DSC01875 porsche 911 Safari
Pistons & Pivots

1980 Porsche 911 SC Safari

Photos Deniz Merdano
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I'll just leave this one here. Grab yourself a warm cup of something, and enjoy the show.

No matter what generation you are from, if you enjoy and appreciate motoring, you have to love the 911. It's a 60-year-old platform that stole the hearts and the monies of many boys and girls. Eight generations of the iconic car, six decades to capture the imaginations of rear engine-loving drivers.

  • Original 911 (1963-1973)
    G series (1974-1989)
    964 (1988-1994)
    993 (1993-1998)
    996 (1997-2005)
    997 (2004-2012)
    991 (2011-2019)
    992 (2018-present)

Pistons and pivots porsche 911 safari deniz merdano 1

Yes, we went rallying in a 1980 Porsche 911.

Tell me about your car background and some of the cool vehicles you have owned.

Geoff - I grew up in a car enthusiast family. My grandfather was huge influence on me and he loved cars and planes. When I was very young, my grandfather and I would often head out for drives along Spanish Banks to hang out and spot cool cars.

My first car was a 1979 Camaro Z28. When I got it, it was in very rough condition, and I spent years bringing it back to life. It was a raw car with more than 350hp and a 4-speed transmission. Although I didn’t realize it at the time - its has set the expectation of what a fun car should drive like. I had to sell it to pay for my final year of university - if I could have it back I would!

Since then, I have owned many cool cars - including:

And now I have a

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When you have the engine in the rear and a flat belly car, you can get some remote places.

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The original Fuchs wheels first appeared in 1965.

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Big BF Goodridge KO2 rubber to give this car its off-road manners.

Geoff - For the last 10 years I have been very fortunate to be able to drive a 911. It’s a car I have always loved. When I was a kid, I had a paper route and I used to deliver to a doctor who lived down the street where I would walk by his G body 911 turbo every day. After that, the hook was set to get one in my life. When I moved back to Vancouver in 2014, I was finally fortunate enough to be able to buy a 911. I got a 2013 Carrera S. At the time, I was just getting back into biking and since it was my only car I put a bike rack on it. From that day forward my car was permanently linked to biking. Most of the kms on it are from driving out to rides or shuttling up Seymour or Cypress. It’s the perfect combination for someone who loves both cars and biking. Early morning drives to the mountain with no traffic / a spirited hill climb at high RPM up to the CBC parking lot / a rip down CBC and Cambodia followed by another spirited hill climb in the car!

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A silhouette worth admiring from behind.

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Not too shabby barreling down towards you either.

While I loved the effortless perfection of my newer 911s, my history with more vintage cars and the ground clearance limitations of my newer 911s, I decided to investigate a Safari build. It would also be a much better vintage car for my family to use (than the Corvette I had) which was important as my son loves cars!

Based on a referral I got from someone in the car community I reached out to Peter. He returned my email in less than 5 minutes …. and the rest is history!

Here are some good articles on Peter and Flatsix Classics:

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Custom-wrapped Momo steering wheel and leather dashboard.

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I am absolutely enamoured by the hand machined keys for this car.

When Peter and I first started talking about the build there was a feeling out process to make sure we were both on the same page (it didn’t take long to determine that we are very like-minded on a lot of stuff). It was clear to me very early on that he really wanted to build a Safari and he built this like one he would build for himself, and it shows in the end product. No detail is too small, and Peter has gone over and above to finish it to the highest standard possible. I honestly could not have worked with a better builder.

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Grab a 1980 911 and add dirt...

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Speedhole everything.

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Butterfly window vents.

Let's start with the engine, how modified is it?

The block is the original 3.0L but it has been completely refurbished to a 3.3L twin plug. Key components are a Rasant Injection with Motec Management. All the things you would do for a build of this quality have been done: balanced crank, polished heads, customs cams, etc.

What about the chassis and the suspension?

Total upgrade to Elephant Racing Safari system (Bilstein struts / coil overs / RSR sway bars). Body/chassis has been upgraded with reinforced spring mounts and shock towers and the car has a fully restored steering rack.

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Imagine running into Geoff on an FSR on a Sunday. What would you ask him?

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When you are going sideways at 100km/h on forest roads, you need downforce. The ducktail rear wing is absolute perfection.

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Getting ready to drop the clutch.

The interior is a nice mix of modern and original, tell me about the dials and the chronos.

Gauge pack done to RSR spec. Rally gauges are period correct, Heuer clock and stopwatch. This is a real cool touch to the car and the racing heritage. Most of the interior is all done with a custom matching leather wrap (Momo steering wheel / Recaro seats / roll bar / RSR door cards and tops / dash pad).

Here are some photos of the build I took:

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It's a full custom 911 Safari that ain't scared of rock strikes.

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It's not every day I get to stare at a classic Porsche barreling down at me through the mud.

On our drive up, you didn’t seem to struggle much on the loose steep gravel, how's the power put down on the ground?

The car is very powerful - but the power really peaks at the higher RPMs. With the tire and suspension set up, the car is set up perfectly to crawl up roads like that at ~3,000 rpms. The car is light, and the motor has a low center of gravity behind the back tires which give it tons of traction to climb up steep gravel roads.

What is the day-to-day driving experience like? Having owned non-power steering cars from the 70s, it can be a bit of a wrestle with a smaller steering wheel. 

It’s a workout for sure, especially when pulling out of parking spots and doing 3-point turns. With that said it’s amazing driving at speed as you really feel the road. Driving up that FSR you get so much feedback through the steering wheel it allows you to pick the best lines.

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What good is a toy if you don't get to play with it? Geoff and Peter doing things right!

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The satisfaction of watching mud coat a 911...

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Oh, hey! Where did the engine go?

The Safari idea is exploding like crazy with all makes and models these days. I’ve seen a few 80s safari 911s , what is so unique about them and especially this one?

The cool thing about Porsche is the racing heritage of the brand. Many people don’t realize that rally racing is a key part of that history, and that Porsche actually won the Paris - Dakar rally in Safari cars in the early 80s.

What makes this build unique is Peter’s approach to builds. He is very focused on details that make the cars “period correct” with all the features from cars (stock and race) of that era. If you look closely at the famous Rothmans 953 you will see a lot of the inspiration Peter used. You also see there are a number of modifications that have been done to keep a similar aesthetic of the S/C (e.g. the rear flares keep the SC like shape).

Peter also used a bunch of personal touches that fit me and the history of the donor car. The IWC clock, the rally gauges, the 911R aircraft window vents highlight some of the stuff for me and the gold brake calipers and brown steering wheel trim to reflect the original build spec of the car!

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Gold Brake calipers inspired by the Rothmans 953.

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Simple engine means compact size and spacious engine bay.

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Lever and rods to do some throttle and fuel management.

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IWC Chronos might have been my favourite interior detail.

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Placement of certain levers are a little confusing.

What do you think of the new 2024 911 Safari?

I love it and would have considered getting one but the market for newer limited run Porsche 911s has been out of control for a few years. Dealers have been charging mark-ups over and above the MSRP and only selling the cars to a select few people who buy multiple cars a year. The service level of the dealers has also gone significantly downhill which doesn’t help the buying proposition, either.

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Label makers are classy!

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A beautiful sight to watch over and over again.

Any plans to take this on a big trip?

This car will get used. Peter and I are hopefully taking the car to the Safari Party in October which should be an absolute blast. Maybe we can take it to Rampage after that!

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Geoff wrapping up our drive with the cover up.

Tell me about your bike. Why the Canyon?

For the last few years I have been riding bigger bikes (Chromag Doctahawk and Geometron G1). While I love being in the cockpit of a bigger bike - it was limiting my ability to get better (engaging shoulders / pushing through transitions / riding more nimbly) so I decided to get a smaller bike (specifically a mullet). I landed on the Canyon Spectral based on my read of many online reviews including NSMB’s and word of mouth. The bike has been awesome right out the box except for the brakes. I put some Hope V4s on it and they are insane!

Tell us about your mountain biking background.

I started mountain biking in high school. My first bike was a Kuwahara Savage! After high school my family moved to Kamloops where I really started to ride steeper terrain. I moved to Nanaimo in 1999 after university for my first job. When I moved there, I didn’t know anyone in town so I would go riding every day after work on Mt Benson and Dumont. I bought my first freeride bike there, a Santa Cruz Bullet with a Junior T (I still have the frame and it’s hanging on the wall in my garage!). Most weekends I would walk on to the ferry with my bike to hang out in Vancouver with my friends and would make the occasional climb up Fromme or trip to Whistler. Back then A-Line rode more like Half Nelson ;). We actually used to go up to Whistler in a friend's old Volkswagen Beetle which has always been inspiration that any car can shuttle bikes!

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Geoff is a super friendly dude with the right attitude for bikes, cars and life!

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Peter is the mad scientist behind the build at FlatSix Classics.

As my career progressed, I eventually moved to Montreal and my biking slowed down - I made a few trips a year to Bromont before moving to Toronto where my focus became all career. I gave up riding as I worked 90+ hours a week and didn’t have time to get out of the city to ride. While I wasn’t riding bikes I got into photography and got my pilot's license (to get my adrenaline fix).

In 2015, my career would bring me back to Vancouver. A few months after moving back I was cleaning up my garage and saw my old Santa Cruz frame in one of the moving boxes which made me think I should consider riding again. I went out and bought an aluminum Santa Cruz Bronson and headed up to Fromme. I parked on Coleman and was completely gassed before I even got to the gate! I rode down Bobsled and then tried Floppy Bunny where I scared the living $hit out of myself!

Since then I have been riding almost every week on the Shore or Squamish (on the weekend or at night).

Getting back into biking has been one of the best things I have done:

  • I have had amazing experiences from going to Retallack, riding the Whole Enchilada to doing the Into the Gnar Freeride program.
  • I have met so many cool people (some now lifetime friends) that I met for the first time at the top of a trail head or showing someone new to the city the local trails for the first time!
  • My friends (many from the Kamloops riding days) and I go on an annual bike trip every summer for a week and we have hit almost everyone major spot in BC.
  • I have combined my love of photography and biking and while I don’t have a big following I get a lot of positive feedback on my photos and actually won the TORCA annual photo contest.
  • And my riding has reached levels I would have never thought possible! With that said I am starting to dial back the risk as I get closer 50!
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There are custom speed holes everywhere on this car. It is exceptionally light.

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Sideways is the right way.

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1-3-5

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Hard to shoot while hooning but the custom-moulded Recaros were keeping me in place.

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Geoff's current bike may not be crazy custom but gets the job done.

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The Canyon Spectral is a beast on the North Shore.

This is a fun one, the full build list for Geoff's Porsche. No bolt untouched!

1980 Porsche 911 SC slick top 

Fully sand-blasted shell / sealed and primed 
Original Glasurit single stage paint.
Original Paint code - 463 - Casablanca Beige / New paint code - 908 - Grand Prix White 
VIN# 91A0140807 / Engine number - 6400836
Transmission vapour blasted 
All new OEM seals, gaskets and bearings 
New dog teeth and syncros 
New wavetrack LSD 
New slim profile starter 
3.0L engine bored to 3.3L
Vapour-blasted engine case / Bead-blasted, zinc plated and powder coated engine parts 
New lower valve covers modified for twin plug 
Machined engine case / competition engineering 
Mahle Motorsport piston & cylinders 
Machined heads with twin plug 
New valves and springs / custom profile camshafts
Polished and balanced crank
Original con rods remanufactured 
New rockers 
Engine fan sent out new
Center installed and balanced 
New pulleys 
New oil pump / restored oil tank
Carrera tensioners
ARP head studs, through bots & con rod bolts 
All new nuts, bolts and washers 
New hoses and clamps 
New fuel pump / new 100L custom duel filler fuel tank
New sending unit / restored fuel filler 
All new seals and mounting hardware 
Seals, gaskets and bearings OEM from Porsche
Timing chains / guides OEM from Porsche 
Rasant injection system 40mm
Motec M84 management system 
New engine harness 
Custom build sport exhaust system 
Heat exchangers 
Catalytic delete stainless steel 
RSR style muffler with inserts 
OEM Porsche Fuchs wheels 
16x7 - 16x8 Powdercoated and faces painted to colour match 
15x6 spare wheel with BFG space saver tire
BFG KO2 tires - 225/70/16 
Elephant racing safari build suspension 
Front vons / Bilstein RSR struts / coil overs
Rear Bilstein RSR coil overs 
RSR front and rear sway bars / links 
New heavy duty ball joints 
RSR custom front tower bar welded and drilled
Zinc-plated original spring plates 
Sport rubber control arm bushings & spring plate bushings 
Sport trailing arm bushings 
Reinforced front sway bar mounts / Reinforced rear spring plate mount 
Reinforced shock towers for coil overs 
Restored steering rack 
New drive shaft axles 
New Turbo tie rods 
Sand blasted / powdercoated control arms
Vapour-blasted front crossmember, trailing arms, and front hubs 
New OEM bearings and seals front and rear 
Zinc-plated hardware on all suspension 
Boxster brake upgrade / painted 463 code
Elephant racing brackets 
New 930 master cylinder / New brake lines, pads and Carrera sport rotors 
Restored brake booster 
Chase bays hydraulic ebrake / Zinc-plated ebrake hardware 
Restored original brake pedal assembly 
Restored original handbrake 
Custom built RSR gauges 
10,000 RPM tach / 300kph speedo
Custom IWC face clock 
Custom built shifter rally spec 
Leather wrapped modified original dash top and dash inserts
Leather wrapped knee pads, door tops, RSR door panels, custom headliner
Leather wrapped 911R roll bar / Leather wrapped 964 RS sport seats 
Painted colour-matched seat backs
Leather wrapped MOMO mod7 steering wheel with laser-engraved Porsche script 
Leather wrapped Porsche horn button
Leather wrapped RSR steering wheel hub and steering column 
RSR carpet kit custom and passenger foot board
RSR driver dead pedal foot rest 
Custom dash switches 
Custom Rally car roof scoop 
Custom rally spec (oh shit handle) passenger 
Original NOS Heuer stopwatch set 
Custom bracket for stopwatches 
New windshield and rear glass factory spec 
New seals, front and rear glass trim, rear quarter trim for glass OEM Porsche 
Restored / powder-coated door frames and door top trims 
All new door seals and glass seals 
Restored zinc plated window regulators
New door handles and seals / New glass seals 
911R vent plexiglass and air vents 
Original rear quarter glass / Original door glass 
Brand new OEM Porsche seatbelts 
Rear seatbelts harness and seat pads 
New OEM turn signal switch / Original pitch switch 
Original ignition / New ignition switch cover 
New custom 917 brass key 
Custom modified turbo flares 
Custom front hood emblem 
Custom mods original door handles 
Custom hood tie down pins 
Custom windshield and rear glass hold down tabs
Custom headlight hold down tabs
Custom battery kill switch on Cowell and on dash
New custom headlights/ flat lens 
New front signal and front marker lights OEM Porsche
New rear tail lights and rear reflector OEM Porsche
New custom built cibie Pallas for lights 
Custom drilled front and rear bumpers
Custom drilled from valance and hood 
Custom profile mesh inserts all around 
Modified ductail with race gurney 
Custom drilled door bottoms 
Custom modified front oil cooler mount
Removed added weight in the front trunk 
Custom built aluminum bumper shocks 
Custom built front rally skid plate 
All hoses, clamps, seals, nuts, bolts and washers are new or restored on the car. 

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As we say goodbye to another amazing Pistons and Pivots, I am looking forward to the next installment. It will most definitely be tough to best this one but I am willing to find the right crazy to show me their sweet ride.

Thanks for following along and I hope you enjoy the series.

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano

5'8"

162lbs

Playful, lively riding style

Photographer and Story Teller

Lenticular Aesthetician

www.blackbirdworks.ca

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Comments

Offrhodes42
+12 Cr4w taprider Pete Roggeman UMichael turboshart Tim Coleman finbarr Metacomet tmb1956 mtnfriend vunugu Shinook

This was a great way to start my day. That Porsche is a thing of beauty.

Reply

denomerdano
+2 UMichael Shinook

Glad you enjoyed it!

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+8 Deniz Merdano AJ Barlas taprider shenzhe solar_evolution Nukeitfromorbit finbarr Metacomet

Dear Geoff and Peter: congratulations on a job really well done. To have put so much work and effort into a car like that, and then to actually use it and drive it off-road is infinitely cooler than turning it into a showroom piece. Perfect fit for the series and for mtn bikers that appreciate performance couched in beauty.

Reply

gbarsky
+1 Shinook

Thanks Pete - it would impossible to keep it undercover in the garage - its too much fun to drive!!

Reply

Zowsch
+5 AJ Barlas Kyle Dixon Deniz Merdano ohio Shinook

This car Fuchs. Also glad he didn't have to resort to that suction cup rack. That thing would give me so much anxiety.

Reply

kos
+4 Cr4w Allen Lloyd Pete Roggeman Gabriel Barbosa

Stunning and fun and actually driven!

LIke Geoff, I had a morning paper route as a kid. Unlike Geoff, I don't have a car anywhere near this cool!

Reply

denomerdano
+2 Pete Roggeman mtnfriend

Geoff made some right choices along the way and so awesome that he is as humble as they get while calling me up asking me if I'd like to rally his sick car. Big thanks for that Geoff!

Reply

taprider
+3 Deniz Merdano finbarr Andy Eunson

and thank you Deniz for writing FSR and not using that stupid MountainBikeAction term "fire road" for all unpaved roads

Reply

Jotegir
+8 Deniz Merdano finbarr Mammal BarryW taprider Todd Hellinga Andy Eunson Offrhodes42

This is an unreasonable amount of distain for something so minor and I am here for it.

Reply

denomerdano
0

I will take this compliment! Thank you!

Reply

alhoff
0

Awe... I love MBA -

Reply

Jotegir
+2 Pete Roggeman shenzhe

As a bike nerd and vehicle enjoyer ("enjoyer" being several rungs down the enthusiast ladder than "nerd") this is one of the very few Pistons and Pivots where the Pivots part could be entirely excluded without reducing the quality of the article. It's not that the Canyon isn't neat, I just can't think of a bike off the top of my head that would quite hold a candle to that Porsche. Geoff* might as well not have brought a bike. And I don't have any particular affinity for porches!

*my dog's name is also Geoff, incidentally.

Reply

denomerdano
+2 Pete Roggeman Shinook

I hear you on that. Geoff did have a Geometron at one point and that would have been a better match indeed. The Canyon however is great, also German and has a great industrial design. And may it would have been overwhelming for me(surprise! It already was) to dive into a custom bike along side this awesome car.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
+2 DanL Offrhodes42

I second this. Got to the bike and felt deflated. More of this car!

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DanL
0

Haha, yeah, something about a bike ! And now I know who's Porsche it is I see parked with a bike on top.

Reply

gbarsky
+1 Jotegir

Awesome that your dog knows how to spell it right too :)

Reply

earleb
+2 Tim Coleman Deniz Merdano

Damn. That is one sweet Safari. Great shots and glad to see it gets used the way it should be.

Reply

flattire2
+2 Deniz Merdano Shinook

If you have the means buy a 911.   They go up, or flatline in value.  One of the smartest vehicular purchases you can make.  Provided you can wrench on it yourself.

Reply

xy9ine
+1 Mark

man. it didn't seem that long ago when vintage 911's were (relatively) inexpensive. and "undesirables" like 912's were cheap. missed that boat, alas. i rarely pine for cars these days, but (though i've never even driven one) classic 911's still hold a special place in my heart.

Reply

tashi
+1 Deniz Merdano

The number of times I didn’t buy a cheap 70’s targa because they were targas 🤦

Reply

xy9ine
+1 Deniz Merdano

holy shit. (drops a quick post prior to plunging into the photos).

Reply

mammal
+1 Deniz Merdano

DROOLING...

Reply

AJ_Barlas
+1 Deniz Merdano

Hell yeah, what a car! I love these things and was frothing over one, perhaps Geoff’s on the S2S highway last week.

Reply

tashi
+1 Deniz Merdano

Very cool car, and I particularly like how someone who knows what they’re talking about included my Baby Benz (C230 K) on the list of cool cars. 😊

That doesn’t happen much.

Reply

denomerdano
+1 tashi

Kompressor for life!!

Reply

tashi
0

It doesn't look exciting, and it's not as crisp as a similar vintage BMW 3 series, but it's RWD, stick, small, quick enough to be fun on public roads and waaaay more stable at speed than any car it's size has any right to be.

It's no 190 (possibly the Gold standard for an overbuilt compact sedan), and it's not anywhere near Mercedes' best, but the dedication to quality is still very much apparent.  Something special about M-B's, Porsches too these days.

Reply

Polymath
+1 Tim Coleman

That is one cool car.  Porsche is my favourite.  They know it too, and they have the newest version available on this fact the off-road model is rare and especially cool.  It is the 911 Dakar model.  Don't ask about the price......

Reply

StuartG
+1 Deniz Merdano

This is beyond cool. A true lesson in, ‘if you can, you should!’.

Chapeau Geoff. 

On a side note, what brand is that bike carrier on the roof bars? It looks nice and strong!

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gbarsky
0

Thanks!  Racks are Kuat Piston SRs which are amazing.  Crossbars are Thule WingBar for drip rails.

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denomerdano
0

Kuat Piston Pro X, Cam reviewed it last year

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StuartG
0

Thank you!

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Timmigrant
0

Thoroughly enjoyed that article as a lover of older cars, bikes, and mechanical time pieces. Beautifully written and shot, kudos to Deniz, Geoff and Peter.

Reply

NealWood
+1 Deniz Merdano

S2000 up next?

Reply

denomerdano
+1 Tim Coleman

Uhmmmmm yes!

Reply

Timmigrant
+2 NealWood Jotegir

I'd need to figure out a bike rack solution first. All bike rack requests for that car so far have been denied by the authorities out of a justified fear they'd never get to drive it.

Reply

syncro
0

Nice.

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Ddean
0

Keeper for life!

Great execution of a vision. Love it in classic Porsche motorsport white as well.

Reply

fed
0

Nice article, IMHO That Porsche is the nicest/most beautiful automobile I seem here. Enjoy it with good health, simply stunning !!

Reply

Shinook
0

I have to admit, this article finally pushed me over into buying a classic 911. 

I have been a Porsche fanatic my entire life, the first car I bought by myself in 2008 was a 2007 Cayman (which was also the car I learned to drive stick on, ha!) and I always regretted selling it. I put many many miles on that car and loved every moment. There's such a practical elegance to their cars, especially the 911 and Caymans I feel. Sadly life for us has been Porscheless for a variety of reasons, but that may be changing soon. I've been watching the air cooled market for a while now and seen it steadily (or massively in some cases) creep up, but never really dove into the nuances of the different years or took it as a serious option until this article that coincided with some other changes that facilitated it being an option.

I spent a bit of time hunting in the 78-83 range and finally found one that is held by an individual and appears to be in good condition. It's been driven, not a garage queen, so needs some work, but I'm hoping it pans out. Should know later this week. If not, I've got a few others in the queue. It's somewhat challenging in the US to locate good examples with known history, a dealership in CA seems to buy them with some regularity and resell them, which robs the experience of buying from passionate owners who know the history of the car and they seem to be inflating the price somewhat even of examples with major mechanical flaws.

Thanks for the nudge and inspiration.

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Ddean
0

A friend of mine put his pristine and probably best you’ll find 993 forsale yesterday. 

What are you waiting for? 🤣

And the older cars are brilliant - they’re more special than the new rocket ships and so you don’t have to chase latest and greatest, because the beat Pcars died with 997s

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