So a few months have passed since the first installment on the Projekt 944 build, but a couple of update-worthy things have happened in that time.
First, the car received some long-overdue TLC at the hands of Nick – a passionate weekend detailer who was recommended to me by a friend who owns what is probably Australia’s cleanest E36. After seeing the quality of work done to the E36 and another friend’s Mitsubishi Starion I booked the 944 in as quickly as possible.
This car had some unique challenges due to its age, colour and usage – Nick identified the tar and rubber accumulated from track days, as well as the hazing and sunburn from the harsh Australian sun as two key issues. The car also had picked up some fairly significant swirl marks since the last full detail (which embarassingly was before my ownership!). He uses a nifty tool which indicates paint thickness – allowing him to plan ahead for potential thin paint that might require the detailer to tread lightly. It also reveals any resprayed panels – allowing Nick to correctly identify that the 944 had received a front-end respray.
He described the engine-bay as ‘manky’, which was a pretty accurate observation. However thanks to a good cleaning with a strong all purpose cleaner, blow dry with air compressor and finished up with a specialised dressing to the plastics and rubbers, ‘swanky’ might be a better description now.
What impressed me most was the transformation of the front wheels. Since having the lips replaced with mirror-polished aluminium on the rear wheels, the fronts have looked especially dull in comparison. Nick hit them with a machine polish and a sealant to get them 90% of the way to looking like the rears which I was super impressed with. The wheels spent a significant portion of their lives on a 911 race car and it seems that superhot brake dust has actually burnt and etched into them, which means getting the fronts ‘100%’ will likely require a proper strip down and re-coat.
You can find details on the rest of Nick’s handiwork on the Detail Paradise forums here or contact him on 0439 753 686.
After the detail I took it straight to the Downshift meet at Fairfield showgrounds, where Slownserious Photography snapped this great photo of Projekt 944 in all her post-detailing glory. However thanks to everyone cutting laps in the dirt, within minutes of arriving the car was covered in a layer of Western Sydney dust! Not happy.
The next item was a small one: removing the rear valence. This was a factory option on early Australian 944’s, and it’s probably a 50/50 split between cars that have them or don’t from the ones I see around. From some angles, I felt the valence kind of jarred with the lines of the car. It’s made of fiberglass so weighs practically nothing but any weight saved is a good thing. I reasoned that removing it might also have a small positive effect on drag… but that’s probably just wishful thinking.
Thanks to Dale for volunteering his slender fingers to remove the bolts while I readjusted the central locking actuator on the passenger door (it had been playing up lately). Looking at this piece you might think there would be maybe five or six bolts attaching it to the bumper. I counted thirteen in total by the time we had the piece off – talk about excessive! Maybe I am saving weight after all!
From the side, I think the rear end looks slightly cleaner…
…but from the rear, I’m not completely sold. It’s certainly more ‘purposeful’, but the exposed muffler, exhaust hangers and rear tyre well might take a while to grow on me. It’s also had the effect of making the car look really high from directly behind, which is not cool. I’m going to leave it for a few weeks to see if it grows on me. I’m thinking a happy medium might be the slimline ‘diffuser’ that was offered on the later Turbo cars. What do you guys think?
Another small project was to replace the very tired leather shift boot, worn away over 30 years of spirited drives and sweaty palms. Its peeling leather really made the interior look a bit daggy. This had been on my to-do list for ages, and while researching short-shifters I came across a leather boot manufactured by Only944 in the US for a reasonable price – so I pulled the trigger straight away. I looked at options to replace the shifter knob completely, but none of them looked right and I really enjoy the feel of the stock shifter.
At the same time I bought a new inner-boot as they often require replacing. Upon pulling off the shifter however, it was clear my boot was in tip-top shape, so I decided to leave it on for now and keep the new inner as a spare. Getting the new cover onto the shifter was a bit fiddly and required patience, but nothing too difficult.
So after a bit of fiddling I managed to get the leather evenly wrapped around the knob (the hardest part, it wanted to bunch at the top) and pushed the top gearshift pattern button back in.
Voila! Good as new.
At the same time as ordering the shift boot I ordered this handsome little chunk of metal – a short shift to replace the slightly sloppy and long-throw original piece.
Being a transaxle the gearbox is at the rear, with the shifter sitting on top of the casing and a linkage running to the stick up front. One of the gearbox mounts had to come out but the changeover was super easy. Excuse the dried mud – an off-track excursion at a very wet Wakefield Park is to blame for that!
Out with the old and in with the new! It was a really easy job but (and there’s always a but) I managed to snap the head off one of the bolts when installing the new part and no amount of Macgyvering could get it out. The gearbox feels much tighter and the throw has been shortened considerably (about 30%) but trip to the mechanics is in order before any hard driving.
I’ve been watching a few auctions for 3L 968 engines closely so who knows what Part II will bring…