Day One with your New Air-Cooled Porsche

When you buy an air-cooled Porsche the purchase price is the biggest expense but not the only expense of a purchase. As soon as your Classic Porsche is in your possession, the day one job is and inspection and determination of just what you bought. I can assure you that you will need to spend some money taking care of deferred maintenance from the previous owner and personalizing the car to your tastes and needs.

Day 1 of Your New Air-Cooled Porsche

The inspection starts with the first turn of the key. What does the engine sound like and what do you see out of the tailpipe. You say that should be familiar with this from the pre-purchase inspection, but life is totally different after you have spent your money and it is sitting in your garage. My experience started with the drive from the trailer staging area to my house a quarter mile drive up a mountain.


My new 1968 Porsche 911HR (Hot Rod) sounded great, felt great and pulled strong up the mountain climb. However a green light was glowing on the dash just above the word oil. Since I am new to ownership of an early 911 I am not familiar with the lights and this alarmed me. The manual had long ago disappeared from the car so a quick call to fellow owner and I learned that I was being told the emergency brake was up. The brake wasn’t engaged so job one would be adjusting the sensor on the brake.

The list starts.

After a walk around and letting the car idle, it was time for a “real” drive on my roads, and at my pace and style. I live in the mountains so this means driving elevation changes with lots of twists and turns. This tests an air-cooled Porsche as Porsche engineers designed the car to be driven.


My biggest challenge was adjusting to the dog leg shift pattern of the 901 transmission so I was in the right gear for the turn and the grade. Let’s say that I had some learning to do as wrong gear selection was more common than right as I tended to be one gear too high for each shift. After years of driving a traditional H-pattern my brain was automatically putting the car into 3rd, thinking I was selecting second. This would just be a matter of training an old dog a new trick.

A day after taking possession of my new ‘68 I was scheduled to lead a 15-car Air Brigade drive. Coincidently, I had scheduled this drive to be short on driving and longer on socializing. It would give me a good opportunity for a short 50-mile drive with support and observers.

Linda was my co-pilot and gave me immediate thumbs-up feedback on the ride. I was concerned with the noise, ventilation and overall comfort for a passenger who was not enjoying the great driving experience.

The Scheel seats are a trick to enter and exit with the high bolsters but they have to be one of the most comfortable and supportive seats that I have experienced. To my surprise, Linda seconded the thought.


It was a cooler day with the end of summer, but we both remembered the increased air flow possible with the wing vent windows of a ‘60’s car that long ago disappeared in a modern car due to aerodynamics affecting car design.

At the first rest stop on the drive, Don and Lee in the cab behind me alerted me to a concern I hadn’t identified – a strong gas smell. It was so bad that on the next leg they did not want to be behind me after being asphyxiated by the ‘68’s exhausts fumes. 912 expert, Peter jumped into the diagnosis wanted to be sure the fumes were from the exhaust and not a leak and potential fire within the engine bay. Early diagnosis was no gas leak, but the Webers needed adjustment.

Number 2 on the list: adjusting the six Weber Carburetors.

Spring Plate Bushing Location

A new sound appeared as we cornered on the mountain curves with the full weight of two passengers in the little 2,000-pound Hot Rod. There was a thumping in the rear. The first thought was possible tire rub since the car sits low. An inspection showed not marking on the tire but a visual inspection of the Spring Plate Bushings indicated what appeared to be worn bushings.

Number 3 on the list: new bushings.

Fourth on the list was discovered after 68 sat in the garage overnight and an oil leak was discovered on the garage floor. I know, it isn’t an air-cooled Porsche without an oil drip, but still I wanted to know how serious this leak was. Is it a head gasket, or is it one of the major engine seals?

I don’t work on my own cars but have a great mechanic on speed dial who was called for the true inspection: what would a mechanic identify as needing to be done to my new purchase.

Stay tuned for the next installment.

Porsche 911HR on its Maiden Voyage

Tags: Porsche Inspection, Day One Inspection

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