Happy 50th to the Yellow Peril – Oct 2020

The Yellow Peril was born in Stuttgart in October 1970 (Porsche 1971 model year). Shortly after her birth, she was shipped across the English Channel and delivered to AFN’s Falconworks Porsche Adoption Agency in Iselworth. She was subsequently registered and handed to her new carer in January 1971.

Early Years

Sadly, I don’t know much about the early years of the Yellow Peril other than (according to Porsche factory records) the fact that she entered this (automotive) world as a right hand drive 2.2 Litre MFI “E” Coupe with black leatherette interior and electric sunroof with her bodywork painted in the colour of Olive Green (Paint code: 3939). The “Green Peril” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

My Custodianship

I assumed custodianship of the car in June 1997 by which time, the ravages of time and hard use meant that the old girl required major surgery to bring her back to rude health. Peter Andrews of Transend located the car for me north of the border in Glasgow and from there the car plus various repair panels were transported directly to a restorer (who shall remain nameless).

A pre-operative inspection revealed that amongst its various ailments, injuries, and oddities, the car had undergone a heart (engine) transplant somewhere along the line resulting in replacement of the original fuel injected 2.2 Litre E engine with a Zenith carburettor fuelled 2.2 Litre T engine of around the same age.

Wrong 2.2 Litre T engine that came with the car.

Major Surgery (Initial Restoration)

Bodywork restoration of the car seemed to progress well in terms of getting rid of and replacing rusty metal, fitting new panels and applying a new coat of paint.

Bodywork nearing completion.

Not being a big fan of Olive Green, I toyed with the idea of having the car painted silver or Tangerine before finally opting for the Porsche special order colour of Citron Yellow (Zitron Gelb). I think early 911’s always look best in safety fast colours like orange, lime green and of course yellow so that other road users can get out of the way when they see these luminous lumps of metal hurtling towards them..

The same company that had repaired and repainted the bodywork were tasked with putting the car back together by bolting on all of the mechanical components and getting it into drivable condition. This was when things started to go wrong as progress slowed to a snail’s pace, parts went missing and it reached the point where there was a serious risk of losing the car altogether as the restoration company drifted inexorably towards going bust.

With the help of a solicitor’s letter (thanks to old mate and solicitor David) and the power of persuasion, the still undriveable car was prised away from the garage and delivered to London.

The Jaz Rescue Centre for Precarious Porsches

In July 1999, the roughly assembled car was dumped on the Wembley forecourt of Jaz Porsche (Jaz are now based in St Albans) to be expertly inspected and assessed by Steve Winter and his team.

An immediate examination was needed to identify missing parts and to work out what aspects of the car were incomplete, incorrectly fitted or downright dangerous. This enabled negotiation on the final bill with the previous restorer as they had fallen far short of their remit to deliver a fully completed, running and MOT tested car AND they had “lost” parts along the way.

It was then down to Steve to immediately set-to in order to finish off and correct various jobs on the car and most importantly to make it safe. These jobs included replacing incorrectly and dangerously routed brake lines, fitting a second hand race car suspension set-up, finishing off all mechanical and electrical work and a plethora of other niggling issues.

2nd Heart Transplant

In the hands of Jaz, the pace of work was far more rapid and they soon reached the stage where the engine was ready to be fired up. This was obviously something I wanted to witness but unfortunately my excitement was short lived. Seeing flames belch out of the underside of the engine left Steve in no doubt that the “freshly rebuilt” engine was suffering from pulled head studs.

Whilst I contacted the engine builder in Scotland to have the problems put right, Peter managed to locate a period correct second hand 2.2 S engine complete with MFI and all of the bits required to fit directly into my car.

So – just to recap, the original 150bhp E engine had been replaced before I bought the car with a lower powered 125bhp T unit so swapping the inferior T engine for a more powerful 180bhp and period correct S engine seemed like the right thing to do. This would have been a period upgrade when the car was relatively new so – without further ado, the T engine was dispatched to Scotland to be rebuilt and then sold-on to offset the purchase price and fitting of the replacement S engine.

The S engine remained in the car without any major work for 15 years before a long overdue rebuild was carried out (see Major Heart Surgery).

From the point that the car was dropped on their forecourt in July 1999 to this day, Steve and Claire Winter and their Jaz team have continued to care for, maintain and improve the car.

During this time they rebuilt the 901 5-speed dogleg gearbox, replaced a clutch (or two), upgraded the suspension and repaired the steering, carried out a throttle body rebuild, replaced worn trim, fitted new tyres, repeatedly tweaked and tuned the car and finally – they completely rebuilt the engine when it eventually developed the tell tale symptoms of being completely and utterly clapped-out.

Major Heart Surgery

The game plan for the engine was to completely strip it down and then build it up to better than new spec using race pistons, specially profiled camshafts etc. replacing all worn parts along the way and rebuilding key ancillary components such as the MFI pump, throttle linkages and so on.

I vividly remember Steve’s comments just after he’d completed the full engine strip down – “I’ve never worked on such a dirty and thoroughly knackered engine”. The air cooling fins on the cylinder barrels were clogged with dirt, the crankshaft was ground by different amounts which meant that one cylinder had a different capacity to the rest, it had a mis-mash of parts from S, E and other engines, the engine shroud was cracked beyond repair. You name it and it was either wrong or completely and utterly knackered.

Engine rebuild in progress.

As a result, it was a far from straightforward rebuild and without Steve’s expertise and generosity, the engine could easily have been reduced to scrap value only.

Thankfully, Steve and his team persevered to deliver a gleaming fully rebuilt engine with all original finishes on the metalwork, nuts, bolts, castings, tinware etc. and a second hand SC shroud was modified to replace the old one.

Once completed, the engine was plugged into the dyno at BS Motorsport to be run-in and subjected to further tuning by Steve and Neil Bainbridge before being reinstated in the car.

Rebuilt engine being tweaked on BS Motorsport’s dyno by Neil Bainbridge (Left) and Steve Winter (Right).
Rebuilt engine back in the car.

Structural & Cosmetic Surgery At Sportwagen

Whilst in my ownership, the Yellow Peril has also required a certain amount of structural and cosmetic surgery which introduced me to Bruce Cooper and his brilliant team of bodywork specialists at Sportwagen.

My first encounter with Bruce was after the torsion tube split in an encounter with a lump of concrete whilst conveying me, the wife and daughter up North to spend Christmas with my Mother.

Setting aside the trauma of being told by wife and daughter to “please buy a modern car – that works” and having to organise a rescue by my kindly brother-in-law, I also had to get the Yellow Peril towed away, stored safely and securely over the festive period and then transported (as recommended by Steve) to Bruce who managed to cut out the split torsion tube and replace it with a good second hand item.

Replacement torsion tube.

My second encounter with Bruce was some years later when Steve pointed out that the car was getting a bit frilly around the lower edges due to corrosion. Steve pointed me again in the direction of Bruce and Sportwagen to have the underside of the car completely stripped back to bare metal, repaired and rust-proofed.

Initial red oxide coating for the repaired underside of the car .

Having preserved the underside of the car, Bruce and his team also addressed more widespread bodywork and paint issues to deliver an absolutely gleaming car with vastly improved panel fit to keep me on the road for many years to come.

Bodywork repairs at Sportwagen.

Further pilgrimages to Sportwagen followed to address accident damage, fit new carpets and sort out other bits and pieces. Each and every visit was a delight as I was not only able to closely inspect ongoing work on my car but I was also given conducted tours (by Bruce) of their Aladdin’s cave of ongoing 356 and 911 restorations.

Full Circle

Twenty three years ago – I was able to buy the Yellow Peril using money from a personal injury settlement after being knocked off my pushbike by a dangerous driver. My damaged shoulder prevented me from driving for a couple of years and the classic 911 was my “encouragement” to get back behind the wheel.

Fast forward to October 2020 and I’ve just recovered (after two years) from another shoulder injury (same shoulder) incurred in another pushbike accident!

A celebratory drive in the Yellow Peril on its 50th birthday would be nice but during these strange pandemic times, the old girl is suffering from some breathing difficulties. Consequently – she is back at Jaz undergoing intensive throttle body rebuild treatment.

A score and more years of ownership of the Yellow Peril have if nothing else taught me to be patient. I’ll get the car back again soon, we’ll get through the pandemic, car events will be organised and friendships forged through long term Porsche ownership can be resumed.

Everything is for the best in this the best of all possible worlds.

Early 911 and boxter posteriors at Donington.
Flinging the Yellow Peril around the track at Donington.
The Yellow Peril at rest.
The Yellow Peril on tour – France.

Here’s to the next 50 years for the Yellow Peril …….. which might admittedly involve a further change in custodianship ……. at some point.

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