In 1977 the official weekend of the Queen’s Jubilee, Bob Grafham and I left an emotional Bill Bates waving us away from Harper’s Yard at South Street in Isleworth, to drive overland to Bahrain in my Royal blue Porsche 911E 2.2 litre Targa.
We had just taken some photographs and Bob had a bought his super 8mm movie camera, so we had staged a few shots with Bill behind the camera lenses prior to formally leaving. Bob and I were sporting new straw trilby style hats and the car was looking pristine with a number of Union Jacks strategically stuck on the bumpers and doors.
I had spotted this Porsche 911 Targa some month’s earlier sitting in Harper’s Yard with a badly damaged roof on it, and consequently full of water up to the doorsills and looking in a very sorry state. I called Lawrence Hardwicke at AFN to see what the position was in regard to this car. Lawrence told me that the owner had disappeared and left the car at AFN owing a substantial sum of money in unpaid bills. After looking into the legal situation and including some negotiation, I purchased the car from AFN for £1,200/- as it was. I also got permission to use the facilities at Harper’s and once again gained Harry Olrog’s support and help.
The car was in a terrible state internally so I took the interior out and stripped all the carpets and put these in the bin. I looked into getting a replacement Targa folding roof, but it would seem I would need to pay around the same amount as the car cost me to purchase one new from AFN, so that was a non-starter. I called my brother Ginger in Germany and he came back with the contact details of a Porsche scrap yard located in Karlsruhe, Germany who he thought should have what I needed, so I called them up. They had a second-hand Targa roof and a complete set of new black carpets for a really good price and I told the owner, Manfred Friesinger, I would call in to purchase these items in a week or so and to keep them put by for me.
In the meantime Harry Olrog sorted me out with a spare wheel and jack as all the movable items were missing from the car when I purchased it.
The next major job was to see if the engine ran. Lawrence had said it had been rebuilt sometime earlier and should be fine after a service. So I took the spark plugs out and turned the engine over with a 19mm spanner on the crankshaft pulley. To my surprise and relief it turned over easily. Next I fitted a new battery and used the starter motor to turn it over at speed to see if the oil pressure rose, which it did. Once this was achieved I then re-fitted the spark plugs and fired the engine up properly. It started and the oil pressure came right up to normal although it was running a big rough. However it soon smoothed out after a minute or two. I ran the car to warm it up slowly and check the oil level, which was also fine.
The next job was to strip out all the brake pads and clean the disks up which were all rusty. After a good session on this I put the old pads back in with some copper slip grease on the moving edges, which I had first cleaned up on an emery board.
We scrubbed the car interior and it came up very well considering the state it was in just a few days earlier with green moss and deposits all over it! I purchased a couple of rubber mats from the front foot wells and refitted the seats back. It looked pretty basic but reasonable clean and tidy now.
The paintwork was in bad condition and had gone matt but after a good T-cut and polish at least it looked half reasonable.
I then needed to get the Porsche 911E insured and passed through an MOT test; the latter was carried out next door at a small Mercedes garage opposite Isleworth Clock Tower. I made my appointment and had taken the Porsche 911E for a long run prior to it’s MOT test to bed the brakes in again and had of course checked or replaced the usual lights, horn, tyres, as required. It passed the MOT and I now had to road tax it. Having looked at my finances I decided to pass on the latter as Bob and I were going to drive and permanently export this car to Bahrain in the Middle East. As we only had the run down to Dover to make, I took a chance running without a road tax license.
I had decided to have a quick respray done on the car to brighten it up. It was originally dark blue so I got a local chap I knew in Richmond to do a low cost job over the preceding weekend before we left.
We had patched up the damaged Targa roof for temporary use until we collected the replacement one in Germany the following day or so.