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Location: San Diego, CA
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Which 911 to hotrod?

Looking to build a modest 911 for weekend spirited driving (canyon carving), occasional track days/autocross and still comfortable enough that my wife will be agreeable on weekend getaways. Original, correct etc not a concern. AC not wanted.

I live in San Diego (Smog legal an issue) and am very comfortable building and maintaining my own cars. I do not care for “backdating” and am NOT willing to widen a narrow body. I’m looking for a project in the $25k range and expect to rebuild the suspension and engine, over time. I am fully aware of the “slippery slope” and the costs involved.

I’ve found several projects that fit the bill, but am unsure if the earlier narrow body (narrow tire) options will satisfy my desires for canyon carving.

74-75
SMOG Exempt!! Love the look, but will the narrow body hold back the handling capabilities?

76-77
Will engine swap (3.2) and referee to make smog legal. Same narrow body issue as above

78-83
If the engines healthy or requires min TLC (head work/studs etc) I would probably stick with the 3.0. Otherwise swap in a 3.2. In my opinion, the SC (and Carrera) body is perfect.

Any advice on Middie vs. SC? Will the narrow body satisfy a spirited driving junky? Smog exempt is a huge positive…

Thanks in advance for any insight.

Last edited by Solamar; 11-09-2018 at 01:52 PM..
Old 11-09-2018, 01:32 PM
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living in CA and a building a hot rod? 75 or earlier so you don't have to deal with smog. straight up.

you just have to deal with rust!

i have a '76 (with a '75 title so i'm good on smog) with a 3.2 and am building a '74 as we speak. my '76 is narrow and i love it. 205's in the back are just fine with properly set up suspension and the 220ish HP i have.

i know a number of guys in state that have build hot rods out of SC's and carrera's with big motors, but the smog issue for them is dicey, and in SD you're not going get around it without some serious jiu jitsu and some "friends".

that is precisely why i bought the cars i did, no worries on either, i can build them however i want.

if you want bigger HP, you can always weld up some SC flares and run up to 245's in back...
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Old 11-09-2018, 01:40 PM
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I agree with dwelle, it's way cheaper to make HP when you don't have to deal with smog. Late 70s/early 80s cars had horsepower robbing emissions controls and sourcing a 3.2 isn't cheap (you'd be better off just buying a stock 3.2 car). In a 74 car, the sky is the limit; ITBS, coil on plug, hotrod exhaust, ect.
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Old 11-09-2018, 01:56 PM
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You know, it kind of depends on a number of factors what is best.

For a full on DIY project a '74 -'75 is the sweet spot.

If you are planning on more than about 150 hp, you will want to flair the rear fenders, IMO, to SC or Carrera. Not a big deal if you or a friend knows how to weld. (and paint).

The motors are a slippery slope. A running 3,0 or 3,2 can cost a good amount these days. Then you have to decide what, if any, mods you want to make. That is assuming you don't have to do a complete rebuild. You should probably start researching motors as it may take a while to find exactly what you want. Be careful, there are a lot of "running when pulled" or "some German guy rebuilt this for his own use" stories out there.

Nothing wrong with a well built 2,7 or better a 2,8 or 2,9. In a light weight car those can be exciting.

What ever you get, make sure it doesn't have rust issues. The older cars, before '76, are VERY prone to rust, so be careful.

If you can find a stalled project that has most of what you want, you will be time and money ahead. These 911 projects can take years and tons of cash to finish.

In San Diego, you should check out an auto cross at Qualcomm put on by the local PCASDR. Find Mark and Steve from Black Forest and have a chat with them, as they are the experts on the aircooled hotrods in SD.

Good luck.
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Old 11-09-2018, 02:33 PM
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Great info, thank you all!

Sounds like the unicorn that I should be on the lookout for is a '74-'75, rust free, preferably with a serviceable 2.7. ITB's and a free flowing exhaust. That's my kinda fun!

'76-'77 probably not worth the headache, unless kept stock.

I think a SC might be my sweet spot. A stock 3.2 swap would be legal and fun. Maybe swap exhaust every two years... @Trackrash "running when pulled" Feeling lucky punk?
Old 11-09-2018, 03:04 PM
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Personally, i would go with a smog exempt car or go with a 3.2L. If given the choice between a 3.2L Motronic vs a 3.0 CIS car, the Motronic is far easier to work with.

Also you can build a 'hot' 3.2L (or 3.4) and still get it to pass smog.

Finding a Carrera at a $25k entry level may be difficult though.
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Old 11-09-2018, 03:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trackrash View Post
In San Diego, you should check out an auto cross at Qualcomm put on by the local PCASDR. Find Mark and Steve from Black Forest and have a chat with them, as they are the experts on the aircooled hotrods in SD.
I still think of it as Jack Murphy Stadium, auto crossed there in the '80s with my dad. Now it's SDCCU Stadium and was just voted for demolition... Hope the auto cross is around for a few more years, or they find another venue.

Last edited by Solamar; 11-09-2018 at 03:20 PM..
Old 11-09-2018, 03:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Techno Duck View Post
Personally, i would go with a smog exempt car or go with a 3.2L. If given the choice between a 3.2L Motronic vs a 3.0 CIS car, the Motronic is far easier to work with.
I've been researching alot about the CIS system. I think I would be up for the challenge, except the increasingly obsolete parts make me nervous. Upgrading to EFI looks like a logical step, but sneaking that past a smog check would be a bit of a gamble. Motronic definitely has my interest.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Techno Duck View Post
Finding a Carrera at a $25k entry level may be difficult though.
Definitely. Horse trading my way up from an SC seems more probably.
Old 11-09-2018, 03:20 PM
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my '76 was $25K with 12k miles on a rebuilt 3.2 and a complete suspension overhaul (21/28mm TB's, sway bars, rubber, etc.). driver paint, a little accident history, and full documentation for the life of the car. those deals don't grow on trees, but they're out there. i found mine out of state. the perfect base for a hot rod, and precisely why i bought it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trackrash View Post
If you are planning on more than about 150 hp, you will want to flair the rear fenders, IMO, to SC or Carrera. Not a big deal if you or a friend knows how to weld. (and paint).
i disagree. my 3.2 is stock with SSI's and a chip. i figure it's 220ish HP in a 2400 lb. car and i see no need for wider tires than the 205's i run in back. i drive the wheels off that pig and i've never found myself wanting for more rubber in back even when i had it at buttonwillow en route to rennsport this year.

the SC flares would be nice, but i woudn't let it deter me from the right car.

and i think narrow bodied hot rods are all that...
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Old 11-09-2018, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwelle View Post
my '76 was $25K with 12k miles on a rebuilt 3.2 and a complete suspension overhaul (21/28mm TB's, sway bars, rubber, etc.). driver paint, a little accident history, and full documentation for the life of the car. those deals don't grow on trees, but they're out there. i found mine out of state. the perfect base for a hot rod, and precisely why i bought it.



i disagree. my 3.2 is stock with SSI's and a chip. i figure it's 220ish HP in a 2400 lb. car and i see no need for wider tires than the 205's i run in back. i drive the wheels off that pig and i've never found myself wanting for more rubber in back even when i had it at buttonwillow en route to rennsport this year.

the SC flares would be nice, but i woudn't let it deter me from the right car.

and i think narrow bodied hot rods are all that...
Agree on the wider rubber. Every time I get in a light car with skinny tires, I have a blast. They feel so light on their feet in comparison to modern cars. My Lotus Exige S had 195s in front and 225s in the back, weighed in at 2000 lbs, 220 hp, and it was flat out incredible what that thing could do.

Solamar, I'd go with a 74, hotrod it, keep it on (relatively) skinny tires and have a blast.
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Old 11-09-2018, 05:09 PM
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A SC is a really great car. Fast, light, reliable, rev's well. It would make a good basis to start working on.
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Old 11-09-2018, 06:38 PM
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My 2 worth
newer will be a little stiffer, a little heavier and a little less rust prone

3.2 Motronic > 3.2 CIS > 3.0 CIS > 2.7 CIS

SC/Carrera flares allow wheels & tires that potentially provide more grip than n/b

for an early car w/ relatively low hp/torque keep the weight down, especially at the ends and wheels, a corollary to that is to keep the tire height down, each 1" of tire height has a gearing cost of ~12lb-ft, on an early '80s US SC that's ~6%, it's worse % on a 2.7

Lots of things to juggle there but there are 2 basic ways to go
1) ealy n/b w/ a square or close to square setup

2) SC/Carrera body w/ the a more typical staggered setup

Either way weight loss and keeping tire height in check is the plan for a stockish engine
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Old 11-10-2018, 06:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Verburg View Post
My 2 worth
newer will be a little stiffer, a little heavier and a little less rust prone

3.2 Motronic > 3.2 CIS > 3.0 CIS > 2.7 CIS

SC/Carrera flares allow wheels & tires that potentially provide more grip than n/b

for an early car w/ relatively low hp/torque keep the weight down, especially at the ends and wheels, a corollary to that is to keep the tire height down, each 1" of tire height has a gearing cost of ~12lb-ft, on an early '80s US SC that's ~6%, it's worse % on a 2.7

Lots of things to juggle there but there are 2 basic ways to go
1) ealy n/b w/ a square or close to square setup

2) SC/Carrera body w/ the a more typical staggered setup

Either way weight loss and keeping tire height in check is the plan for a stockish engine
Anecdotal to Bill's advice - I run a 205/50 and 225/50 on 15X6 and 15X7 respectively. Stock non LSD 75 915 and stock 2.7 CIS with SSI and custom 2 out muffler. Lightness added all over and it's a fun little ride. That tired 2.7 can't be putting out more than 160 hp and it's a zippy little go-cart.

Dropped lbs:

Interior -100lbs at least which includes all audio components, RS carpet rear seat delete, rear sound deadening pads and flooring tar delete, sunroof delete, rs door cards etc.

Exterior -200lbs or so with euro crush tubes, bumperettes and rubber trim delete on the back, heat back date, smog delete, SSI, plastic tail light housings. Rocker delete.

Frunk - 100lbs (Spare, pump, jack) window wash pump and reservoir, fogs.

Some other low hanging fruit would be a lighter battery, and an MK muffler. Could save 60 or more pounds between the two of those.

I could also go lighter weight seats and shave another 20lbs.
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Old 11-10-2018, 07:26 AM
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Old 11-10-2018, 07:38 AM
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Old 11-10-2018, 07:38 AM
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Right now acording to my current taste I opt for a 76 slimbody (got brake bosster) and I'd put a 3.2 inside.
The rest would be 7/8x15 Fuchs, rollbar, Deser seats and some decals.
Done.
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Old 11-10-2018, 07:46 AM
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My 2 cents. Performance is all about power/weight. You can add power, expensive, or remove weight, much less. On a early car with two 30lb batteries, just remove one. Replace the 30lb stock muffler with a M&K one at only 10lb. There's 40lbs at the extreme ends of the car.

Add big fender flares and big tires, not my bag, keep the fusch light wheels but add softer tires, mine are 180's.

Yes rust is an issue with early cars so get under and check before you buy. But they are really reliable if used on a regular basis. I used to drive mine 104 miles round trip to work every day in Oregon, rain snow and sun, she never let me down. I now have 242,000 miles on her with 21,000 on my upgraded twin plug 3.0L.
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Old 11-10-2018, 10:13 AM
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Quote:
On a early car with two 30lb batteries, just remove one. Replace the 30lb stock muffler with a M&K one at only 10lb. There's 40lbs at the extreme ends of the car.

Early 911 is probably a budget buster but if you do manage to find one a trick we use is to replace the dual expensive heavy auto batteries with dual inexpensive lighter garden tractor batteries. Retains the front weight bias as it was and they do seem to work well. Glad to help with light weight exhaust components of course.

.
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Old 11-10-2018, 10:24 AM
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Quote:
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^^^^ this ^^^

Assuming it checks out as being rust-free and in good for the mileage mechanical shape. Gives you a nice starting point at a good price point -- suspect it'll need a top-end rebuild to address valve guide wear, etc. at some point soon, but that would both give you time to appreciate a "driver" 3.2 carrera for what it is stock and would eventually open up a lot of possibilities for mechanical hot-rodding and you could go a variety of different ways finish-wise too . . . as others have said, a 3.2 is a nice starting point for smog-compliant hotrodding.
Old 11-10-2018, 11:56 AM
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Your right Brian with the weight. First I removed the left battery, then the spare and with your muffler I was moving the weight towards the middle. I added a large oil cooler in the right fender and decided to improve the air flow over it I moved the battery into the smugglers box and fabbed up the fender area to restrict the air flow entirely thru the cooler.
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Old 11-10-2018, 02:17 PM
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