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Jack Olsen's Avatar
 
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Building a better Black Beauty #10: The Recap

If you've gone to this link from the recent Pelican Parts ad,
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The setup:

Over the course of a year and a half, I'd built up a 73 911T with a stiffer suspension, better brakes and a 3.6 liter engine. Every step of the way, I'd gotten input and advice from people here on Pelican. What's more, Pelicanite Tyson Schmidt had moved down to Los Angeles and gone to work for Pelicanite Dave Bouzaglou at TRE Automotive. In short order, my car was exclusively maintained (and frequently improved) by guys I'd met through this BBS.

On November 9th and 10th, Tyson, Dave and I were all driving in the Alfa Romeo Club's time trial at Laguna Seca. All three of us were doing well, but by the last run on Sunday, Dave and Tyson decided to head back. It was going to be two hours before the final (timed) runs, and it looked like it would make more sense for them to get a head start on the seven-hour drive home.

Hubris had a hold on me, though. I was doing well enough so that it looked like I had a lock on fastest time of day. I told them I was going to wait and do the timed run. Bad decision -- but you never know that at the time.

Out I went, on cold tires, eager to kick everyone else's butt. Instead, I turned a little too early into Turn 9, and went into the (wet) outfield area, where I proceeded to slide into a concrete wall at somewhere between 60 and 80 mph.

Ouch. Ouch, ouch, ouch.

I wasn't hurt, but the car was. Immediately, I had a number of different offers of help. Track guys are like that. Hans Stoehr, who was racing a backdated lightweight SC, graciously let me put my car on his trailer to get the broken Black Beauty back to Los Angeles.



Click on any image for a larger version. The pictures in this post are from earlier today. The car still doesn't have its final glass pieces, deco trim or badging, and the muffler needs to be painted and the headlights are held on with tape. Final buffing and detailing haven't been done, either. My apologies to kevin for posting pictures of his work before he's finished.

The long and the short of it:

The frame of the car was bent pretty badly. There wasn't a corner of the car's greenhouse that was still straight. It had protected me, but at a cost to its own structural soundness. In addition, the crash revealed some bondo work that we hadn't previously known about. There was also some rust, which was only revealed when sections of the unibody had been torn open.



Right from the start Dave Bouzaglou put in a lot of time helping me formulate a plan for either putting the old car back together or moving the good stuff from the old car into a new tub. I solicited opinions online about what other changes might make sense, since it would be depressing to spend a whole lot of money only to re-create the identical car I'd had before. If you're going to put in that much effort, why not make it better?



I decided to cut the car's weight, widen its track, improve its suspension, brakes, and improve its safety. All of this would have to be done on an incredibly tight budget (since I hadn't won the lottery or stumbled upon a heretofore untapped trust fund). I was going to bite the bullet and write some checks. The alternative -- not having a 911 -- just didn't seem possible.



I went to see Peter at Rennspeed Motorsports as soon as I knew I was going with a widebody. He'd made most of the fiberglass parts for BB1, and I'd always been happy with the fit of his pieces -- and his prices were lower than anybody I'd ever found. It turned out to be a smart decision, since Peter also happened to have a 1972 911T tub at his shop that he'd been saving to use for an RS replica project. It was rust-free, and so nice that I almost couldn't bring myself to strip it down and make it the body donor for the bew Black Beauty. But I managed to do it, and the availability of this tub tipped the scales in favor of giving BB2 a better, and never-damaged chassis.

Last edited by Jack Olsen; 03-13-2003 at 08:46 PM..
Old 03-13-2003, 08:37 PM
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Within 2 weeks of the crash, Peter had helped me source a donor tub and the fiberglass parts to make a widebody early car. When I was unable to locate an S-style front bumper that would work with front flares, Peter simply made one for me. It was above and beyond the call of duty, but his dedication to this project turned out to be the norm, rather than the exception.



Next up, Dave, Tyson and I put together a plan for the new car's suspension. Tyson had some ideas about modifying existing 911 components to eliminate most of the trade-offs associated with a Turbo-width front end, and I went out and solicited advice and help from Cary Eisenlohr (of ERP), Steve Weiner (of Rennsport Systems), Craig Watkins (of Smart Racing) and Dave Klym (of Fabcar) to see if Tyson's idea would be viable. The end result was that Tyson and his ideas won the respect of some of the country's biggest experts on 911 suspension. We started sourcing parts and modifications from ERP, Smart Racing, Fabcar and JRZ.




Four weeks after the crash, I had a pretty firm plan for what we were going to do, and I'd stripped the donor car of most of its exterior and interior. The goal was to build the car in 12 weeks, which was an insanely short amount of time. But no one told me it couldn't be done, so everyone jumped in and got to work.

Since parts were going to take some time to round up, we decided to do the basic mods on the chassis (reinforcements and rear flares), and then send the car to Automotive Innovations and Restorations, in Van Nuys, where KevinP73 (his Pelicanite handle) had agreed to fabricate and paint the new RSR-style 911. I'd seen Kevin's work on 911's before, and had also gotten to know him through Pelican. He'd done paint work on the previous version of Black Beauty, and had managed to match its unusual dark gray color, which was no easy trick. This time, we decided to make Black Beauty truly black, and Kevin offered to put a camera in his shop, so that the entire world could watch him putting together an extremely complicated project on an extremely short schedule.



Body work and paint is usually a kind of 'twilight zone' of automotive work. The schedules are long, and very flexible, and due dates are treated pretty casually. But Kevin got right to work, and managed to stay on schedule, even with the added burden of the on-line scrutiny of thousands of Pelicanites. I was impressed.

When Kevin had gotten the flares, doors and bumpers fitted, and put paint on the body, the shell was moved over to TRE while Kevin finished up painting the doors, tails and other extra pieces. Tyson Schmidt was then free to start with a clean sheet of paper, and conceive of, design, and construct the heart and soul of BB2. This is one of those jobs that seems complicated (move every main system from one car over to another, which isn't the same year, even), while simultaneously incorporating dozens of design improvements.
Old 03-13-2003, 08:37 PM
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It seems really complicated. But when you start doing it, you realize it's actually enormously complicated. Going to coil-overs, power brakes, a 72-style oil system, a repositioned engine and one-of-a-kind suspension are all well and good -- until you try to do them all simultaneously, as parts continue to trickle in, and you see how tweaking one part of the car has a domino effect on other parts that need to be changed to accommodate it. Tyson put in a lot of 12-hour days and did a phenomenal amount of welding, grinding and fabrication to keep it all moving forward.



As I noted in another post, neither Tyson nor Kevin likes to compromise at all. When they do something, they want to both meet the deadline, and do everything with the kind of thoroughness that usually only is allowed when there isn't even a deadline to be met.

In less than two weeks, the engine was running again, and the car was rolling on an all-new suspension. It had parts from a bunch of different manufacturers, including many by Pelicanite Chuck Moreland's Elephant Racing. Tyson had made sure it all could work together as a unit.

Then the car went back to Kevin's for a mad rush of reassembly, color sanding, buffing, fitting (it wasn't until the end that the Lindsey Racing wheels were manufactured), and modifying. The shop-cam at Kevin's was back on line, and observant viewers could witness the car's owner showing up with bribes of Krispy Kremes, Girl Scout Cookies and pizzas. Hey, we all do what we can.

Finally, the car went back to TRE for some final pieces, its cage, and about a thousand last-minute details that we never could have anticipated. By 10 pm on the night before its first track day, I was cruising around the block in a completely original 911. It had taken exactly 12 weeks to do, just as we'd hoped.

And it kicked butt on the track at Willow Springs.



I remember at one point at the track I mentioned to Tyson that the turn-signal canceller wasn't working correctly. He said he'd fix it. But it made me suddenly realize that this car had been put together in one long jag, without any time allowed to test the different components or trouble-shoot all the different system -- and it all had come off without a hitch. Completely built up from thousands of different parts from two different cars and a dozen different suppliers, it went around the block once, and then -- without a wrench being turned -- ran all day at Willow Springs with two drivers -- not a single lose nut or faulty wiring connection.

Tyson got every single detail right on the first try.

Except for that turn-signal return.

Now, we're finishing up cosmetic details, like carpeting, door panels and putting in the electrical boxes that Pelicanite HawgRyder made for the car. It's minor stuff, but it can be done at a slightly more leisurely pace. The next track outing isn't until later this month.

A side note: HawgRyder, who made the electric boxes, is from Canada. The R-style lights were picked up at a shop in Switzerland by Pelicanite GeorgeK. The R-style backing plates are from South Africa. The motor is from Pelicanite Speedster94 in Germany. The brakes came from Singapore. The list goes on. The car was conceived of and put together with the active help of people all over the globe, mostly through this BBS.

So, in addition to Dave, Tyson, Kevin and Peter, I also need to thank hundreds of people on this board for their help and encouragement in putting this car together. Who woulda thunk when Wayne put this BBS together that one day it would allow guys from all over the planet to help a guy like me go from knowing absolutely nothing about 911's to having a car like Black Beauty 2.

All I can say is: Thank you.
Old 03-13-2003, 08:38 PM
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I'm just in awe, Jack. What a phenominal acheivement by you and the BB2 Crew.
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Old 03-13-2003, 08:49 PM
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Awesome!!
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Old 03-13-2003, 08:52 PM
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Thumbs up

Whoa... Just fantastic Jack
Old 03-13-2003, 09:09 PM
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you better not crash this one, because given your trajectory, BB3 will likely be classified as a weapon of mass destruction. The MAN will be keepin' you down...
Old 03-13-2003, 09:10 PM
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I just hope I can have a ride in BBII when I eventually get over there for a holiday
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Old 03-13-2003, 09:18 PM
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Old 03-13-2003, 09:18 PM
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Jack, there is no doubt in my mind that your car has the most beautiful, magnificent rear end in the world.

Somewhere J-Lo is quietly shedding a tear.
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Old 03-13-2003, 09:42 PM
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Jack is Back in Black!!!

Congrats...I will start the illustration this weekend, thanks for the great documentary on the building of BBII...great job to all who participated!
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Old 03-13-2003, 09:49 PM
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Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!

You must be a happy guy! (Your checkbook, on the other hand......!)
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Old 03-13-2003, 09:51 PM
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Congratulations!

Remember to treat her well
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Old 03-13-2003, 10:24 PM
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Jack, a fat rearended air conditioned big motored shiney race car, with a cup holder and timed interior light for the street!!! Man I like your style, Kevin
Old 03-13-2003, 10:34 PM
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A well written recap, and one gorgeous machine.
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Old 03-13-2003, 10:41 PM
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You have taken something bad (crashing BB1), done something amazing (building BB2). Congratulation to all involved and thanks for sharing the process.
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Old 03-13-2003, 10:48 PM
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It's nice to know someone is living all our dreams!

Good luck with it and here's hoping you can keep it straight
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Old 03-13-2003, 11:26 PM
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That is officially now the best looking 911 in my books. My dad used to own a panelbeaters/bodyshop and I know how schedules can slip. You guys did amazingly well, well done to all the BB2 crew.

Good luck and thanks for taking the time out to share your experiences, I look forward to seeing her kick some butt.

Cheers Jakes
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Old 03-14-2003, 12:09 AM
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AMAZING!!

What a great job in so little time!

Jakes, how about a UK Pelican trip to LA sometime 400 Return!
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Old 03-14-2003, 12:21 AM
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Well done Jack, Tyson, Kevin et all
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Old 03-14-2003, 12:25 AM
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