The BMW 1 series coupe was on the verge of massive depreciation — it had to go. This is how I started courting 944s.
My father showed me a 944 2.7 in guards red on eBay which was going for cheap; four hours later it was sold. Anyone into reading tea leaves would've taken the hint — not me.
The search continued.
The shots captured a tired looking thing, as if feeling sorry for itself with a description written out of pity; not many punters'll line up when the words "failed" and "MOT" trail each other in a sentence. Yes, it had rotted sills, but it was cheap. It was also 5 miles away from my house.
A few hours later, I phoned the owner and asked him flat out.
"How bad's the rot on that 944? Can it be patched up, or are we talking a 'snip, grind, weld a new sill on' sort of thing?"
"Look, mate...come have a look at it." he replied.
I hung up, took a drag, and punched out the cigarette. I was off to see this thing for myself.
Upon arriving and looking at the car, it looked so much better than it did in the pictures; it was straight, had no dents, the engine sounded strong, and the interior was mint. Sure, it had a questionable repaint where they didn't remove the number plates or any part of the car for a proper job, but on the whole, the car looked very good for the price.
Two days later, it was brought and driven back to the workshop.
Once the outer sill was cut off, we found the rot creeping in on the inner sill; well, that had to be repaired. This led to the lower part of the front wing being sorted, too. After all was said and done, the car had the complete driver's side repainted. The plan was to spray the car in parts so it wouldn't be off the road too long since it was going to be my daily driver.
With the body work complete, the car was taxed and MOT'd; that meant it'd be road ready on December the 23rd. It was while the important bits were being sorted that the urge to make the thing my own hit. The car looked lovely and all, but it was missing a bit of character. This is the part of new ownership that consumes the most time; scouring the internet for parts and modifications.
A new full custom exhaust had been built for the car, too. It was decided to keep the rear silencer the same size as the original along with the factory looking tip. The purpose was to swing an OEM look, only louder with a bellow of an exhaust note air-cooled 911 owners would envy. See, even the purists are duped into thinking this 944 has the stock exhaust...until it's throttled.
The rear end needed to be repainted before the trip to GTI Treffen also known as Worthersee. Running tight on schedule with two weeks left until the gig, I was just starting the re-trim of the 944 with custom door panels, seats, fire extinguisher and gear leaver...the heat was on.
The seats were inspired by the Singer 911. A few design cues were borrowed like using genuine Porsche centre cloth inserts from early 911s and Napa leather; this combination of materials are an homage to Porsche's early days for an interior that looks as if done by the factory. When the interior trim was done, my good friends over at Cobra Seats finished and fitted the front buckets the day I had to shuffle off to the ferry.
The 944 took me to Stuttgart with a midpoint stop off into Austria without an ounce of drama. After a week or so in Austria, I took the car to Maranello, Italy to check out the Ferrari factory; of course I parked the 944 right outside the front door, because, well, Porsches love antagonizing Ferraris whenever the chance presents itself.
With the winter months ahead, a project with some complexity is needed —what better time to retrofit a more modern complete S2 front end to shed the 944's VeeDub roots? A proper paint job and a half cage for the back trimmed in leather to finish off the interior comes next. Each mod nudges this 944 closer to a level of perfection and purpose far beyond what was imagined.
Resurrection, restoration, or rejuvenation. None of these words seem to fit into this equation — it's re-imagination, and that trumps them all.