Driving A ’68 SWB 911 To Chantilly Is A Beautiful Way To Spend A Day
Photography by Ted Gushue
The Porsche virus caught me in 2000 when I was driving with a friend in his 912 from Paris to Deauville. In 2003 I was living in Dallas Texas, and after being on the hunt online for more than a year I found this one very well documented and with the flaws honestly described by the seller. At the time I was deciding between an S or an early SWB 911. But 911S’ were already a bit above my budget as I wanted a very good condition car that had the beauty of the early 911s that still shared so much DNA with the 356 (wooden wheel, carburetors, chrome-plated wheels).
These touches spoke to me as not only objects of beauty, but as flourishes that would make them a valuable investment. This one was in very good condition and came with a big file of documents which tracked its whole life from the exit of the factory. It was first delivered on 12.08.1968 to Bethesa/Maryland and is with VIN 11835735 the eighth-to-last produced US SWB. Probably of all SWB, because the last ones were delivered to the US.
The car came with a lot of goodies such as: full original tool set including the tire pressure tester, owner original record book of the car, original invoice from Porsche, the “bra”, quite ugly but I have it , all wheels are dated and correct and it even came with the wooden steering wheel that was already a complicated option to get in 1968 (seen as dangerous). It came also with a set of carpets in cashmere that the previous owner made at the color of the car (Sand Beige) with 911 written on it. So the original carpet set and rear seats are in like-new condition.
The 911 had only three owners of which the first one, Robert Masters, bought it on 1st of Feb 1969 at Manhattan Auto with 2421 miles on the odometer. He kept it for 26 years and hat little problems with it as the invoiced proof. 1994 he was 80 years old and sold it to a Liz Darrig who made a large inspection, but drove very little and kept it only for 1 year. Then sold it to Frank E. Kruesi. He invested a lot of money in this 911, it had some rust , the clutch and brakes repaired and put it at a very good condition level. Then he sold it to me via a Chicago dealer who detailed it very well on eBay. So I bought it for 13,500 USD in November 2013, transferring the money without having seen the car.
I then drove it back from Chicago to Dallas in one day and night (1000 miles) so the car did more miles in one day that it had done in years. I used the car from November 2003 till December 2005 in Dallas as my personal car and did 20,000 miles with it. It was like a second life. I did not have a problem with the car for all those miles. These cars are amazingly reliable. It is in excellent shape mechanically.
I had the rusted front of the chassis remade in Texas before shipping it to France. When I arrived in Europe I hesitated to put it in European style, but after I experienced some difficulties with customs I decided to keep it as original. So it still has its US turn signal lenses, which I like better for the rear of the car. On the front it has some European head light lenses that previous owners had installed. All repairs and workshop visits I have listed in a table. In over 500 positions you can see exactly what was done by whom, when and where.
Above photos courtesy of Maxime Delestre
Over the years a total of about $ 80,000 went into the car factoring in inflation and the fluctuating exchange rates for over 49 years. The car had an ignition defect from its youth. A bad ignition connection that made it sputter when you were going over 5000 RPM. That’s why the engine had never been overused. But in 2015 I decided to put an electronic ignition (not noticeable and that you can reverse easily) that changed the behavior of the car.
Only thing is that the engine has never been opened so it is now around 88,000 miles. I will eventually do a restoration of engine if I want to participate in historical rallies, etc. The only thing I did on the engine is that I changed the chain tensioners in 2003 right after I bought it because they were still original and are quite fragile on those cars. If they break they kill the engine. I also took advantage to change the shock absorbers that were quite old and then I put it on a top quality paint shop that has reworked all the details that I did not like. It mainly had a spot of rust on the front left fender that was beginning to show with little bubbles.
But of course, when you begin to work on rust on those cars, you just discover that you should do more and more every time you dismantle something. So eventually the car underwent a quite extensive cosmetic restoration during 2015 summer because I wanted to do it right. Front, hood, front bumper and rear bumpers were repainted. Doors and Roof are still original color. Now the car is just in fantastic shape, ready to cross over other 40 years without any troubles. The car looks almost new.
I had this car the same week my wife got pregnant from my first child in November 2003, I have now 2 kids, Basile (13) and Bianca (10) and we spend often some weekends at events like the 24 Hours of Le Mans like we did last week. We’ve been to every Classic Le Mans event from 2006 till today, and I am driving it every month to the country side in Normandy were I have my parents house. It is sharing the garage with a Alfa Roméo Coupe Bertone Giulia GTV 2000 from 1972 (pictured below) and I try to use both of them regularly changing every 2 weeks to make them both happy.