Restoring a 1965 Porsche 911

P. Michael Henderson

Back around 1983, I got the bug to restore an old Porsche.  I was not inexperienced in working on cars, however.  I started with a 1946 Ford - my first car - and completely rebuilt the engine (flat head six).  I had owned two Volkswagens earlier in my life and had done major work on them.  For example, I threw a rod on one of them and repaired the engine (new crank, new main and connecting rod inserts, etc.). I had also owned a Chevy Vega and had replaced the engine with a short block with pressed in cylinder liners.  I had also restored a Porsche 912 earlier.  I wanted to do a 911 because of the higher power of the 6 cylinder boxer engine.  I found a 1965 (first year of manufacture).  Here's some "before" pictures.

I put the Porsche in the garage and pulled the engine.  It wouldn't run again for quite a while.

Then I started disassembling the engine.

And the transmission.

By the time I had it all apart, I had parts all over the garage floor.  I think there are parts of another engine I was working on in the mess, also.  If you look in the wheelbarrow, there's what appears to be a 4 cylinder engine block there.

Concurrently with the work on the engine internals, I sand blasted all the engine sheet metal parts and primed and spray painted them.  There are some 912 parts in the mix here.  The 912 had an engine that was very similar to the Volkswagen engine.

There are 912 parts included in this picture, also.  So I must have been doing the 912 and the 911 at the same time.

I rebuilt the carburetors, using a carburetor kit.   There are six carburetors, one for each cylinder.

I have metric tools and measuring instruments so I measured all the critical parts of the engine (e.g., main and crank journals, camshaft bearing surfaces, cylinder diameters).  Surprisingly, things measured out pretty well.  I replaced all the bearing inserts, put in new rings, and all new gaskets and started putting the engine back together.  Note how clean all the external parts are. I washed and scrubbed every part with solvent and a wire brush to get all the accumulated gunk off.

Here you can see the sheet metal parts and the carburetors going on.

Just about complete now.  New hoses, wires and filters.

Now, it's time to start the body work.  First, I had to remove everything from the body.

This car had bad rust in the lower parts - the floor pan and the rocker panels were in bad shape.  I eventually cut out the floor pan and replaced it with a new pan.  Had to weld it in.  More about the later. You can see in the picture above that I've already cut out the rocker panels.

The next step was the have the body dipped to remove the paint and rust.  Here's a picture of the guy who came to pick up the body.

And here's the body going into the paint remover chemicals.

Here's the body after it came out of the paint remover chemicals.  Before it could go into the rust remover there was some tar type gunk on the bottom that had to be removed.  I went to their place and did the removal to save some money.  I used a welding torch to burn the gunk off - that's why my face is so dark, from the soot from the burning.

Then the body was brought back to my house for me to do the metal repair - for example, replacing the pan.  For smaller sections where there was some metal damage, I welded some sheet metal over the damage.  In this next picture, you can see my 912 in the driveway. 

I bought a sunroof mechanism and installed it in the roof. 

The next picture shows the sunroof with the sliding panel in place.  The sunroof mechanism was taken from a scrapped Porsche and it was black - so the sliding panel is black.

Once all the body work was done, it was time to paint the car.  Rather than paint it myself (which I had done on the 912) I decided to get it professionally painted.  This first picture shows the rear fender flares that I bought and had the painter install.

Here's the body in process.  The primer has been applied and the red material is to get a smooth surface prior to painting.

You can see the fender flares in the next picture.  He really did a good job blending the fender into the body.

Here's the first picture with the finish coat.  The color is Quartz Gray Metallic which is a Porsche color.  The painter preferred Porsche red but I wanted a color that was a bit more subdued.

After it was all painted, it was delivered to my house and I started putting everything back together.  I made my own wiring harness for the car.

And that was it.  The car was finally finished.  Here's a few pictures of the final product.


The engine in this car was 2 liters, and while 2 liters may seem small, especially today, the car would definitely get up and go.  It didn't get very good gas mileage, maybe 12 MPG.  Economy was not what they were designing for back in those days.  The car was a lot of fun to drive but it had a very stiff suspension and my wife hated it because of that.  It also did not have power steering or power brakes. 

I learned some things in doing this project.  The primary lesson was that when you restore an old car, what you wind up with is an old car.  The second thing I learned was that I enjoyed working on the car a lot more than I enjoyed driving the car.  I eventually sold the car.  I wonder where it is today.