My  944 Turbo restoration 

At first glance my 944 looked to be in pretty reasonable shape, the paint was reasonably bright & shiny and the body looked fine from most angles. However when looking at it from the front there was some damage to the bumper around the drivers indicator area, the bumper also had been modified under the front license plate. Most annoying to me however was the panel alignment across the front of the hood where it meets the valence over the intercooler and the fact that the headlights were not flush with the valence, one was slightly low when the other was flush. The interior of the car was ok except for some shoddy prior attempts to replace the headliner and some trim. Most electrical items did not work though.

Mechanically the car  had drivability problems that did not even allow me to make it all the way home. Even after that initial problem was resolved I knew that it was not boosting correctly. So my work started in earnest to try and sort this car out. It was not long before I discovered that the engine also had a nasty habit of leaking oil onto the  exhaust crossover pipe if left still for a week, that resulted in a cloud of smoke for 10 minutes that would fill up the garage and make me distinctly unpopular with my wife. As I continued checking into the car I found that many things were simply missing, not working or had been poorly repaired in the past. eventually I came to joke with my wife that "if something on this car can possibly be broken, it will be" because this proved true on so many occasions. It was not long before I decided that the car needed major rebuild work on both the body and the mechanicals.

The engine turned out to have poor compression on one cylinder and oil leaks all over the place so I decided it would come out and be rebuilt. The body I was not sure how to tackle initially.


List of faults


This is the car in the early days whilst I was still trying to identify why the turbo was not boosting properly.


The engine bay looked clean and tidy from the top but this proved to be deceptive for many issues lurked beneath.


I decided to pull the engine out from the top rather than from underneath as the manual suggested, primarily because I did not have appropriate jacks to lift the front to the required height to slide the engine from underneath.


I was glad to see the engine out so I could check it out more closely and start to discover just how many things were wrong with it (there were plenty of things as it turned out).


This shot shows that the main body panels were quite straight, it also shows overspray from a previous spray job.


 After pulling off the oil cooler assembly I was horrified to find several teaspoons worth of sludge sitting inside and partially obstructing one of the water passages.


Here is one of the cylinders showing what is probably normal (trivial) score marks on the cylinder wall. If you look at the piston crown you can see two marks where valves have impacted the pistons at some earlier stage.


 This picture left me feeling distinctly unwell. Clearly there is major damage to this cylinder wall. It looks as if a piston may have siezed at some point and the vertical scrape must have been caused by a foreign object or damaged piston ring. amazingly this cylinder was not the one with low compression figures. Unfortunately damage of this magnitude requires that the cylinders be bored oversize and new oversize pistons be fitted.



Here is the engine disassembled. On the right it is possible to see one of the valves springs which is shorter than the others -- it is a broken spring and was the cause of the low compression on that cylinder.


 This is the block after I scrubbed it  with degreaser and my toothbrush (which still tastes awful). I was quite amazed at how clean it came up, the brown tarnished oil residue was not all that hard to remove.

With the engine removed I finally had a good chance to inspect the front end for damage and get everything cleaned up.



On the passenger frame rail is where the cause of my front end problems lay. The top of the frame rail in the vicinity of the power steering reservoir was damaged. It is likely that the car had been involved in a small collision which had caused the frame rail to fold/collapse about 5mm. That 5mm was beyond the adjustment limits of the headlight mechanism, which meant the headlights could not be brought back into alignment.



In this photo I have removed the heat shield so that the frame rail is exposed, the fold in the frame rail was now quite clear, it can be seen above the point where the steering rack tie rod end disappears under the frame rail.



The opposite side had no damage to the frame rail but when the collision occurred it had obviously caused some stress because the radiator mounting  had cracked and been re-welded (badly) at the point where it joined the frame rail. As can be seen the whole radiator/ intercooler mounting assembly looks pretty beat up.



More sad looking intercooler mounting area. At this stage I had been very lucky to locate someone who I felt confident in repairing my Porsche. I was close to abandoning the car at this stage but with a good body guy to take the job on I decided to continue knowing that the car would be like new again up front. So I decided decided to replace the front clip entirely. Much of the plumbing and wiring has been removed at this point.



Here is the car after having the front clip properly removed. Ie all panel spot welds carefully drilled out etc. Sections were examined to determine the extent of the damage and work out the best way of grafting the new clip in such a way as to preserve to structural integrity of the frame. The gold paint is actually weld through primer which ensures that corrosion problems do not arise in the future.



Here is the replacement front clip partly in place, obviously lots of measurements had to be taken to ensure the correct dimensions were maintained in the engine bay ( the Porsche workshop manuals have all that data)


Another shot of the front clip being installed.





Obviously the new clip is installed and I removed the rest of the engine bay clutter so that it could be resprayed and clear coated. Sikkens paints were used for this.



With the front clip sorted and excellent work demonstrated, I asked the body shop to respray the entire car. Myself and an airforce friend from the local Porsche club set about removing all of the windows, bumbers, lights & trim etc so that the respray job could be as  comprehensive as possible. There was not originally an intention to go back to bare metal but it was discovered that the car had been resprayed more than once and so the bodyshop guys elected to remove all the previous layers of paint so that they know exactly what was underneath and so that it would not interfere with the quality of the paint job that they would apply.



Here are several of the  exterior parts which were removed and sanded back in preparation for respraying like the rest of the body.

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Here are some pics of the car when I was planning on respraying in Guards Red. A pink primer was used to suit the red paint. 

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This primer had been blocked/wet sanded but will now be reprimed with a yellow primer and sealer before the YELLOW paint gets applied.

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We decided that the best finish could only be achieved if the doors were removed so that the insides of the doors  (hinge area) and guards could be reached. This was a painful job (literally - the backs of my hands are still bloodied) as the wiring looms in the doors had to be pulled back into the car and the job is made difficult by the metalwork inside the door.

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Here you can see some of the trim getting the yellow primer in the spray booth.


Here are a couple of other pics which I have posted previously on the boards but here they are for reference:

This is what I found in my catalytic converter - It was seriously blocked.


 Here is one of the reasons that the turbo failed to boost. 

This was not caused by the previous owner, this was my fault. Tip - if you have the intake plumbing removed form you car for any length of time check the entire intake tract for foreign objects when re-assembling. It was a bolt that caused the compressor blades to shred. On the positive side I think I now have the cleanest intake system and intercooler in the country.

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This is a pic of the shaft that the clutch fork rides on, you can see the bearing marks on the shaft surface. The previous owner had also taken to the centre of the shaft with vice grips at some stage. You might also note the non standard nut on the end of the shaft, I couldn't seem to find either a SAE or metric tool to fit that mess. Why that welding mess was there....I have no idea.

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Here is a pic of the header / flange welding that was on the car when I bought it. Its not pretty and inside the flange, the crummy welding had reduced the diameter of the pipes to about 60% of the original diameter.



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Here are some of the go fast bits that will go back in with the engine rebuild.

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Here is the stuff that needs to go back in the car when I start putting it back together.

I see many people put posts on the web boards, regarding the sump and baffles etc. So here is a pic - this is from my 87 Turbo.


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I wanted to do something a bit different with my valve cover so I decided to put a polished finish on the lettering and use a contrasting black background.

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Me - starting the dry assembly

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The new wrist pins came up within limits in the old bushings  but I decided to replace the bushings anyway

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Crank end play was nicely in limits

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Crank bearing gap also is comfortably within spec.

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Here is the head after it has been decked, ported, polished, o-ringed and fitted with new valves, new guides, new seals and new factory springs. The o-rings have been positioned to work with a wide fire ring head gasket.

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The new valve train components will  ensure that  the motor is not losing any power unnecessarily.

1 Feb - I dry assembled the engine (no gaskets or sealant) to make sure I had all the necessary hardware and to check on the best sequence to put it all back together (this is a worthwhile exercise). The valve train is not installed in this pic.

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When all was back together I could see the clearance issues with the new turbo (TO4E) The side view shows that the plumbing to the intake will probably need to be custom made to clear the alternator.

The Manifold actually clears the turbo by about 3mm when the manifold is torqued down with gaskets installed. However the throttle body will still interfere with the turbo (see pic below) so the turbo will need to have some of the material from that top bolt lug removed (no problem)

Here is a pic of the former K26 Turbo installed - it shows that the turbo intake is clear of the alternator.


This pic shows that the screws which attach that bracket onto the bottom of the throttle - interfere with the lug on top of the turbo housing


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The doors were removed so that the doors and the door frames could be reached properly with the spray gun. Time was taken to thoroughly sand the door frames (like everything else) so that the paint finish would be consistent all over the car.


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After all the careful sanding of the door frames, they were primed and sealed, ready for the paint. The body shop ended up trying several (3) different brands of the textured material that covers the rocker panel below the doors, before a satisfactory finish was obtained.


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Body is primed & sealed ready for paint.

Here is an overall taken 7 Mar 02 with various parts of the body in various stages of finish (but none finished)

This pic was taken 7 Mar 02. The rear is still wet from having the clear coat sanded. The door has been wet sanded and is drying out, the fender has also been clear coated but has not been sanded back as yet. The pic does not do the paint justice but you can see from the fender reflection  that the clear coat has a great finish even before sanding.

This is a picture of the door after it was clear coated and before it was wet sanded.


This is the engine bay with one coat of paint  - it will get more paint and clear coating next week.

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UPDATED 29 May 02

The body panels have been finished all bar the final polish

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The body shop should finish the remaining trim in the next few days.

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I decided to wrap the headers - turbo to preserve heat energy in the exhaust and to reduce the underhood temperatures if possible.

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I ended up with enough wrap left over to do the turbo hot side (partly anyway)

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Newly machined flywheel along with new clutch should mean no clutch shudder when its all back together.

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I decided to try may hand at painting the center caps from by phone dials.

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I am glad I could put these speed and reference sensors back in place with the motor out of the car!

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This was the result of the hand painting effort, it turned out OK but the clear coat I used interfered with the edge of the red enamel . I also hadn't painted the cap silver yet - not that you would know it from the pic. So this cap will get stripped and then i'll do the rest.

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These next four pics are taken with a decent digital camera that shows the new colour accurately (on my screen that is!).

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A budding Porsche fan learning the ropes (Oh and my sons in there too)

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Mods to Suit larger TEC TO4E-54 Turbo - Throttle spring arm bolts were replaced with rivets to give more clearance to turbo compressor side housing. 

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Turbo coolant line required a pipe joiner and threaded section in order to situate the coolant line a little further out so that it would clear the larger turbo housing.

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Compressor housing lug was filed part way to clear throttle body components

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At last my 951 is back at  home - 7 Jun 02 !!

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28 August - The rebuild continues

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30 Aug (AM)  getting ready to put the motor in

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30 Aug (PM) Just about ready to slide the engine in place

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31 Aug  - spent most of the day cleaning the front suspension components and doing minor jobs - like stainless brake lines.

Moving the engine under the car was a 5 minute job using dowel rollers underneath a board. Going through the front posed no clearance problems at all.

If you can't be driving your 944 at sunrise then working on it at sunrise is not a bad alternative.

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after aligning the engine with the torque tube the engine and crossmember still sit several inches lower than the frame rail so this is a good time to tighten up oil lines etc before they become obstructed.

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Installing the upgraded chips

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New radiator and new intercooler mounts

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Installing the door handles is surprisingly easy if you remove the window and the rear window guide rail (via a top and bottom 8mm screw). The first picture shows that the roller rail (right/centre of pic)  has been unbolted and removed so that I could free up the window mechanism and remove the glass (Porsche manual says in a not very helpful manner "Remove window"). While the window was out I had a good opportunity to clean it thoroughly. I also cleaned the door lock mechanism with some degreaser and high pressure water spray.

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Engine installation in progress with some overhead shots of the plumbing around the turbo

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I finally got to see the car with the new wheels on and here I have just installed the rear valences and lights etc

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The light mechanism was pretty dirty so that had to be fixed. Unfortunately the paint job can get a little scratched during installation of the light mechanism due to a variety of factors.

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The sway bar was one of the very first things I cleaned up a year or so ago and yet it was one of the last things I installed. I decided to paint my calipers since they looked pretty bad, but the paint (powder coat) had actually taken on a silver surface colour than cleaned up pretty well so that the caliper was mostly black by the time I had finished cleaning it. It probably could have gotten away without the paintjob (ie just a thorough cleaning) The new pain is sensitive to spilled brake fluid so I have to be careful at brake bleeding time).


To be continued

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