Story and photos by Zander Pickering: @boys_own_garage
People often argue about whether it’s the destination or the journey that defines the experience – in this story, I think you will all agree that they both do. Like any good journey, the road to the Tangerine Dream was long and full of surprises, road blocks, hazards, switch backs and long open stretches.
I’ve been a car nut my entire life, mostly with a penchant for racing cars, European cars and European racing cars. I’d had a passion for Porsche for a long time, but they had always been out of my reach. It wasn’t until after a stint in the Middle East in 2010 that I could start to consider being able to own one. My Unicorn was and still is a 993RSCS in Riviera Blue, however my budget was more mid-year, possibly converted SC territory. I came close to buying a resale red Australian delivered mid year car that had a replacement 3.0, however my then girlfriend gave me a stern ultimatum – the Porsche lost. Road block.
A year later whilst thumbing through a Just Cars magazine on Christmas leave, I stumbled across an ad for a US Importer – 1966 Porsche 911, Irish Green, California car with only minimal rust in front spare wheel well, non-runner USD$10,000. Immediately I point this out to the same girlfriend and her Father who then proceed to lecture me on everything but my desire to be happy and make a potentially smart investment decision. Road block.
You know those moments in a journey where everything seems to be going smoothly and then all hell breaks loose? Well this was one of those moments. During a morning break from work in 2012, I thought it would be funny to find myself an appropriate Porsche on CarSales as a gift suggestion for my upcoming 31st Birthday. Upon finding one, I sent the link to the same girlfriend as well as my best mate – one replied with “Mmmm…why not, do it”, the other with “That’s nice, but it isn’t happening”. Road block. But wait, here comes a twist. The day after my Birthday, I had to put down my four year old Great Dane (a terrible experience that never gets better) and two days later I’m on the phone to my best friend asking if he wants to look at that Porsche with me – you might have guessed that the Road block actually turned out to be a sharp hairpin that opened into a long flowing straight…. now 31, newly single (and homeless), there was no one stopping me from following my dream of owning a Porsche.
The car I’d found the previous week on CarSales was conveniently located in the Adelaide Foothills, just 15 minutes from my parent’s house. It was advertised as a converted 1966 SWB, with a rebuilt 2.7, new interior and period Recaro seats, numerous new parts and was missing only a windscreen and gearbox. The shell was straight and rust free prepped in primer ready for paint. At under $25,000 it was not only the cheapest early car on the market, it was also within my budget and ready for me to put my “signature touches” on. Just as I was getting excited and ready to do a deal, the seller remembered to point out that “by the way, it was originally a 912 chassis”. Rather than take my time to consider the other available cars and do further research, the desire and want to get past the frustrations of the previous few years proved too strong, so I did the deal – note I’m still homeless at this time…
A week later we arrange a tilt tray to take the car to my friends house where we proceed to strip the chrome work and lights from the car, ready to send it off to the paint shop. We also assembled and stored all the parts in his garage, noting that although still homeless I have now at least signed a lease, but still had to wait a week to move in.
That long flowing straight I mentioned – I’m gathering more and more speed on it, as in just over a month later the car is painted in P2002 Tangerine (P018 Blutorange) a special order colour for 1966. There were a few sleepless nights whilst I mulled over the options of painting it in its original shade of Polo Red, the now iconic Slate Grey or the vibrant Tangerine. Given the car had long lost its original factory configuration, it was easy to discount Polo Red from the options. Once painted I decided to send the car straight to one of Adelaide’s preferred Independent Porsche workshops so that they could provide a 915 gearbox and fit the driveline to the car. By now I was fast running out of my budget for the year and was working my way through the boxes and boxes of parts that had come with the car. By the time the workshop was ready to close up for Christmas, the car was on its way back to my garage, my budget was already in the negative and I was scratching my head trying to figure out how to put the car back together, noting I was not the one who had taken it apart… The festive season gave me a chance to bolt on some bits and pieces with the help of my new girlfriend (my now wife) and to start to work out a list of what I needed and how I could achieve it. Additionally and importantly, I was starting to make more local and overseas contacts and was starting to understand more about the car, the marque and the “Kuhlture”. Unfortunately though, that long flowing straight was about to come to a Give Way sign.
Pushing on down the road, it is now mid 2018. The past six years have seen me move house twice, get married, add a dog and a son to the family and spend countless days and nights away from both my home and the car due to work. Facebook becomes a frequent reminder tool by alerting me to a picture of the car that is a memory from a year or two ago – the chase for the right missing or worn out part never ends and the quest to find a solid block of time or a few thousand dollars or both is continuous. Remember me suggesting that sometimes the journey is equal to the destination? At times I strongly doubted that, however faith was restored when a new Porsche friend would give me a spare part that I needed or some advice or just a few precious hours of help. Additionally whilst based in the US for work, I was fortunate enough to meet an awesome bunch of Aircooled people who I shared cars, drives and experiences with such as a late night hang out with Magnus Walker, a personal tour of the Brumos collection, a VIP weekend at Amelia Island and an awesome trip to the Sebring 12 Hour where we replaced the rear main seal on a split window VW Bus en-route at a truck stop… Scenic look out ahead!
With the car now wired and able to run, I enlisted the help of a good friend who fortunately for me had a shed with a vast array of tools and a hoist that more importantly DID NOT HAVE ANY CARS IN IT! Every weekend for a number of months (including a period where I had undiagnosed glandular fever) I worked from front to back on the car, writing a list of jobs to do and the parts needed to complete them. After almost six months of working through the list, it was time to bring the car back home, fit the interior and send it off to my preferred workshop for a once over before its inspection for registration. Destination in sight.
Come early 2019, the car goes off for what I am hoping is its final ride on a tilt tray to be checked over before the registration process begins. As I have learnt to expect by now, there’s a few little issues that require some adjustment before the workshop is 100% happy with the car – the downside to that is that of the final two parts needed, one was nil stock and took almost eight weeks to arrive. Road block.
After waiting very patiently, the day had finally come to get the car inspected for Registration but guess what? It was raining. Not any rain, that big fat sideways rain… and then the rear brakes locked on five minutes from the appointment location. A quick call to the workshop saw the shop van arrive, a quick roadside brake bleed and we were on our way and made our appointment on time – just!.
Now before I bought the car, when I had the car engineered and before booking it in for its registration inspection, I made sure to liaise with the correct Government Department to make sure the car was legal and that all the t’s were crossed and i’s dotted. I can tell you first hand that any inspection for registration is nerve racking at the best of times, so it was even more so with this car, especially after seven years and what for me was a substantial financial investment. So when the inspectors asked me to come to the office, something I have never had happen before, my heart sank. They then informed me they were impounding the car. Impounding… The… Car…!!! A car that had not even been registered or on the road in Australia since it’s importation in 1994, let alone outside in the elements for more than an hour or two at a time. Road Block.
It took an agonizing two weeks before I finally got the news I was waiting and expecting to hear – there was no issue with the vehicle or its identity, the car was exactly what is was supposed to be – a LHD to RHD converted 912 with the original factory stamped chassis number in the factory location. Now that this Road Block and Detour was complete, it was time to try again. This time inspection for registration passed, however after a very, very full and complete roadworthy, it was again time for a U-turn to complete some rectifications. In the midst of this, I turned another year older and found out that I’m due to be a Father again. The journey continues.
Finally after years of blood, sweat, tears, money and priceless help, support and advice, the car was passed as roadworthy on 19th of August 2019 and I finally drove “Penelope – the Tangerine Dream” home on the 23rd of August, journey complete, destination reached.
So was it the destination or the journey that defined this experience? I still believe it was both. The people I met, the places I went and the friendships that were created and strengthened through the journey are priceless memories. The destination (the car) is amazing – it is great to look at, fun to drive, absolutely intoxicating to listen to, and again, it has introduced me to more and more like minded people. Seeing the smile (and relief) on my wife’s face when it finally came home, seeing the smile and excitement on my little boy’s face when I fire it up or take him for a cheeky spin around the block reminds me that it was all worth it.
Now it’s time to start many new journeys and make up for not driving the car over the last seven years.
Penelope – the Tangerine Dream
1966 Porsche 912 by Karmann
Manufactured 2nd February 1966
Polo Red, Brown Leatherette, US Spec vehicle imported through VW Pacific Inc. in Culver City, California. First owner lived in Lake Arrowhead, California.
Imported into Australia by Sports Car Connection, St. Marys SA in 1994, purchased by myself in July 2012.
Now Tangerine and Black Leatherette, converted to RHD and six cylinder configuration.
1975 911S 2.7 CIS Engine with 11 Blade Fan, Turbo Valve Covers, Early Model Heat Exchangers, Dansk Twin Outlet Pea Shooter Exhaust, Lightweight Flywheel and Upgraded Clutch, 915 (78-83SC) Gearbox, 915 Tower with Factory Short Shift kit, Semi Solid Mounts.
Painted 689 (P2002) 018 Tangerine/Blutorange Special Order 1966 Porsche paint code, Bosch H4 Headlights, Stuttgart Classica Rear Jack Point, Porsche 15×6 Steel Wheels.
Front Brakes Alloy S Calipers with Porterfield R4-S Pads and Braided Lines, Rear Brakes PMB Wide L Calipers with Vented Rotors and Porterfield R4-S Pads and Braided Lines, 19mm Dual Circuit Master Cylinder.
GTS Classic Nurburgring and Sebring Seats in Black Leatherette with Orange Plaid Centres, Perlon RS Carpet Kit, 365mm Momo 911R Style steering wheel, ST style dash including Radio and Ashtray delete, No Glove box door, Swiss Stopwatches, North Hollywood Speedo Green Face electronic SC speedo conversion and 911S Oil Combination gauge, Wooden 917 Style Dave Mason Printed Shift knob, ST-Classic Alloy R-Style pedal boards, foot rest and shifter cover, D-Zug 917 Style Adjustable Throttle Pedal.
Koni Adjustable Shock absorbers, Torsion Bars 19mm Front and 24mm Rear, Turbo Tie Rods, Elephant Racing extended rack ends and Steering Rack spacers, Rennline Front Strut Tower Brace.