Taking a 911 Apart, Repainting and Putting It Back Together - Part One

By Edward H. Coon

Have you ever taken something apart to find out how it works or to make it look better? Of course that was the easy part. The hard part was putting it back together in the same or better condition. Most of us are not trained Porsche mechanics, body repair experts or paint experts. That is why we take a second mortgage on the house and bring it to a professional to have it restored or repaired. This article is for those of us who are inquisitive, willing to take a chance, try something new, like to build and repair things and most of all save money.

I have two 1979 911 Targas, and 1978 911 Coupe. I have taken apart two of thesecars, stripped all the body parts to bare metal, had them painted, put them back together and lo and behold they both still look like 911s and nothing fell off. Currently, I am taking apart and stripping my third car. I would like to pass on to you a few tips that I have learned from trial and error, mistakes and successes.

If you are thinking of restoring or just taking apart a 911, first ask yourself WHY? The following reasons may come to mind:

  1. To repaint the car.
  2. To check for rust under the paint, between seals, and under the glass.
  3. To repair body damage.
  4. To add flares.
  5. To learn how the car is made and put together.
  6. To save money with all the above.
  7. To stay out of local bars.

When you take the car apart, have it painted, and put it back together you will be able to accomplish all the above.

Many Porsches are just repainted over the old paint and not taken apart. In this case the car will have over-spray (paint where you don't want it), painted rubber seals, and if the base paint is "dead" (old) the new top coat will also become "dead" and in time will crack and peel.

In order for your prized possession to look like new, you must plan, plan, plan and do some homework before you turn your first nut.

THE PLANNING STAGE

Contact several experts depending on your level of expertise:

1. Painter and Body Person

Ask for references and see examples of his work. It would be better if he has painted Porsches before. Show him your car (before you take it apart). Discuss with him what you want as an end result and that you are considering taking the car apart and stripping it to bare metal. Ask him if you should strip the paint. Sometimes leaving the original paint may be beneficial. However, if you have the European version 911, more than likely you will have to strip the paint off. My two European versions had 5 to 7 coats of primer and finish coat. On top of the original paint, a bullet-proof coating of something and several layers of primer and finish were painted on the cars. This was done to make them look better (cover the dead paint and surface rust) before they left for their overseas trip.

When you ask for an estimate, tell him that you are taking the car apart in pieces, the interior will be taken out, and that you will reassemble the pieces after they are painted. Specify you want the best paint and primer (I used Glasurit paints). This estimate will be a "ball park" figure because the rust and body work may not be seen until the paint comes off.

2. Porsche Mechanic (Independent or Dealer)

Make sure that you get their phone number and keep it handy. You will need it when you are ready to buy parts and when you get stuck taking something apart or putting it back together. Ask them their opinion about what you are about to do. Some Porsches may lose their value if they are repainted.

3. Glass Man

If you plan on having your windows taken out (which I strongly suggest), you will need to contact an auto glass man who has actually put windows in a Porsche 911 and knows what they are doing. Taking out and putting in a Porsche window is not for the mechanic who says, "I know how to put a PORCH window in, just get me a bigger hammer".

4. Significant Other

After 28 years of marriage, I can assure you that her opinion is number 1 on my list. Without my wife's support, before, during and after the projects, putting Band-aids on my cut knuckles, reassuring me that what I just screwed up can be fixed, and allowing me to put some of the parts in the spare bedroom, I could not have completed my projects.

As you can see, it is imperative that you obtain proper advice from the "Professionals" in order for you to make the correct decision on your restoration project.

In Part II "Starting the Project", we will examine the equipment, tools, supplies, techniques, and procedures in "Taking a 911 Apart, Repainting and Putting it Back Together".


If you have any question, advice, or stories, please contact me at ecoon@netside.com
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Last Update: 12-Nov-1996 12:00 PM ET