that attaches a small metal rod to a dent. A slide hammer is attached to the rod and the dent is pulled out. The stud is then cut and ground away for a clean surface.

As you see there is a lot of attention given to the underside of the car. This level of detail is what separates good restorations from great ones.

After the metal work is completed, the car is given a primer coat. From here a light coating of body filler may be added to fill any remaining low spots. A guide coat of black paint is added in speckles to help during the block sanding phase.

Block sanding is the process used to level the surface prior to paint. This operation is usually performed by hand. Block sanding can take days or weeks to achieve a perfect surface. During the process the car may need to have additional coats of a special primer/surfacer added to help fill small sanding scratches and other surface imperfections. Once the filling and blocking process is complete, a coat of sealer is applied prior to the color coat. Here the car receives a black sealer coat.

Here you see the car receiving its color coat. Porsche Royal Purple #341 (the original color of the car)! As you can see, applying the color coat is a small step in the entire process. A good paint job requires a lot of preparation, time, and the skill of an experienced craftsperson to do it right. Like many things, it’s all in the prep work. The result is a stunning paint job any car enthusiast can appreciate.

Read the next installment!

13 Comments

  1. I got a chance to see this car earlier in the week and it is pretty far along now. The attention to detail is astounding. Looking forward to the next article!

  2. What a beautiful color, please show us the finished product!

  3. Awesome article! Looking forward to more.

    Out of curiosity – where is this restoration work happening?

  4. Tim Willard says:

    Hello Sean,
    The work is being performed by J&L Fabricating in Puyallup, WA. Check out their web site at http://www.jandlfabricating.com

  5. Just thought you might like to know that “kunstharzlack” translates to ‘synthetic varnish,’ or as I like to say, “paint!”

  6. Can’t wait to see Barney rolling down the street!

  7. 914forme says:

    Love the paint color, and super nice resto and attention to detail.

  8. Alex Ford says:

    Porsche is so iconic and so many of them are being made into tribute cars or being used as donor cars. That classic Early 911 cut off line in 1973. I’m doing a similar restoration on a 1974 Base 911 in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. It will not be concours. It’s a restoration. Original color: Vipergruen.

  9. Tim! More on this car please!

  10. Yes what a sweet car / project.

    Just got the new Griotsgarage Catalog. The text on the inside cover states; “the 2.4 liter engine featured mechanical fuel injection and 295 horsepower in a car weighing only 2300 lbs.

    Well, the 1973 911 S with MFI were / rea rated at 195 hp not 295 hp

    Still wish it were mine.

    S

  11. Glenn Wilder says:

    I am finishing up similar work on my ’64 356C. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will have it back within the week, if the money holds out! I would not advise anyone to spend the amount of money this type of work costs if you want to have a daily driver.

  12. legitClever says:

    NASA Astronaut Took Pictures Of Race Tracks from Space With A Nikon DSLR https://www.theinforadar.com/2019/05/nasa-astronaut-took-pictures-of-race.html

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