Okay, I got myself a '71 Porsche 914 today. There are none for sale in the immediate vicinity of San Luis Obispo, so I found one for sale up near Monterey (2 hour drive), by a guy I'll call "Bob." I knew Bob was going to be a problem as soon as I called and asked if the car was still for sale.
"Is it a convertible?", I asked.
"What do you want a Porsche 914 for if you don't know what it is?", was his friendly reply. Apparently, all of them are convertibles, which I didn't realize. "I just couldn't tell from the picture if it has the 'Targa top'", I said, trying to redeem myself.
"It's pronounced 'Talga', he said through a heavy East Coast accent which made it unclear what the correct pronunciation was. He then claimed he couldn't hear me well on his cell phone and I told him I would call him Friday when I got close to town.
I decided that I would not tell him about my plan to convert it to an electric car, since I was sure by our intitial call that he would not approve. This guy really had a thing for Porsches and would probably think it a sacrilege to pull out the combustion engine. Porsche 914's, by the way, have similar engines to VW's and use a lot of the same parts, so they aren't really high performance sports cars. Nevertheless, they apparently are quite fast.
I called Bob when we were about 45 minutes away and he told me he wouldn't be available for an hour and a half. My wife and I then stopped for a pleasant cup of coffee at a local cafe and waited the extra 45 minutes.
The area where Bob owned a body shop and kept his car was a heavy industrial area, crowded with large, cumbersome trucks. We pulled in and Bob came out with a spool of wire. He was trying to get the car door open.
"Sorry, you won't be able to ride the car today, he said."
"What do you mean? I drove two hours to see this car."
"I thought you were on the way up here anyway."
I had forgotten that I acted as if I was just passing through in order to seem not so desperate when I called.
"Well, we had planned to stop in Carmel if the sale didn't work out, I said (partially truthfully)."
Bob showed me the ignition key, which had perilous crack in it. If we put it in the ignition or door lock, it would likely snap. Bob then proceeded to tell me why I shouldn't buy an old Porsche like this.
"The clutch is a pain. First gear is annoying. The seats have very little padding. It sits really low to the ground. They require a lot of maintenance..." etc. He did not seem to want me to buy his car. It was bizarre, really. He let me test drive another Porsche 914 (not for sale) to get an idea of how they ride as he continued to try and get the door open. My wife spoke with him as I went out for a ride that largely involved me sitting behind huge trucks, blocking me while letting other huge trucks pull onto the road. I got back and he had the door open and my wife seemed to have softened him up a bit. In the meantime, he sent one of the many Mexican employees to a locksmith to try and get a duplicate of the bad key. The way he was treating some of his employees led me to believe that they were probably all illegal aliens, since I can't imagine anyone else taking the abuse he seemed to dish out.
We then stood around waiting for his employee to return. When he did, we were informed that all of the locksmiths had closed early for Good Friday. Bob called around and found one on the outskirts of town and sent his employee back out. He returned finally with duplicate key and we tried to turn the ignition... No luck. The key didn't fit. I couldn't believe that I was going to have to drive all the way back with nothing.
Bob then suggested that he drill out the ignition. After some rumbling in back of his office, he came back with a drill and various tools. He drilled a hole and pulled out the ignition. We could then start it with a screwdriver. I finally took it out for a quick test ride, still dodging the trucks. He was right, first gear was a nuisance. The car was in very good shape otherwise - no rust, fresh paint, good tires and decent brakes, so I told him I would take it.
"I'm firm on the $3,700," he said.
"Fine. As long as you include a screwdriver." He then agreed to drop it to $3,600 due to the ignition being removed.
"But I can't let you have that screwdriver."
"That's my 'new employee' screwdriver. I'm kind of hard to work for, he said, so I go through a lot of employees and they all start with this screwdriver." At least he knew his limitations, I thought.
Finally, we made the deal... I drove off with my wife following behind and it was a nice ride, going 80 mph - smooth. It'll be a shame to pull out the engine, but the deed will have to be done.
I'll wash it this weekend and post some pics.