Long before air-cooled cars were hyped up on the internet, they were cut up, beat up, and spooled up by owners throughout the ’80s. Cabriolets, fiberglass material, and widebodies were all the rage back then, and custom rides were life. But with values of these cars skyrocketing in the last five years, today’s car builders are refocusing their efforts toward the clean or OE restoration side of things, so finding unique builds has become a rarity in 2020. However, in some areas of the country, culture and technology are being pushed more than others.
During Das Renn Treffen (DRT) of 2019, I walked around the Beat Culture gathering to capture some of the cars that showed up. One car that caught my attention was this khaki-colored 911 G-body parked in the corner. It stood out to me for many reasons, but more specifically because it didn’t have the typical 911 mods. One point of distinction was the color, which helped the car to stand out from the crowd as it is not a factory-applied hue. Later that evening, I found Alex Aguiar, the car’s builder, and owner. We chatted about his car, we split ways, and unfortunately, we didn’t get to talk much during my 2019 trip after that night.
Fast forward to DRT 2020, I spot Alex at the Beat Culture gathering yet again. We ended up talking some more about his build, and what I missed since the last time I was in Miami. As you can imagine, Alex’s car gets a lot of attention, and a majority of those people are absolutely in love with his car. When I asked him about what color it is, he stated that it is Porsche Fashion Grey, but no matter how I looked at it, I knew it wasn’t Fashion Grey. He later told me that the paint shop ended up using a different kind of Fashion Grey from BMW, but regardless of what it is, it’s fantastic!
For those enthusiasts without an air-cooled Porsche, the fear of missing out has been creeping in hard, and the idea that they may never own one is hard to fathom. In July of 2017, Alex found a 1985 911 with a 915 transmission and prevented that feeling from being permanent. A majority of owners prefer the G50 transmission, but he knew he wanted a cable clutch over the hydraulic variant, and he was happy to find one mated to a 3.2-liter flat-six, too. He found the car listed for sale in non-running condition in Los Angeles. Alex would later find out that was due to a cut starter solenoid wire from an old hacked-together alarm install. Against his better judgment, he bought the car sight unseen, and that is where his adventure began.
As the car arrived in the middle of the summer, Alex quickly got used to not having a running air conditioning system in the car and figured that he would always be sweating while driving the vehicle. Owning an older car means old car problems, and that is pretty much what he encountered. Alex went to fix a small dent on his front fender, and in the event of removing it, he noticed some old flaky paint, which flaked off. As you can imagine, the fear of rust was too intense, and him stripping the whole car to the metal for a complete refresh soon followed. The saying, “While you’re in there,” settled in quickly, and Alex got to work.
Alex knew he wasn’t going back to OE-spec and purchased a Getty Design bumper to change things up a bit. Many would have been happy with this change, but Alex, the tinkerer he is, decided to modify the front end to accept projector headlights and foglights. He also installed a set of aero mirrors from a late model 964 to complement the Getty bumper. To finish off the front end, he equipped it with a pair of bright yellow lenses to give the 911 the final look that it presents today, and I love the final product!
Due to the car’s age, he replaced all of the old wiring, HVAC system, and even the interior’s bits and pieces. After he replaced the wires and added a new fuse box, he installed new insulation, new upholstery, and replaced all of the seals on the car. He mentioned that the rear window was one of the more difficult windows to install because of how the seal flips to the outside of the frame midway. The original gauges were restored, and custom-fabricated dash inserts were married together including an AEM Performance Electronics air/fuel ratio gauge. Alex also fitted a Vintage Air A/C unit to survive that brutal Miami heat.
So that only left the engine and suspension. After the body was restored, Alex put the engine back in, but it would not start due to sensor issues with the factory ECU. With ’80s technology throughout, diagnosing the problem was not going to be easy. Since Porsche parts are not cheap, he decided to sell all of the Porsche Motronic components in favor of a standalone ECU to manage the fuel and ignition. Alex made a new engine harness and was able to get it running in no time; he didn’t feel the need to open up the motor, so it remains stock but cleaner with some newer seals. In hindsight, though, he wishes that he had opened it up and added performance upgrades. For the time being, he is happy as the 911 runs smoothly and reliable after a few street tunes.
For suspension, Alex opted for Elephant Racing components with KONI adjustable shocks at all four corners. The 911 was mated with a set of fifteen52 Formula TR wheels, measuring 16×8-inch and 16×9-inch in size, matte black in color, and wrapped in Pirelli Trofeo R 225/50-16 and 245/45-16 respectively.
I actually had to shoot Alex’s car twice as we ran out of light the first night. Funny enough, we started shooting right after DRT ended and into the night. It was getting more difficult to shoot during the dark conditions, so we met up the day after to knock out some rollers on the freeway. Miami has a lot of toll roads and getting hit with a significant toll bill when I got home was tough, but when I started editing, it was all worth it. The car looks terrific moving and sitting—as you can tell from the photos.
This 911’s overall look is subtle, yet somehow it screams out at you in a parking lot full of visually loud vehicles. The transportation we own and drive is basically an extension of ourselves, and it’s funny how it seems that I see the owner’s face when thinking about a particular car. Alex is a prime example of a DIY guy putting his hard work and passion into play. The outcome is nothing short of badass, and I can’t wait to see what he does with his new project in the line-up. I am sure by DRT 2021, it will be breaking necks—it’s hard to find highly customized cars such as this around, but even more impressive was that it was done entirely by the owner himself. We need to get back to being a culture of self-doers and customizing these cars. You have to remember that before everyone tried saving them, the ’80s were filled with guys modding the life out of them. These cars were meant for driving and racing. If you aren’t doing either of those things, maybe it’s time for a new hobby.
Alex Aguiar's Tinkered 1985 Porsche 911
|Exterior:||Spies Hecker Fashion Grey 61H paint, customized Getty Design RUF-style front bumper, Getty Design IROC-style rear bumper, 964 Aero mirrors, custom decklid grill, sidemarker delete|
|Interior:||Recaro Specialist M seats, MOMO Prototip steering wheel, Rennline aluminum pedal set, custom aluminum dashboard insert, Dynamat/Lizard Skin insulation, Vintage Air air conditioning system, Ron Francis fuse panel, Clarion M508 head unit, JBL front speakers, Appbiz Plus charcoal carpet, upholstery by Rivero Auto Interiors|
|Engine:||3.2-liter air-cooled flat-six, Megasquirt Microsquirt fuel injection, Bursch headers, M&K muffler|
|Drivetrain:||Porsche 915 transmission, Sachs clutch, WEVO race shifter|
|Suspension:||KONI Sport adjustable shocks, Elephant Racing 27mm rear torsion bar and 21mm front torsion bar, raised spindles for geometry correction, Porsche Turbo tie rods|
|Wheels & Tires:||fifteen52 Formula TR wheels (16×8-inch front, 16×9-inch rear), Pirelli Trofeo R tires (225/50-16 front, 245/45-16 rear)|