Preparing A 40-Year-Old Porsche For A 20-Day Road Trip

Earlier this week I mentioned that I’d be taking my 1976 Porsche 912E on a nice long road trip across the country, and being that I’m leaving on Tuesday morning it’s time to get a little pre-trip maintenance done. It’s all simple stuff, but things I’d rather not be worrying about when I’m in the middle of nowhere tootling along the highway at a cool and steady 65 miles per hour.

The first step was to get the car jacked up and swap the old oil for new 20W50 and a fresh Bosch oil filter. Don’t worry, there are jack stands under there, the car is not held up by the jack alone.

Eagle eyes will notice the dryer vent material on either side of the exhaust. Since I got the car, I have had very poor heat. While under the car I gave the heat exchangers a look, and noticed that both had nasty holes rotting through the outer sheath. 912E heat exchangers are practically unobtanium these days, so I clamped some heater hose over the holes to try to keep the heat headed in the right direction at least.

Second on the list is a Type-923 transmission case load of fresh petroleum-based strangely-blue sludge called Swepco. I’ve had this car for about 9 months, and I’ve amassed nearly 8,000 miles in that time. I have no way of knowing when the transmission fluid was last replaced, and fourth gear has always been a little whiney under load, so I figured fresh fluid wouldn’t hurt anyway. The old gear lube smelled about as bad as you expect it would. One less thing to worry about.

The transmission drain plug is magnetic from the factory, and while there is a little ferrous material stuck to it, it isn’t enough to get worried about.

Next on the list was to get a few aesthetic things fixed up before taking off. The first is the nasty old plastic engine lid grille.

The plastic design, above was weather faded and had a few cracked fins from years of abuse. A new black metal grille, the original style for all 911s from 1973 and 1974, bolts right on and looks a thousand times better to my eyes. This particular piece was sourced from Pelican Parts and built by Tasker Metal Products in California.

The lighting here isn’t ideal, and the car is absolutely filthy, but I’m happy with the finished product. That’s a good looking grille.

Next up was to tackle the tail light lenses. Both lenses on the rear of the car were cracked, so I picked up a set of Euro-style lenses with amber corners.

The final project to take care of before leaving was to de-clutter the bumper

Here’s a shot of the rear bumper from my last road trip. The giant US-spec bumperettes don’t really belong. This car’s Ansa sport exhaust comes down below the rear valance, which moots the muffler cutout in the original rear valance, and the rear ‘PORSCHE” reflector is seriously hazy and filled with micro cracks. I wanted to take care of all of these things in one fell swoop. The rear reflector had to come off to repair the dented sheet metal behind it anyhow, and to get the reflector off the bumper has to be removed, too.

This muffler design is a little loud, but it’s all mostly intact. The tips bottom out frequently on dips in the street and eventually, the whole thing will have to be replaced by something more appropriate. I believe this exhaust was designed with a Volkswagen Bus in mind, so it’s not ideal in any way.