words by leo 'the dutch shark' and photos by stefan mullikin

Every now and then you stumble upon these forum threads. And you think, what the hell is this guy getting into... 
Here's Stefan, initiating a thread on grassrootsmotorsports.com just after getting his hands on a 951. You might say, "Well, a 951 one is pretty cool and a good choice for a connoisseur". flüssig readers already know there's a story developing right from Stefan's first post. Stefan's story is a fine example of many other brave enthusiasts that just dig in to save these beauties. Like most of us water-cooled-crazy petrol heads, Stefan is trying to create a dream car juggling a budget, spare time, and an understanding spouse, taking on a daunting task that no sane person with accounting skills would try.
Let's follow along, with flüssig-style subtitling:

"So there's a guy I know on the book of faces that had an 88 944 Turbo S for sale. He'd already pulled the brakes and transaxle from it and was offering the rest of the car, which was in good condition with a few minor mods, for $2500.

"I already had a set of standard 944 turbo (Brembo) brake calipers already and my buddy had a 944 turbo transaxle that he'd sell me for a few hundred bucks. So for another $1000 I'd be in a running/driving 944 turbo for about $3500."

"...I grabbed SWMBO and headed to Chehalis, Washington."

Right, you all recognize this: somehow, don't ask why, you have Brembo 944 Turbo brake calipers. All you need is a car to go with them! Oh, and the 944 Turbo transaxle you just happened to have laying around... Seriously Stefan, who're kidding here? You've been trying to hide your plans for a 944 Turbo from your spouse by first buying some unrecognizable smaller technical bits and pieces to hide in the garage!
My first "mod" on the car
The obvious next step is to involve the spouse in the process and secure the buy-in for the hours spent later on:

"So after asking the collective on the forum about whether this made any sense, I grabbed SWMBO and headed to Chehalis, Washington. She approved the purchase after she and I looked at it with the PO. It was 91 miles away from our house so we had AAA haul it home and plop it in the garage. :) I love it when a plan comes together!"

Let's analyze this. First Stefan asks 'the collective' at the forum if it makes sense to complement his set of Brembo brakes and a transaxle with a partly disassembled twenty-five year-old 944 Turbo S. Well, if 'the collective' on that forum is anything like the flüssig crowd, Stefan knew his question was purely rhetorical. Is the Pope Catholic??

Then we catch a glimpse of the typical woman, car nut relationship. Although Stefan knows who's boss (SWMBO: "She Who Must Be Obeyed"), he knows to display his boyish enthusiasm by dragging her along to see a $2500 metal carcass. And he somehow manages to convince her that this is an opportunity that cannot be missed. This guy must be in sales; otherwise he has missed out on a great career...
Now, what's the next thing to do after we have our subject safely secured in our garage at home? Right! Time for the objective assessment:

"Now that it is home, I've started looking it over: Came with a set of good axles, so I just need the transaxle, rotors, pads, brake lines, wear sensors, ABS sensors to get it on the road again."

That's not too bad, isn't it? Luckily Stefan had the transaxle and brakes lying around. What a coincidence!

"While poking around checking systems, the power windows don't work; I bypassed the relay and cleaned the switches with no change. Might be wiring, might be the motors, need to diagnose further. Found a receipt for a new set of switches and a window motor from the PO in the glove box, wonder if he actually got them installed? The power sunroof latches won't move and are stuck in the retracted position; I can hear the motor turning, so I've ordered a new set of gears to hopefully get that sorted out."
Well, that's all just some typical electrical issues you might say. Nothing to worry too much about.

"The HVAC system doesn't seem to want to work at anything except HOT. Found a vacuum line disconnected for the heater control valve. Given its position behind the head, I'm not sure how I'll get it reconnected at this point. Might also solve the issues the PO mentioned with the BOV releasing early. Time to see how skinny I can make my fingers ;)"

Ah, some more annoying jobs... But to the average flüssig reader this is just a test of perseverance. Stefan presses on:

"The Electric water pump for the turbo cooling system is leaking (though it could be the hose, hard to tell at this point), luckily they are rebuildable with a replacement O-ring and general cleaning. Worst case, there is an cheaper Mercedes pump available to replace it if necessary. Need to get the hoses ordered for it so I can dive into it."

Power steering pump and/or power steering pump reservoir hoses are leaking. Not über critical at this point, but its just messy. Pumps and hoses aren't impossible to get, just a PITA to replace.
old wheels...
...and here's the new set.
And another test of character. And here Stefan squeezes in the odd German-ism in his post to mentally stay on top of his über challenging subject.

"Found the remains of an aftermarket stereo system including a 4-channel Alpine amp mounted in the spare tire well. Will likely poke around my stash of parts to see if there is a single-DIN cd-player I can grab along with a small sub/amp I can toss in the spare tire well."

Stefan is wondering about a stereo long before the tech issues have gone. Is he in denial? No! He's just cool about it. He knows he'll tackle this job with one hand tied behind his back.
I wonder if the PO had the same nerve about this as Stefan:

"Apparently who ever "built" this car in the late 90's had a bit of a cocaine habit as he found the remnants of cocaine packets in the door pocket along with a card for Cocaine Anonymous in the door pocket."

Now did this habit develop before or during ownership of the car?

Stefan is not deterred by the PO's deferred maintenance list and presses on with his to do list:

-Remove axles

-Install transaxle

-Install axles

-Install brake lines & bleed brakes/clutch

-The new power steering reservoir arrived yesterday, just need the power steering pump seal kit to tackle that project.

-The electric water pump also needs to be pulled to fix the leak there (bad O-ring)

-Passenger window motor needs to be freed up and lubricated.

-HVAC system stuck on full hot, there's a vacuum line unplugged for the heater valve that I can't reach, probably just have to break out the dental mirror and forceps ;)

-Passenger seat motor controls don't work and are likely bad contacts. Seat is stuck, so it will be tricky to pull and resolve.

-Stereo head unit (not sure what to run, I really don't like overly complex head units).

-Shakedown drive, emissions test, vin inspection and title transfer.

Well, I could go on to continue commenting along some four months of forum postings, but we all know where this is going to end right? Unlike the carefully gathered Dick Skipworth Ecurie Ecosse Collection, broken up at auction, Stefan refuses to let his subject disintegrate. He is not surrendering to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. There will be a happy ending, with Stefan owning a beautifully rescued and unique 951. A car that otherwise would have been neglected and disassembled as a parts car. Enjoying the ride with his beloved girl, who knowingly let Stefan pursue his passion because he would be all the more a man for it.

He is just one example of so many enthusiasts of these flüssig cars to be found, followed, and encouraged out there on the web.

To be continued...


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