Does it ever rain in South Africa? Vivid Guards Red paintwork sings in the sun, on an early morning run to Bloubergstrand – Table Mountain as the backdrop.
Run by Graeme Hurst
Owned since June #2015
Total mileage 196,712km
Kilometres since acquisition 1712
Latest costs £45
BOXER FULFILS A TEENAGE DREAM
My mates call it an early mid-life crisis, but it was actually my teenage, wall-poster memories that fuelled our latest acquisition when a #1979
SC found its way onto the fleet last year. That, plus spiralling 911 prices in recent years as the Rand weakened and collectors hedged their bets with hard-currency priced cars. It was now or never.
My passion for 911s was kindled more than 30 years ago, when my late father’s best mate Syd bought a Guards Red 3.2 out of the box in ’84. I remember being mystified by the unusual howl of the flat-six as it tore down our road unseen for the first time and my father Peter exclaiming, from the depths of his workshop: “Syd’s bought a Carrera!”
Two years on and that sound (along with Dire Straits’ Love over Gold ) got etched into my cerebrum at dawn every Saturday morning as I rode in the passenger seat on the way to a part-time job at Syd’s factory. With the sunroof open, sun rising ahead and the speedo needle way over to the right (the first time I’d been in a car at 200kph-plus), it was an intoxicating experience.
One that fuelled my passion. Fast forward to 2014 and I got to explore the performance myself when visiting Syd in Australia, where he and the 911 now reside, with a trip to drop off the car at his exhaust man, Fast Eddie. Now heavily tuned up as a track-day weapon, his 3.2 is a serious piece of kit that I did my best not to bend, although Syd brags that his 911 is just a one-owner car driven by a little old guy at weekends…
My 911 experience was further intensified with a run in my brother Andrew’s early-’70s 2.2 T on the same visit. Once I was back home, I was browsing through Gumtree and Autotrader for a permanent ‘fix’.
I know from various C&SC features that these cars are robust and can handle huge mileages. But the paperwork in many a Case history has shown that they can also bite if they’ve been neglected. And they rot. That kept me at bay until a mate texted a photo of one that he was selling. It was a tidy early, lefthooker SC that was previously in the same ownership for 20 years and had 195,000km on the clock.
He was selling the SC only because an ultra-low-mileage 3.2 that he’d owned 20 years ago was back on the market. With the car being on the other side of the country, I took his word and asked for his bank details before getting it transported down.
Happy? Definitely! The condition was as described. It had clearly been the recipient of a respray and partial retrim, but that’s expected for a 35-year-old car. Mechanically, it feels very strong, with no slop in the controls or ominous noises. It has plenty of poke, too, despite not having the kick of the 3.2 Carrera that got me hooked. The early SC – or Super Carrera, to use the full model name – boasted just 180bhp compared to the 3.2 model’s 231.
The first job was to get a Certificate of Roadworthiness. This is a bind with an old car because South Africa doesn’t have an annual MoTstyle test. Instead, vehicles are only inspected after a change of ownership, meaning that maintenance issues can build up progressively and you could be hit with a big bill.
Fortunately I wasn’t, but the SC failed on three counts: the foglights weren’t functioning, one headlamp was pointing to Mars and there were signs of oil on the gearbox casing, which the tester didn’t like.
The foglamps were a later addition so I offered to remove them there and then, which the tester was fine with – as long as I also removed the switch. I didn’t fancy having a hole in the dash so I decided to get them working. Adjusting the errant lamp turned into a bigger job after the captive nut inside it (for the adjuster) snapped off. My attempt to epoxy a nut in place failed as soon as the adjuster was turned, so I removed the bowl and tried to find someone who could braze on a nut.
While out searching, I dropped into Italsud Motors to get the flatsix steam cleaned. Seeing the car’s one-eyed front, proprietor Tony L’Abbate offered a quick fix with a nifty machine that reinstates the captive nut by inserting a threaded rivet into the hole. That’s providing the surrounding metal has enough meat in it to be drilled out. It did, and the light was back on in less than 15 minutes. An hour later I had the important COR, along with nicely parallel headlamp beams, ready for my own early morning blasts.