One of the most exciting and fun challenges that I do in my job is transforming a dilapidated vehicle into something that my customer and I can be proud of: a vehicle that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also is mechanically sound and reliable. There’s nothing more satisfying than being the first person to drive a car that has been off the road for 10 or 20 years! Taking pride in craftsmanship is something that is very important to me and as a consumer I’ve noticed this pride has been dwindling….in other words, they don’t make ‘em like they used to! As I continue this blog, I’m sure this will be a recurring theme.
So here’s the story of Craig’s 1975 914 2.0L. Craig found this beast in a carport in the greater Seattle area years ago and it was very apparent that it had not moved in a decade or so. The car was in pretty decent condition, but like many “barn finds” there would be a few surprises once we got into the project. The plan from the very beginning was to convert this car to a 6 cylinder. So Craig sourced a 911 engine and sent it to Jack Morris of Morris Brothers Motorsports in Murray, UT to have a long block built. At that time he also sent the triple throat Webers to PMO for a rebuild.
Then it was my turn to dive into this project. I figured I’d start by installing the Patrick Motorsports frame stiffener kit, but before I did that I had to pull the running gear and all of the rear suspension. The stiffener kit is very nice and takes a bit of trimming and bending to fit correctly, but even a moderately skilled fabricator can install this with ease. The plates come with a crap ton of holes drilled in them for plug welding. I also opted to fully weld around the plates for added strength and to completely seal them.
Next was the idea to relocate the battery to the front of the car. This car had A/C at one point in its life, so the bottom trunk area was hacked to house the condenser. So first thing was to source a repro trunk panel and graft it in. The other issue that had to be repaired was the dreaded “hell hole”. It was obvious that the battery had leaked because the original battery tray was pretty much gone, but I had no idea how bad it was until I started picking away at it. I call these types of rust repairs “Pandora’s Box” because once you open it up it seems to get out of control! So little by little I cut, fabbed, and welded up the rust damage. When all the dust cleared, I was very happy with the repair. I decided that running the main battery cable along the longitudinal inside the passenger side was the best route. In the engine compartment is a marine grade fusible link. Another section of cable then connects the starter to the main cable and the factory wiring harness. It’s very clean and makes for an easy disconnect for when the running gear needs to be removed.
After the rust repair was completed, it was time to locate and fit the engine mount. There are a number of 914/6 engine mounts available either from Patrick Motorsports or Pelican Parts, to name a few. (Craig had bought the mount with the car and enough time had passed that we couldn’t remember who made it, but we’re pretty sure it’s a Pelican Parts unit.) I bolted the freshly built 911 longblock to the stock 914 transaxle, installed both parts of the mount and lifted the assembly into the engine compartment with a modified motorcycle lift. You know what the old adage says: measure twice, cut once…so I then proceeded to measure about 20 times before tack welding the mount to the firewall. I did have to trim and modify the mount slightly to clear some of the cables. Also, the brake lines need to be modified to clear the mount. Once everything was lined up, the engine/trans assembly was dropped and the mount was fully welded.
Next was sorting the fuel system. Luckily the fuel tank was very clean, so I just removed it and blew it out thoroughly. Since I was converting this car from fuel injection to carburetors, there was no need for the return line on the tank. Originally, the 10mm line was the main fuel line, and the 7mm line was the return. I wanted the whole system to be 7mm, so I welded up the 10mm bung and swapped the 7mm and 10mm and installed a new screen. I then mounted a Pierburg electric fuel pump in the engine compartment and utilized the original wiring harness with the pump. Easy and clean!
With the fuel system in good shape, the main wiring sorted, and the rust repair done, I moved on to dressing the engine for installation. The engine was a basket case, so finding the correct fan shroud and other bits proved to be a bit of a challenge. So I put that issue in Craig’s hands, and in no time at all he found and refinished all of the parts needed. (Man, I dig customers like Craig!) I mounted the alternator/fan, fan shroud, carbs, etc. I modified the side engine tins to accept fresh air heat tubes, and sent off the tin kit to be powder coated. Now I could set up the throttle linkage. We used Patrick Motorsports 914/6 cable kit and linkage from PMO. Unfortunately, the linkage didn’t jive with the cable kit so I had to fabricate a bellcrank. Next I modified the engine wiring harness, deleting wiring for fuel injection components and the voltage regulator. Once again, everything was tidy and clean!
After much discussion about what oil tank to use, in the end, we decided on the 914/6 tank from Patrick Motorsports. What’s interesting to note is that the 914/6 was produced only from 1970-1972. The oil tank mounts inside the driver’s side rear quarter panel and the hoses, oil fill, and filter all protrude into the engine compartment. There are pressings in the body panels where these fittings protrude. The fascinating point is that the 914 retained these pressings through the entire production run. Sure did make it easy to mount the oil tank! Another thing to note is that the Patrick Motorsport kit comes with a shortened pipe that needs to be TIG welded to a stock 911 oil cooler in place of the longer pipe – either that or use an actual 914/6 cooler, otherwise there will be no clearance for the oil hose next to the trailing arm.
To wrap up the project, I renewed the entire brake system, including sending the calipers to Goldline Brakes for a rebuild. There was discussion about upgrading to 911 brakes, but ultimately we decided to just refresh the stock ones and upgrade them later if needed. After I had completed the brake installation, I hopped in the driver seat to bleed the brakes…only to find out the pedal would not move an inch! I removed the pedal cluster and tried like hell to free up that pedal and just could not get it apart to rebush it! Luckily I had a freshly rebuilt 911 cluster on the shelf. I just had to cut the brake switch mount off the 914 cluster and weld it on the 911 one. After replacing the cables, I installed the running gear, rear suspension, and axles. Ready for break in!
With a huge learning curve, this build was both enjoyable and frustrating. Sure, I’d do a few things a bit different next time, but all in all I’m very pleased with the outcome, and looking forward to doing another one! They may not make ‘em like they used to, but with the right parts and dedicated effort, we can restore them to something close.
So, who needs a 914/6 built?