Ed Cave's 1988 Porsche 911 Carrera
At dawn in the horse country of Cherokee County north of Atlanta, as we position Ed Cave's spectacular 1988 Carrera, a voice from behind a fence asks, "Who are you shooting for?" Before I can answer, he starts asking more questions. Informed questions. Turns out he's got a 930 in the barn.
Cave is used to such attention, be it at the supermarket or the local Porsche club show.
Cave, who absolutely considers himself a Porsche guy, likes to run vintage rallies in his Porsches. He owns three others: a perfect, concours-winning 1973 911S, an "Outlaw" 356 and a 1998 Carrera 2S. Long enamored of the Martini-sponsored, 1978 911 SCRS driven by Björn Waldegaard in the East African Safari Rally, he knew he didn't want a clone of that car.
A lot of people think they want a racecar on the street. There are still a few states left that'll give you a title and plates for one, but beyond an afternoon at the track, the fun starts to fade. From the moment you head home, try to commute or, God forbid, pick up a date, the heat, the cramped quarters, the damned roll cage and the noise would all drive you nuts. It's truly an idea best left a motorhead's fantasy.
But who's to say that you can't have the effect of driving a racecar on the street? Enter the tribute car.
Cave caught wind of a Martini-liveried tribute car on the West Coast and contacted the builder, AutoKennel of Costa Mesa, Calif. With that first one sold, Cave easily talked AutoKennel owner Paul Kramer into building another one. With his background as a successful interior designer, Cave wanted to make a few changes to suit his taste. Most of all he wanted everyday reliability, but something still robust enough to tackle the back roads.
Kramer located a white 1988 Carrera with just one previous owner in its 138,000 miles and immediately set about disassembling the car to its elemental bits, removing the drivetrain and suspension and gutting the interior with the exception of the dash and headliner.
The motor was solid, but a top-end rebuild with new seals and gaskets, along with a rebuild on the G50 gearbox, were in order. Intent on maintaining reliability, Kramer pretty much left the 3.2-liter motor stock beyond some exhaust mods and leaving a performance chip in place. "The goal is everyday usage," he insists. Fortunately, with an estimated extra 20 hp on top of the stock 214 and an overall weight savings of around 100 pounds, this car accelerates with plenty of verve.
In place of the stock seats, AutoKennel fitted custom Scheel units with Recaro sliders and perforated leather with Martini-colored welting and patches. The removal of the rear seats and the installation of lightweight, early-911-style carpets, RS-style door panels and a reproduction 911 ST roll bar add tons to the race feel. In place of the original center console and factory shifter sits a bootless WEVO short-throw shifter with its upper mechanism exposed. A MOMO Prototipo wheel completes the driver controls.
In place of the stereo, the dash displays a pair of period-correct Heuer rally stopwatches as well as a super accurate, modern Monit TC-2 rally computer, making Cave's car "equipped" in TSD parlance. But he didn't completely banish tunes from the 911. Behind the Monit unit, Kramer hid a modern stereo with an iPod connector in the ashtray. Tune management comes via remote control, with an IR pickup barely visible next to the rally computer. It's a pretty slick setup that you'd never notice without prior knowledge.
In the handling and grip department, AutoKennel replaced the stock suspension with a setup from Elephant Racing that included Bilstein HD shocks and urethane bushings throughout. The ride height was raised a scoche to give it the rally look. White powdercoated 7x16 and 8x16 Fuchs wheels with BFGoodrich tires complete the road-holding mods.
But it's the exterior that really speaks the rally language. Custom Martini-scheme vinyl graphics work well with the custom-painted bumpers, blue in the rear and fluorescent orange in the front. Functional aluminum skid plates cover 60 percent of the undercarriage. The tow hooks in both bumpers are also structurally sound. Early 911-style rubber straps keep the hood and engine cover in place. A row of Cibie rally lights ensures that this 911 can illuminate the darkest path it takes. Yellow Euro headlamp lenses along with early H4 lights complete the rally look at the front end. At the rear, the Getty Racing ducktail engine cover was custom-fitted to cleverly hide the A/C condenser. Cave takes his wife Jeannie along as navigator on vintage rallies; A/C is essential in that scenario.
The overwhelming signature of this car is the superb attention to detail, whether it's the hood straps, the stitching on the seats, the lighting-the list goes on and on. Any examination beyond a cursory glance reveals the astounding detail accomplished by Paul Kramer and his crew at AutoKennel.
Driving the Carrera-based creation reminds me of why these cars are so loved. Even with the light front end, its unassisted steering requires direct and forceful input. The shorter throws (30 percent) from the WEVO shifter and the sharpened responses from the Elephant Racing suspension are brilliant. The 3.2-liter flat six barks a little louder than a stock version and provides enough oomph to turn any country road into a spirited drive. Refreshingly, my short stint behind the wheel marks an honest departure from the multi-CPU, sound-isolated experience of driving a modern car fast. The sounds, the tactile sensations, even the smells of driving what a vintage, air-cooled 911 make for a singular feeling unlike that of any other.
We can only imagine how much Cave enjoys tackling the mountain roads on such rallies as the Carolina Trophy or the Mountain Mille.
1988 Porsche 911 carrera
Longitudinal rear engine, rear-wheel drive
3.2-liter flat six. Performance chip, exhaust
Five-speed manual, WEVO short-shifter
Bilstein HD dampers, urethane bushings
Wheels And Tires
Fuchs alloy, 7x16 (f), 8x16 (r)
BFGoodrich g-Force Sport
Custom blue-and-orange paint, aluminum skid plates, Cibie rally lights, Getty Racing ducktail decklid
Scheel seats with custom upholstery, RS-style door panels, 911 ST rollbar, MOMO Prototipo steering wheel, Heuer rally stopwatches, Monit TC-2 rally computer, stealth-mounted stereo with iPod interface
Peak Power: 234 hp (est.)