A couple of months back, I introduced you to Project 964. Now it’s time to finally embark on its restomod journey – cue needle skipping and bouncing off a spinning record…
I’m going to be brutally honest here: While I do have images – and the odd dream – of waking up and finding a shiny yellow Singer 964 parked on my driveway, in the real world I need to take it down a few notches. Actually, make that a couple of hundred notches.
Having been stored for years, the first step for my yellow 911 was to make it reliable. Scratch that… functional. Scratch that again… usable.
I got talking to Nao Fujita, the man behind Flat-4, an air-cooled specialist not too far from my place, to see if he could recommend someone that could take a look at the leaking, smoking and stinking 3.6 at the back of my car. Fujita-san suggested I get in touch with one of the best Porsche mechanics around, Mizobe-san at Funtec.
Funtec is precisely where you see the 964 in these pictures. My first visit was for a quick check-over, at which time Mizobe wasted no time getting the car up on the shop’s lift.
Within just a few minutes he had removed the plastic engine cover and exposed the flat-six motor in all of its overly-complicated but interesting-all-the-same glory.
Mizobe-san pinpointed two areas where oil was leaking from and showed me where it hit the hot exhaust, the source of all that blue and horrible-smelling smoke. Most of the oil appeared to be coming down from the head covers, but the crankcase seal was an exit point too.
He dropped the car down to the ground, and like an Olympic diver reverse-threw himself under the dash to check over the wiring. I had told Mizobe-san that the HVAC wasn’t working; it had zero fan speed and absolutely no temperature adjustment. He removed the controller with a special Porsche service tool, looked at the the connectors and then poked around behind the dash a bit more.
Mizobe-san used to be a mechanic for Porsche Mizawa, Japan’s official Porsche importer back in the day. He even spent time in Stuttgart, doing 964 training when the model was first released. These days, Mizobe keeps himself very busy at Funtec with everything from maintenance to full race car prep.
We eventually ended up in the fuse box, where Mizobe-san noticed some fuses were missing. He also pulled off the plastic shrouds on the fan units and commented that some components looked new, and must have been changed at some point.
Mizobe-san plugged his consult reader into the car’s OBD port, noting down the few errors that came up. He quickly managed to get the oil cooler fan working, which turned out to be the main reason why the engine was overheating, but concluded that it would take a little a bit more time to look over the non-operational HVAC, as both the fans and A/C compressor were fine.
I decided to leave the car at Funtec and take the train home, hoping Mizobe would be able to sort all the gremlins out.The Second Visit
Fast forward a few weeks, and my second visit to Funtec was timed to watch Mizobe-san install some of the service and repair parts he had ordered in.
Basically, we decided to address the issues that Mizobe thought would stop – or at greatly reduce – the oil leaks, without resorting to a complete engine out, rebuild and reseal. I came to the conclusion that if I ever had to do that, I’d want to upgrade the internals and end up with something a bit more special than stock. The time for that sort of thing is definitely not now though.
So this what we ended up getting, lot of seals, gaskets and other bits and pieces like chain tensioners and replacement rear engine mounts.
Mizobe-san doesn’t limit himself to Porsche work; he’ll look at whatever his clients bring in. The R129 Mercedes-Benz will always have a special place in my heart; it was in an SL 600 that I first took a ride to Daikoku PA way back in 1994.
By the time I arrived at Funtec, Mizobe had already tick some jobs off and the 964 was on the lift with its rear wheels removed.
I already mentioned the non-working oil cooler fan as reason for the overheating, but another thing that contributed to the issue was this rubber air guide – or what was left of it. This piece guides air coming from the crank-mounted fan down to the cooling jacket that surrounds the engine.
Mizobe-san really is a top guy. On my first visit, I’d told him that I needed to get rid of the window tint and glue reside on the back glass and rear side windows, as it looked plain nasty. He said he had a go at it with a solvent, and as it all came off quite easily he just kept going till all the glass was clean.
For the few weeks Project 964 lived at Funtec, Mizobe went over the car quite thoroughly, and overall he didn’t think it was in bad shape, especially given it’d been parked up for so long and prior to that had clocked up over 170,000km. Most of the components just had the expected signs of age and wear, nothing out of the ordinary.
He then showed me one of the replacement oil lines that had been ordered in. The punctured line he was replacing had been previously ‘repaired’ using clamp-secured silicone hoses over the holes. Nice.
The brakes do need some attention. Aside from the paint chipping off the calipers, there is very little meat left on the pads (front and back) and the discs are heavily worn. I may end up refurbishing the calipers, but I really want to go for an upgrade, simply because 964 C2 brakes are nothing short of pure crap even at the best of times.
With the car lifted higher up, I could take a proper look at the front and it’s much the same here – signs of use and some maintenance. For the suspension, I will be taking the car to Sun Beam in Tokyo so they can assess how to best approach that side of things.Peeling Back The Layers
Mizobe-san started taking apart the metal shroud that surrounds the engine and ensures air circulates around the heads and keeps heat from the exhaust out.
I had a little chuckle at how the bumpers are held in place – metal pipes cut and pinched at the end and fixed with self-tapping screws. This is exactly what Nakai-san does with his RWB kits.
Once the exhaust was dropped I had a clear view of the heater ducting that encapsulates the headers and channels hot air through the HVAC system. But some of those pipes had to come off too.
More disassembly followed. The gigantic and extremely heavy A/C compressor was removed and perched on the rear fender, and the distribution pulleys and belts were removed. Once the lower sections of the shrouding were off I finally saw the head covers for the first time.
The idea here was to support the rear of the engine with a jack on a few wooden blocks so the rear mounts could be replaced.
You can see what a new mount looks like on the left. The ones Mizobe-san removed were both broken and in two pieces with brittle rubber.
With one of the two distributors removed – remember these engines have twin-spark ignition – I was able to look down at the top part of the engine. I have nightmares to this day knowing how oily, dirty and grimy it all is, but when the time is right and it all comes out, a thorough clean or dry-ice blast will tidy this right up.
I marveled at how Mizobe, while struggling to reach bolts behind the rear bumper that he decided not to remove, would close his eyes to concentrate on finding them. This is what knowing an engine like the back of your hand looks like.
Yes, these did end up getting cleaned before going back on.
With the head covers off – two per side – we could replace the rubber seals and remedy one of the oil leaks.
This is supposed to be soft rubber, but it was more like brittle old plastic. No wonder these engines leak oil all the time.
With the covers off the valve lash could also be adjusted. This is something that should really be done every 10,000km, but who knows when it was last done on Project 964.
The parts kept coming off until Mizobe-san could reach and open up the chain cases.
The tensioners and chain ramps/rails were then replaced with brand new parts.
The reason I hung around so long was to see Mizobe pull the magnesium chain cases and then check out their condition. This brittle and delicate alloy has a tendency to deteriorate, which leads to needing new cases and covers and another hit to the bank balance. But thankfully, after scraping away the residue that the gasket left behind, it all seemed to be in decent condition and good enough to be reused.
It was at this point that I finally got a glimpse of the cooling vanes in one of the heads.
I left Mizobe-san to get on with it, feeling happy that my 911 was in good hands. In the next Project 964 instalment, I’ll let you know how it felt when I returned to Funtec to pick up the car.
Dino Dalle Carbonare