There has been much more lost in the Northern California wildfires than cars. Really, machines don’t matter when lives are lost and homes destroyed, so we must keep perspective. Still... machines can mean something to us, so allow me a moment to mourn this one.
This was my dear friend Donny’s ‘71 914, a very special project, a labor of love in which I was fortunate to share a little. Almost nothing in the car remained standard. As a truly gifted machinist, fabricator, and engineer, he left no stone unturned from the moment this project began as a shell on a dolly in a small garage in Morro Bay, California in the early 2000's. Countless nights of our early 20's were spent around this car and our buddy Rob’s Mk2 GTI in that garage. The entire chassis was seam welded, he fabricated a beautiful integrated roll and chassis strengthening structure, did all the bodywork and paint himself at the local community college, designed and built his own aluminum dry sump tank to enable the fitment of the 2.8L MFI RSR clone engine. He designed and manufactured his own billet intermediate plate for the 901 gearbox. The engine and transmission alone took years to procure parts for, not only because some pieces were hard to find but because it was all done on a small budget while he worked at a parts house and tiny machine shop. He made his own 3-piece Fuchs using BBS barrels, and made his own adapters for the Boxster brakes. The entire wiring harness was custom, with a modern fuse and relay panel in an aluminum box he made up front. The dash was from a longnose 911, with all 5 gauges, upholstered in Alcantara with red stitching by him. It was a wonderful machine, and made some of the most glorious noise I’ve ever heard. It was a testament to what one can do with patience and skill, instead of just buying something. Had this car ever made a public debut it would have blown minds, made magazines, but it was a car that you’d never find all the tricks on unless he showed you.
Donny took a job in Sydney, Australia about 10 years ago and the car went into storage here, not yet complete. He wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of importing it to Australia, not just because he’d have to make it RHD, but because they’d make him cut out the front of his roll structure for road use. This is the only picture I have of it, from when I dug it out of that storage for it to move to a barn in Santa Rosa a few years back... the one that went up last night. Donny called me about 9pm from Sydney, said I was the guy he wanted to call about it. I damn near teared up. I felt loss for a special car, but mostly for him. He kept repeating, “ I just wanted to finish it...” I wanted him to finish it, too.