story and photo by gavin arnold

I had always been a car man.

You know the type. From the 8 year old with the compulsion to identify every car, to a teen with oily fingers right up into becoming a young chap with far too many and far too random cars.

I discovered my love for German metal produced during a specific period early on—and I proceeded to own most of them. Porsche really got under my skin though, and I’ve enjoyed some bliss years with them. It wasn’t long after turning 30 that I began to distance myself from cars a bit and started enjoying other things in life. I found a good lady, relocated, and then the inevitable happened...

I got thinking about Porsches.

"—that was until the jack went through the rusty floor"

I didn’t have anything like the budget I used to; the economy in the UK just wasn’t as prosperous as it once was. I just wanted a cheapy 944, you know, for the feel and the smell…no other car stimulated all the senses like a Porsche. Now, I knew going into it that there’s no such thing as a cheap Porsche, but this didn’t stop me buying a rusty hack. She was a square dashed 1985 and it was worse than the eBay ad described. She had a rough life; driven hard and put away wet too many times, but it was pretty and all I could afford at the time so I decided to slowly put it right. And so began our long relationship.

On the 100-mile journey back from collecting her, the brakes failed. I managed to sort this out at the side of the road while getting a sun burned arse—that was until the jack went through the rusty floor...I could see how this relationship was going to go!

During that month I had sorted the car to a safe and useable standard. I wanted to tidy it up so I fitted some OZ Futara from a Strosek and dropped the suspension. It looked cool for a hack; it just needed a driver’s side door. So off I went to a local Porsche breaker for a door; the guy lifted the cover to show me the door…BOOM! It hit me between the eyes right there at that moment…that shell is better than the one I’m trying to save! I went out for a door and came back with a shell...unbelievable.

"it lacked the wow factor I had with previous builds"

Enter my new flame.

She was a clean ‘86 with an oval dash and with just a screen and panels fitted. So then I applied for its papers and cracked on with the attempted re-shell. I knew there were a lot of differences between oval and square dashed cars, but it wasn’t until then that I learned just how much. At that point I bought the factory parts catalogue and then spent some time finding the right parts I needed. As I had sunk some cash into it by this point I wanted to make it a bit more special, and even though I like the 944, it lacked the wow factor I had with previous builds.

During the 1980’s, tuners like Hartge, Alpina and Ruf were producing some amazing builds and I loved what these companies were doing, they were amongst my favourites. But the one thing that hurt me as a kid was that Ruf didn't touch the 944. So I decided to make something along the lines of what a 944 BTR could have been.

Now that I had this immaculate black oval dashed N/A, it seemed the perfect base for this idea I had. Imagine my shock when the papers came and I saw the reg number was C5BTR! 

"I called Alois Ruf and asked him why he had not breathed on the 944."

So here’s the lowdown.

I purchased a complete mint condition black interior and then added a perfect un-faded set of 964 electric and heated scripted sports seats with matching rear lower bench from a 924. I didn’t fit the top part since a rear roll cage with diagonal bar was fitted. Then I did a few small things like a Club sport style centre console, I changed the MPG face of the tachometer to a plain one and put a discreet Ruf script on it. It had sported an OMP steering wheel, then a Ruf one, and now it wears an ‘80s Momo with a Porsche horn push. A few detailed touches include a red 968 hazard switch, a working clock, and period Blaupunkt SQR. In went a boost gauge that matches the instruments mounted on centre console, and to top it off, a 931 dogleg pattern gear lever.

Didn't go mad here but plan to do more. So far it’s got a 951 Brembo full set up (early scripted type) M030 bars, M030 coil over front struts, 924 turbo rear tube, 951 torsion bars, alloy rear arms, new bushed throughout. No ABS.

Factory n/a with modified front bumper (for air intercooler), 924 turbo bonnet converted to gas struts, 951 rear valance, rear wiper delete, scripted handles, non-fog light front valance, and a genuine Ruf badge on rear.

N/A 2.5 8-valve converted into a turbo that includes 951 pistons, forged rods, 951/930 clutch, n/a camshaft on 951 head, K27/8 turbo, Turboneticswaste gate, Lindsey racing chips,  3 Bar Fuel regulator, Walbro 255 fuel pump, Siemens 55lb injectors, cone filter, modified 951 exhaust, alloy blow off valve, and various deletes. On the transmission end she had a 931 dogleg LSD gear box with torque tube running a Lindsey speedo pick up.
Performance is strong, mostly factory parts used or period parts and the quarter mile without a good launch is 12.8 @ 114mph. If Ruf had done this in 1986 it would have been very quick for the day with quarter mile times rivaling a Lamborghini Countach 5000 of that period.

Here’s the kicker. I called Alois Ruf and asked him why he had not breathed on the 944. His response? He alluded to having loved doing a 944 and a 928, but his company was at full capacity with the 911. He also complimented the car.

It’s not over yet, though. She’s always evolving and being fettled, made faster, etc. She gets a work out most days and stretches her legs to travel from the UK to Poland a few times a year, and is reliable. (Until last week!)

I know people like to preserve them, but I built the car I wanted so I could use it. The feel of boost and oversteer of a properly sorted car on the daily commute is something few people get to enjoy.

I started this project 3 years ago and it has been on the road for two and a half of them. I have to say, I work at a classic car company and get to drive everything under the sun but in my honest opinion, nothing gives me the buzz like this one. Was it luck? I’m not so sure but I put everything I knew into making the perfect GT car from spare parts…and it worked.
Gavin Arnold's stunning 944BTR will be featured in flüssig's premier issue...stay tuned.
el jefe


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