Restoring a Totaled Porsche 944
I will admit that jumping into a new car brand and a new model is a little intimidating. I’m pretty comfortable with Ford’s Mustangs after owning four of them, and I wouldn’t think twice about buying another to restore. They are pretty simple cars. The thought of jumping into building a Porsche that needs a complete restoration makes me a little timid. On one hand it’s just another car. It uses the same technology as I’m used to. Simple fuel injection, a distributor, and little mechanisms throughout the car. It’s nothing fancy. The hardest part I’m finding is where to buy parts. I’ve found all the spots to buy Mustang parts, from salvage yards to retail mega stores. Now I’m doing the same within the Porsche community. Timid or not, I’ll be working on the Porsche 944 I’m nicknaming ‘The Phoenix’ as it rises from the ashes in 2021.
If you watched the YouTube video of when I bought the Porsche 944 from Copart, you know that I found an insurance card from the previous owner. I was able to track him down and get the details on the car. If you’ve ever asked about maintenance on the Porsche 944, the most common answer is to check the timing belt history. They tend to fail after about 30,000 – 40,000 miles or 5 years, whichever comes first. I know the timing belt on miles has about 5,000 miles on it, and it’s been sitting for 3.5 years now. It’s supposed to be Kevlar reinforced to prevent degradation, but until I get my own hands on it, I won’t know if I should change it or not.
Knowing the engine should be in pretty good shape, I plan to change all of the fluids in the car. They’ve been sitting for more than 3 years now, and they weren’t freshly changed before the car was put into storage based on the engine oil being a darker brown. So here’s what is needed:
· Engine oil – There seems to be a big debate online for what brand and viscosity everyone thinks a 944 should use. I’ve seen recommendations from an 0w-40 viscosity to a 20w50 based on where you live and what temperatures you plan to use the 944 in. Given how much snow we can get in the winter, I plan to keep it garaged in the winter months. That means I need to be more concerned with high summer temperatures mostly. AMSOIL recommends a 5w-40 European oil for temperatures above 13 degrees F. With the engine oil change it needs a fresh oil filter. A Mann-Filters W71922 will do just the trick.
· The Porsche 944 has a manual 5-speed transaxle instead of the usual manual transmission. It saves a little space and helps with the weight distribution of the complete car. The transaxle for the Porsche 944 needs a standard gear oil, and the AMSOIL SEVERE GEAR® 80W-90 is a perfect option to keep the Porsche shifting smoothly.
· I don’t know when the coolant was last replaced, or if it ever has been replaced in the 130,000 miles on the odometer. It doesn’t need a specific coolant, so the AMSOIL Passenger Car & Light Truck Antifreeze & Coolant will replace whatever is in there now.
· The Power Steering reservoir seems to be leaking, which I have read is pretty common on the Porsche 944 after many years of use. Once I figure out if a new reservoir is needed, I’ll be replacing the fluid with AMSOIL OE Multi-Vehicle Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid in the bottle since I can pour it in from the top.
· When it is time to replace the brake fluid, AMSOIL DOT 3 and DOT 4 Synthetic Brake Fluid is a perfect match for the Porsche 944. I’ll be sure to go over the complete brake system to check for any leaks or anything else that needs to be greased with AMSOIL Synthetic Multi-Purpose Grease NLGI #2.
· The last that will definitely need to be replaced is the gasoline in the tank and then cleaning out the fuel system. It uses an electric pump that may or may not need to be replaced. I plan to take out the fuel tank and check out the pump and sensor to ensure they are in good working order. I’ll drain all old gasoline out of the tank, and then replace the flexible lines in the engine bay that seems to cause fires after they crack and leak on the exhaust. That should cover most of the gas in the complete fuel system but I’ll add a bottle of AMSOIL P.i. Performance Improver Gasoline Additive to clean out any deposits left over.
· Two filters not mentioned are the air and fuel filters. They should also be checked and probably replaced. The air filter may be in good shape and reusable, but the fuel filter will be replaced to ensure that the old degraded fuel doesn’t block the fuel filter. Do it all once and don’t worry about it again.
Once the Porsche 944 is good mechanically, I only see a few small things on the interior that need to be fixed. The A/C push button is missing, so that will need to be replaced. The carpets need a good cleaning. The previous owner says the sunroof doesn’t work either. I plan to essentially strip out the interior down to a shell and start over with cleaning and replacing. The hatch carpet is completely faded, so it needs to be dyed back to black. All the fun of an older car. I assume that the shell contains a lot of dust and dirt as they all seem to collect over the years. I’ll get it all out before building the car back up.
The last bit of work on ‘The Phoenix’ will be the exterior. Since it was near a building that burned to the ground, it has some residue on the paint. The paint can’t be saved, so I plan to take the body moldings off, replace the melted driver side taillight, and then vinyl wrap the car. I haven’t picked a color yet. It is a medium silver currently, but I may change it to another color. Red, black, and silver are the most common colors I’ve seen, so I may choose something totally different to stand out. Maybe a color changing film again?
I’m sure I’ll find that building the Porsche will be as stressful as any other car I’ve rebuilt from the ground up. That’s part of the fun, and part of the process to ensure it all works correctly. I’ve heard that the 2.5L engine in the Porsche 944 is lacking in power. I had originally thought to buy another wrecked car with an aluminum LS, and swap that into the car. 400hp with plenty of torque would be a very fun car at 2,700 pounds. There is another option I’ve been reading about in the 07k swap. That is a VW / Audi 5-cylinder engine, which can be turbocharged for 400hp. Boost Brothers Garage has made a kit available. I’ll need a Porsche 944 Turbo transaxle to support the power, plus a few other modifications, but it would keep the engine in the VW family. Think of it as the updated version if they released one today.
If you have a Porsche 944 and can offer some tips to work on them, I’m all ears. If you’re not sure what maintenance strategy will work best for your Porsche 944, contact us for help. Basin Motorsports is your local AMSOIL dealer, and are here to help keep your new vehicles and vintage restorations running smoothly. We utilize AMSOIL products extensively in all of our vehicles and equipment for our working 100-acre farm and motorsports endeavors.