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Thread: SWB 911 targa "barn find" dilemma

  1. #1

    SWB 911 targa "barn find" dilemma

    I find myself faced with a dilemma involving a 911 and respectfully request information and opinions from members of this community to help me resolve it. The dilemma is my role in the future of this vehicle.

    The vehicle is a U.S. specification 1967 911 (non-S) targa, the 512th built. It has 118,000 miles. It is essentially rust free (about which more anon). It is straight, complete, and largely original. The primary deviations from originality are a single, amateur quality re-paint applied without any visible preparation directly atop the original paint and the fitment of 1970's-era aftermarket wheels.

    I recently acquired the vehicle from a good friend and fellow Porsche enthusiast. I was present when he purchased the vehicle in 1985. He purchased the car because, even 25 years ago, rust-free, straight, complete SWB targas were uncommon. It became part of his then-large collection of Porsches and he used it sparingly.

    In 2001, the car received a thorough mechanical freshening and restoration of the targa top and soft rear window. Prior to collecting it from the reputable independent Porsche specialist who had completed the mechanical work and supervised the restoration of the top and window, my friend encountered circumstances that precipitously altered his priorities.

    The car was placed without any preparation into what was intended to be short-term storage. Short-term storage evolved into long-term storage, and the car was literally untouched from 2001 until I collected it last month.

    The car was stored outdoors. It was covered by a tarpaulin in an arid region of Southern California.

    Extended outdoor storage was not kind to the car. The soft materials in the targa top disintegrated. The plastic rear window discolored and hardened. Many of the original rubber seals disintegrated. Superficial rust appeared on the surface of the front deck, front fenders, and a rear fender adjacent to the targa bar. Much of the poorly-applied blue paint peeled or crazed, revealing bright patches of the original Bahama yellow paint beneath. Pitting developed on metal surfaces of the interior. The wood on the wood-rimmed steering wheel developed splinters. Several seams on the front seats split.

    Upon acquiring the car, I devoted many hours to cleaning it. The original interior and trunk carpets, rubber mats, door panels, glass, sun visors, and exterior chrome and deco strips were transformed and resurrected. The original spare wheel and tire, original top boot, Porsche coco mats, and original jack also responded well to sensitive cleaning. I replaced the original seats with seats from another 1967 911 that had been re-upholstered in correct black perforated leather by Autos International.

    Last week, I had the car transported to a local independent garage renowned for the quality of its work. This shop historically provided excellent care for my sorely missed 1973.5 Signal yellow 911T targa, a particularly fine car I regret having sold in 2004 after 20 years of rewarding ownership.

    Earlier today, I met with the shop foreman to discuss the results of their thorough inspection of the car. The goods news includes the facts that the engine turns freely, nothing of consequence is missing, and there is no accident damage or area of hidden rust. The bad news is that all of the work that was completed during the mechanical overhaul in 2001 needs to be repeated. Secondary to its extended storage, the car needs brakes, shocks, tires, and replacement of various lines, hoses, and rubber suspension pieces. The fuel tank needs to be removed and flushed. The carburetors need to be removed, cleaned, and quite possibly rebuilt. The engine will require gaskets and a full tuning. The preliminary estimate to mechanically resurrect the car is between $8000 and $10,000 (including $2000 assigned to rebuilding the original twin Weber carburetors and a labor rate of $127/hour).

    I have been absent from the Porsche world for more than six years. During my absence, the price of old Porsche parts has increased substantially. I am no longer familiar with Porsche parts suppliers or Porsche restoration specialists, not to mention contemporary labor rates. I am confronted with the prospect of spending five figures for a mechanical resurrection and, if my preliminary research is accurate, $2000 to re-restore the targa top and soft rear window, several thousands for original alloy wheels and correct tires, hundreds if not thousands more for OEM seals and trim, and as many thousands as I am willing to pay for a proper re-paint.

    As much as I would like to own and enjoy another early 911 targa (particularly one in a familiar color scheme), I do not have the resources to subsidize the cost of a full and proper restoration of this car at this time. Given low prevailing interest rates, the rising prices of vintage Porsche parts (and labor rates), and my wife's resistance to an unsightly old car in our garage, however, I suspect that if I am ever to restore the car, now is the opportune time.

    I believe I have three options at this time:

    1. Take a bank loan and restore the car properly;
    2. Rent space and return the car to storage until I accumulate the discretionary resources to restore the car properly (a period that may be require years);
    3. Sell the car to an individual with the skills and/or resources to restore the car properly.

    To help me make an informed decision, I ask you to please share information and opinions regarding the following issues:

    1. Current and long-term value of the car in its current condition.
    2. Current and long-term value of the car restored to "driver" (not concours) condition.

    Additionally, I welcome referrals to a reputable, reasonably priced mechanic, top and interior specialist, body and paint shop, and parts supplier in or around Southern California.

    Thank you,


    BTW: If it transpires that I sell the car in the near future and the sale price exceeds the amount I have invested, that difference will go to my friend.

  2. #2
    Another complete engine rebuild? $2,000 to rebuild the Webers? I'm in Massachusetts, so I can't be of help with finding a mechanic, but it seems to me that you might save a few dollars on the engine, and spend more on the paint. That's where I'd place my priorities, based on your description. I vote for financing option no. 1. Life is too short not to drive your Porsche.

    It sounds like a great car. You will find a lot of support and encouragement for your hobby, here. Let me be the first to wish you the best of luck with it.
    Tom F.
    Long Beach, CA

  3. #3
    I'll take a stab: My guess is that the car would bring around $10K as it sits today. Unless there's another surge in early Porsche values as occurred a few years ago, it might appreciate by a few percent per year. That's better than a money market account, assuming that storage is free. To get it into driver condition, including a decent paint job, you'll spend the $10K already quoted plus another $10K, and the car will bring, voila, $30K. Similar appreciation, I'm guessing. Next!

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Santa Monica CA
    I have the same situation. A 1968 911L Euro spec coupe thAT needs alot of work. Its been sitting since 1992. I would not take out a loan. I would try to save $1000 per month for 6 to 8 months and collecting parts at the same time. Then get it running and paint it next year. What city are you located? There are other and possibly lower cost repair shops around. Chris

  5. #5
    $20 K is a minimum.
    i'm way past that on a DIY.
    buy one that's running, its cheaper!
    bob moglia
    '72 E sunroof coupe

  6. #6
    I have followed the 67 911 (normal) SWT market since I am restoring one, two project cars (one numbers matching and other not) have recently sold for $14k and $13.7k. Several very nice cars have recently sold between $44k and $53k, so your car has potential. What is important is that it is a numbers matching car, little to no rust, and the color is attractive, I would guess as a driver it is minimum of $20k. Show us some photos!

  7. #7
    If any of us could predict 'long term value' we'd probably all be millionaires by now. The market does what the market does.

    My suggestion would be to make it a 'long term project', spend some $$ on what it MUST have now to get it running/ driving. It runs just fine with incorrect wheels and a crappy paint job. You (usually) don't need a weather proof targa top or seals in SoCal, so do the mechanical repairs first and then go for the 'looks' when your bank account permits it.

    Should you decide to 'opt out' and sell the car, I am interested in a SWB SWT.


  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Santa Monica CA
    SWB cars are really getting harder to find. I would bite the bullet and stick it out and restore the car. It might take a couple of years longer than planned, but the reward will be high. Notice you already have a potentional buyer if you decide to sell. These cars were scarce 12 years ago when I bought my first 911 a 2.2 liter car. There is something so pure about the SWB cars so I also jumped in and bought a 1968 911L that needs restoration. Chris

  9. #9
    First, if you have a shop that will do all of the mechanical work for $10K, which includes engine and suspension, I want their phone number. That is a steal! And, if it is the wrong color, to do a good paint job, not a really good one, would be at LEAST $9K, and that is really no body work. And, you need wheels, tires, targa top, soft window, etc. etc. I just finished a 67S softie, that was running and in good condition when I bought it, it did have a color change from Bahama Yellow to white. I did not redo the interior, pretty much left stock, and I had the 4.5 fuchs, which to be original, you do not need. When I sold it, I only lost about $30K!! And that was an S!! And when the motor was redone, original crank, pistons and cylinders etc. were all in good condition, and put back into the motor. When you try to find the suspension bushings, etc. for that car, they are very hard to find. If you want to keep it forever, go for it. If you think you are going to spend all of this money, and even come CLOSE TO BREAKING EVEN, you will be very sad. And, as we all know, it costs the same to do all of this to an S car, which has a much higher resale value, than a normal 911 like yours. There is a 68 911 softie on ebay, with an opening bid of $29,900. No one bid on it at all the last time it came up. Take a look at this, and really ask yourself what your goal is. Just my .02 cents worth.
    S Registry #265
    R Gruppe #224

  10. #10
    I agree with Eade's thoughts above. If economics are the #1 factor then the only course is to sell the car today and consider what might have been. Having no photos of the car in certain areas makes it impossible to hazard a guess as to the present value, for what it's worth, a "core" for a restoration is in the region of $10k, if it's all there.

    An engine refresh alone, correctly done, is at least a $10,000 proposition and that assumes you are re-using the pistons and cylinders. A 67 has "Biral" cylinders consisting of aluminum fins cast around a cast-iron liner. When the engine sits, at least three cylinders have valves open to the atmosphere at any point in the combustion cycle. The odds of there being no rust on the cast-iron liners and piston rings are slim. Camshaft lobes will probably be worn which means refinishing the rockers as well, and 67s had short little rocker shafts that should probably be changed. Chain tensioners, idlers and sprockets all require replacement. The Carb rebuild will run you $1,780 at present.

    The suspension is also a major undertaking. The factory front control arm rear bushings cost $246.61 each at present.

    Please don't take this the wrong way, but there is no such thing as an SWB without rust. 304065 was steel grit and plastic media blasted down to bare metal and then immediately sprayed with anticorrosion epoxy primer and I'm SURE that there is still rust present in the internal rocker channels and other areas impossible to reach. Rustproofing in '67 consisted of Teroson undercoating applied over a very thin primer, which allowed moisture to penetrate. I bet if you take a screwdriver and scrape under the front pan, you find black chunks flaking off with surface rust underneath. Areas like the gas tank support above the front suspension pan are susceptible not only to entrapped moisture but rust from above, caused by battery acid during operation of the car or storage. The panel where the front fenders join to the body also catches dirt and is rarely free of rust. Likewise up in the rear wheel wells, the area behind the "cup" for the engine lid pull, and the area under the rear portion of the folding roof (where the chrome is on a coupe) probably accumulated dirt and therefore are a prime area to check for rust. If fortune is with you these areas will be rust free, but it bears examining them VERY closely. Contemporary reports of owners in the late 1960s reported total rust-through of the early 911 in spots.

    Anyway, I hope this advice is helpful to you-- I would estimate the true cost of a SWB 911 needing engine, suspension and paint to "driver" standards to be in the neighborhood of $50,000 over the price of the base car. And that is without considering the expensive and nearly unavailable soft window pieces. Conversely, a correctly done SWT is a rare thing indeed, and offers a better chance for long-term appreciation.
    1966 911 #304065 Irischgruen

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