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nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) New Reader
2/21/21 4:09 p.m.

There's a bunch of snow on the ground here in the Boston area and my garage is full of the stuff that we had to clear out of the basement to make an "at home" school set-up for the kid, so I did the only sensible thing - bought a non-running 1979 Porsche 924 that had been "sitting outside for many years under cover" sight-unseen at an auction in North Carolina (the same auction where I spotted this one-of-a-kind Eldorado "shooting brake").

The car arrived yesterday:

Met the delivery driver at a nearby highway rest area (no way his 45-ft enclosed 5th wheel trailer would be able to get anywhere near my house) and transferred the car to my rental rig. Thanks to Vic from Midnight Movers for getting the car to me and helping me load it onto my trailer - the wheels didn't roll when he picked up the car in North Carolina, but the 750-mile trailer ride must have freed them up as I was able to use a come-along and several tie-down straps to get the car loaded up.

Enlisted my wife's MINI Cooper Countryman as an anchor and drafted the kid to run the come-along to unload the thing at home

Had some time today to do a first assessment and move the Porsche to a slightly more convenient location in the driveway.

The Good:

It's all about the tweed:

The silver exterior seems an unlikely combination with a tan interior, but I believe it is the original color

Then there's the reverse-sweep tach, and dogleg 5 spd:

Underside is really clean. I also didn't find much, if any, evidence of critters - no piles of droppings, or mouse nests anywhere.

I found a note in the car that said it ran when it was "stored" 11 years ago and that is has 18,000 "actual" miles. The expired registration I found in the glove box confirms the 11-year parked story. Odometer shows just over 18K miles, but it's only 5 digits, so who knows. There's no oily gunk built-up around the engine, so it could be true. Not much wear on the pedals, either.

The Bad

  • The tires are junk and don't hold air (no-name "steel-belted radials")
  • No battery, so I couldn't test the functionality of any electrical component
  • No brake fluid, or coolant in it (systems would need to be flushed/replaced anyway)
  • Somebody tied a nylon cord around one of the tie rods (maybe to move it?), and messed it up. Other side is tight.
  • Driver's door hinge is completely broken, so the door neither opens (without falling off), or closes properly. Passenger door hinge is also a bit wonky - binds-up when you try to close it.
  • The passenger seat has a tear in the lovely tweed

  • There is some sketchy wiring repair under the hood, air intake hoses are falling apart, and somebody was messing with something under the dash and with the defroster/vent piping

The Ugly

  • Here's the gas cap and fuel filler

  • Notice the spark plugs (3 of them anyway) sitting along the fender - somebody must have pulled them before "storing" the car

I put a socket on the crank pulley with a big breaker bar and couldn't budge the engine (it has oil in it). My guess is that the block is rusted solid from years of sitting "open" (I once pulled an MGB out of barn in NH that sat un-driven for over 30 years, but was still sealed up and turned over easily) - 11 years with no plugs will likely turn a motor to slag.

  • I may have discovered several new species of mold in the interior from it sitting under cover with the windows down (and the doors not sealing correctly). Passenger carpet is very damp.

Now What?

  • I need to get a syringe-thingy to inject some Marvel Mystery oil into the cylinders to see if there's any hope of freeing up the engine - it's too tight in there to get my usual squirty bottle in there (maybe WD-40 instead?). I may also get a cheap borescope to take a peek into the cylinders to see if it's even worthwhile. Maybe pull the head?
  • If the engine is hopeless, I may try to rebuild it - I've done all sorts of other work on cars, but never an engine re-build. Could be a good learning experience
  • Maybe a swap? Find another 924 mill? Early 2000s VW 1.8t perhaps (to keep it in the family)? I believe the 924 transaxle isn't stout enough for anything TOO crazy..
  • Any other suggestions?
white_fly HalfDork
2/21/21 5:58 p.m.

I don't have a whole lot to add besides congratulations. The tweed is outstanding, obviously. 

In terms of a build direction, I quite like the 924 Carrera GT, but the narrow body is really pretty and absolutely CRYING for a decent wheel and tire package.

TED_fiestaHP HalfDork
2/21/21 6:00 p.m.

That car looks really nice, but could end up being a lot of work.  But it could be a lot of fun work, when finished should be a fun little car.

   Not sure about options for the engine, these were a tad under powered, so might consider ways to add at least a little more power.  I think a few were converted to twin side draft carbs.

NOT A TA SuperDork
2/21/21 6:26 p.m.

I had a very similar looking '77 with manual trans but a  black interior. Have fun with it!


nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) New Reader
2/24/21 2:33 p.m.

Found the driver's door issue... Top hinge, door check strap (broken), bottom hinge (ripped out).


Based on what I've seen on 924board.org, it's not an unheard of issue. The door check on the passenger side is binding up, too. My guess is that it was binding up on the driver's side as well, and somebody gave the door a hefty shove, breaking the strap and ripping out the hinge. The top hinge is showing some fatigue, too, probably from carrying the extra weight, so I'll likely give it a zap, or two, from the MIG when I fix the bottom hinge.

My borescope should be arriving in the next couple of days so I can get a look inside the engine...


Stefan (Forum Supporter)
Stefan (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
2/24/21 3:16 p.m.

Kinda how I bought my 79 924 project.  Except I was able to drive it home from Bellingham to Portland (with no alternator and water up to the sills).  Welcome to the insanity!  I looove the dogleg box.  The car looks great and I suspect those miles are pretty accurate (the ODO gears have a tendency to break).

For engine rebuilding, main bearings and some other internal engine parts are getting hard to impossible to find.  So make sure you can get those before you get too deep into it.  There's a few vendors in Europe that are starting to recreate some of these parts, so that helps.  There is a company that makes OE matching cloth for the seats.

Luckily (or unluckily), no one really wants 924 NA engines, so there's always some around with low miles because people give up on fixing the stuck CIS or the bad electrical connections (often after they hack the crap out of it).  They are also hell for stout (there were diesel versions of this engine) so they rarely actually break down except for valve train problems due to oiling issues, etc.  If yours is fragged, you can likely snag a spare for free or nearly so if you look around.

The sticky bit is that early 924 gas tanks are NLA.  With some work a 924S or 944 tank should fit, but the tank mount is different.  They are larger though, so that's a nice bonus.

Quite a lot of parts are shared or upgraded for use on the 924S and 944, so that helps when diving into the project.  I changed to 4-wheel discs from an early 944 on mine which really helped.  Plus it had already been modified with fiberglass CGT/944 quarters, so that made that process a bit easier.

There's been a few Audi 20V swaps and since the engine in the 924 shares bellhousing patterns with the early 5-cylinders used in the 100LS and similar, it makes sense.  It isn't a direct swap, but its as close are you're going to get.  There are a number of people who are using the VW 1.8T as a modern successor.

I put MegaSquirt EFI on mine and it was my reliable daily for a good bit.  I threw way too many changes at it though so it was a PITA to tune from scratch.  It was also more or less a race car with a stripped interior and STIFF suspension so it was miserable to drive most of the time.  I want to put it back to something I can drive in with the kids, so that's going to be a bit of work to do.

If you can free up the engine (and I suspect you might be able to), the engine desperately needs more compression ratio, but that requires a change in pistons as the combustion chamber is in the top of the piston.  Adding a turbo or supercharger would dynamically raise the compression quite nicely.  BAE used to make a turbo kit for the 924 NA and they pop-up from time to time and are a period piece to add to a resto-mod project.  Another option is euro pistons or having Diamond or JE make you some forged ones.  DCOE conversion kits are available from Pierce, but that just makes a lot of noise with not a lot of gain on an otherwise stock engine (up the compression and have the head ported and you'll enjoy the webers a bit more).

nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) New Reader
2/26/21 1:16 p.m.

New toy arrived so I can take a look inside the engine

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08R39P7TS/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 (and I got a 30% discount coupon)

Cylinder #1 looks a little crusty

Going to try to loosen things up anyway (injecting a little Marvel Mystery Oil into the cylinders)

Started to remove the one good hinge on the driver's door - one Allen-head bolt came out easily, the other stripped... Going to try slotting the head with a Dremel tool and just use a big screwdriver to remove it. 

nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) New Reader
2/26/21 3:15 p.m.

Got the driver's door off, so now I can see what I'm dealing with. Crank windows and no door speakers, so no wires in the door - the factory wiring hole should give me some access behind the repair site to at least spray some rust preventative after welding the hinge back in place. Don't know if it's worth pulling the fender off - I don't think there's any access to the back-side of that area.

Not the prettiest welds on the back-side of the hinge, but they proved to be stronger that the surrounding metal!


nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) New Reader
2/28/21 8:01 p.m.

Public Service Announcement - Please remember to wear your eye protection, kids! A nothing, 2-minute slice-into-the-top-of-a-bolt with a Dremel tool resulted in a trip to the Mass Eye and Ear ER today to remove a "metallic foreign object" from my left eye.  An unlucky bounce, for sure, but let's stay safe out there, no matter how small the job...

Loweguy5 (Forum Supporter)
Loweguy5 (Forum Supporter) Reader
2/28/21 9:03 p.m.

Yikes!  I am a stickler about always wearing eye protection but one day I was laying under one of my junks pounding on something and I got a big metal chuck in my eye.  I was able to irrigate it out but boy was I worried.

Now I randomly walk around the house in safety goggles...

Mr_Asa UltraDork
2/28/21 9:16 p.m.

Lot of promise in that thing!

I love the reverse tach

MrRobogoat (Forum Supporter)
MrRobogoat (Forum Supporter) New Reader
3/1/21 2:49 a.m.

In reply to nlevine (Forum Supporter) :

Been there done that! The medical PA was very calm about the whole thing. Even if you get the bit out, rust in your eye is no joke either. I wear glasses, which precludes a lot of the cheaper eye protection, and glasses on their own are definitely not enough. Chemistry goggles are good for working under rusty cars, for spinny wheels I always try to have a full face shield. If a grinder wheel explodes, I'd rather just not have *any* of it in my face, or neck.

Also, the tweed interior is really cool! Looking forward to seeing the progress. Also, I didn't realize those boroscopes had gotten that cheap, I'll have to find a need for one soon...

nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) New Reader
3/1/21 6:06 a.m.

In reply to MrRobogoat (Forum Supporter) :

I wear glasses, too, which does give one a false sense of security some times. You never know how that errant bit will bounce...

nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) New Reader
3/7/21 4:38 p.m.

Did some more digging into the 924 -

  • Loosened the drive belt to see if either the alternator, or water pump could be stuck. Unfortunately, they both spin, so the week of Marvel Mystery oil soaking in the cylinders didn't seem to do much, and I'm likely going to be pulling the engine (I needed an excuse to get an engine hoist)
  • Took the nasty-looking bra off the front end and confirmed my suspicion that the car has been tagged pretty good on the RF corner:

LF has the correct turn signal

The previous owner didn't try too hard on the RF.

In addition, the alternator pulley is a little bent, and a couple of fins are missing from it, the A/C condenser looks a little smushed (belt for the A/C compressor is not present), and there seem to be some booger-welds holding the front tow hook on. Also, lots of orange-peel in the paint on the hood. I also think the clearance between the right side of the engine and the strut tower is a little tight, so I wouldn't be surprised if there's more bent sheet metal, or suspension. 

  • Hooked up a battery to test "gross" electrical function
    • The annoying stuff works (key and door warning buzzers)
    • Ventilation fan works
    • Gauges appear to have power, dash warning lights come on
    • Turn signals kind of want to work (dash indicator lights up, but no flashing - likely bad bulbs and/or flasher boxes - too cold to diagnose today)
    • Headlights looked like they wanted to pop up at first, then didn't - need to check fuse, linkages, etc
    • Starter wanted to engage, but isn't going to do much with a stuck engine
    • Radio does not work

Time to think about engine shopping - easy button is to find another 2.0 NA engine, but that's still a lot of work for 100hp. Given the body history, I have no qualms about making modifications, so I need to do some research about other options and decide whether I want a restored 924, or a 924-shaped something else...

GM > MG New Reader
3/12/21 7:48 p.m.

Love the 924's. I looked at several 924 before I found my MG. Most of them were in similar shape as yours. I was kicking around a 2.2 Ecotec (Supercharged or Turbo)and a 6 speed with a Thunderbird IRS center section with LSD ...

nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) New Reader
3/12/21 10:46 p.m.

Registered the car - I think the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has set some sort of goal for me:

Now I just need to figure out what lap I'm being timed on...

I learned a few things about the registration process, too:

  1. Mass. law says that you need to pay sales tax on a car purchased out of state within 30 days of it entering the state. If I had waited until the was actually running before I registered it, I would have been on the hook for a ton of late payment penalties and interest.
  2. For a "casual" (non-dealer) sale, if the car has a clear title, they get to charge you sales tax based on the NADA "clean" value, regardless of purchase price, or actual vehicle condition. Suffice it to say that I've spent ~2x the purchase price of the vehicle in transportation fees and sales tax.
  3. My town has a by-law that says you can't have an unregistered car hanging around for more than 30 days. It doesn't say anything about a registered, non-running car hanging around, though. Put it on a Hagerty insurance policy, which is really cheap. I'd make out well if the car accidentally rolled off a cliff right now.
nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) New Reader
3/12/21 10:58 p.m.

Testing out that 50/50 weight distribution...

nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) New Reader
3/20/21 9:44 p.m.

Started-in on disassembly in order to get ready to pull the engine. Pulled the air intake, fuel distributor, and radiator.

Not happy with all that plastic delamination ahead of the fuel distributor, and the little bit of fuel that dribbled out of the injector lines definitely smelled more like varnish than gasoline.

I'm no body guy, but this doesn't look like a "factory authorized" repair of the frame rail to me:

Looks like the car took a pretty good hit at some point, and the repair job was indifferent at best - paint is peeling off of the tops of seemingly un-prepped replacement quarter panels, there is some random wiring (the wires pictured above sort of make their way to the turn, signals, but first they were wrapped around the air intake and secured with electrical tape), and a few bits of cracked plastic and missing mounts.

The air box has a hole in it as well - the coolant expansion tank mounts to the side of the air box and ripped a chunk out of the box, likely during whatever event caused the other damage.

I did find $0.66 under the shifter trim, so it wasn't all bad news today... 

Next steps: remove the AC compressor, disconnect the exhaust down-pipe, and unbolt the torque tube and clutch linkage and I should be able to get the engine out.

nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) New Reader
3/25/21 8:21 p.m.

Just a quick pull-the-center-console-to-troubleshoot-the-radio-while-waiting-for-door-parts thing this afternoon... Good thing I like jigsaw puzzles. Gotta love brittle 40-year old plastic.

nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) New Reader
3/25/21 9:51 p.m.

But at least the clock seems to work (and cast-off laptop power supplies make great 12V bench supplies for testing electronics).

nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) New Reader
4/8/21 10:20 p.m.

Slow progress on the Porsche while I wait for my engine hoist to arrive, so I thought I'd do some more interior assessment (and try not to break anything else).

Passenger-side floor was very wet when I got the car. I managed to dry out the foot-well with a shop vac and sunshine, but wanted to pull the seat to dry out the floors completely. One seat track was rusted pretty good, but after some creative hammer applications I was able to move the seat enough to unbolt it.

It was as expected - filthy - but I found another $0.11 under the seat that can go back into the car fund

The floor was surprisingly clean under the carpet even with all the moisture that had been trapped on top of it for who-knows how many years

nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) New Reader
5/17/21 3:20 p.m.

So, this happened:

The boom wasn't long enough to pull it from the front, so I had to pluck it out from the side. Next step is to get it on the engine stand and tear it down to see where it's stuck.

Ended up taking the whole front cross-member out (clearance is pretty tight to the oil pan anyway), and noticed that the bottom of it is a little banged-up, so that will need to be beat back in place and re-welded. 

So much room for activities!

Still impressed with how easy every nut and bolt has been to remove (the beauty of this not having been a New England car), except for the steering rack. Try as I might, I haven't been able to get the coupler to release - the nut is loosened, I've soaked it down with PB Blaster, and I've tried prying open the collar. The rack was supposed to come out with the front cross-member.

I don't have a torch, but may need to add it to the arsenal to get some heat into the thing.

In interior news, found that the radio does work (just a blown fuse) - needs a light-bulb replaced and maybe a little work on the cassette mechanism, but it does pull-in radio stations.


Stefan (Forum Supporter)
Stefan (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/17/21 3:38 p.m.

Remove the bolt completely to remove the steering joint.

nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) New Reader
5/17/21 4:57 p.m.

In reply to Stefan (Forum Supporter) :

Nope, that's not it...

TED_fiestaHP HalfDork
5/17/21 5:52 p.m.

   The bolt should engage a groove ground into the shaft.  With the bolt out, should be able to tap a chisel into the slot, to open up the snug fit, then it should come apart.  Normally once the bolt is out it should just slip apart, but not always....

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