Porsche 912E Combines Two Passions
Owner and photographer: Stephen Fitzgerald
Year, Make, and Model: 1976 Porsche 912E
Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
I became interested in cars when I was very very young. Two of my brothers were also very avid car fans and we each picked a brand as our favorite. My oldest brother was a fan of Ferrari, my second oldest brother was a Lamborghini man. I chose Porsche. We often engaged in heated arguments over which brand and car was better. F40, Countach, 959? I still say that the 959 is king.
As I grew up I very much wanted to own a Porsche, but humble means kept that dream at bay until I discovered the somewhat unloved 912E. Being a 911S with 4 cylinders, I was happy to give up those extra two cylinders in exchange for having my dream car. Now, thousands of miles later, I’m utterly thrilled with the car and love it’s unique nature. It isn’t the fastest Porsche, but it brings a huge smile to my face and the faces of people who see it.
Initially, choosing this car arose out of necessity. Once given the green light by my wife to purchase a Porsche, we agreed on a budget of $10,000. But I soon discovered that ten-thousand didn’t buy much Porsche, which is why I moved to the 912. I learned that ten-thousand also wouldn’t buy a very good 912 either, but then while searching ebay I discovered the mysterious “E” model, only made for a single year. I wasn’t thrilled about the impact bumpers and more modern look compared to the long hoods, but I’m a pragmatist and I realized that this was the Porsche that I could afford unless I wanted to wait another five to ten years. I’m so glad I went with the car because as many know, the things that bug you about a car can often become the things you like the most. I love the look of the car now. I love its underdog Porsche status. I even love the friendly and tunable engine. People often say “Nice 911.” I enjoy correcting them and giving them a small dose of little-known Porsche history.
I found my car through the 912 owners group, for sale in San Fransisco, and they pointed me to it as a good first purchase. They warned me away from cars with fresh resprays and hidden problems and told me to suck up my pride and buy the car with horrible paint and sagging headliner because underneath it was a true gem. I’m still grateful for their guidance. The car had already been “sold” to a gentleman in Germany for more than asking price, but I begged the seller to sell it to me because it was father’s day and it was my dream to own a Porsche. Being a gentleman himself, he granted my request and my first road trip in the car was the triumphant drive home from San Fransisco to my then home in Washington state.
The car is a mostly original 912E. It was in sorry cosmetic shape when I purchased it in 2010, but excellent mechanical condition, and eventually had it completely repainted a few years later. Wanting to do something just slightly different without giving up much originality, I swapped out the original Fuchs wheels for some Gas Burner replicas that I thought played well off of the black paint. Being a pretty avid cyclist, I decided to merge the two hobbies by having Pedro Racks build me a custom rack that could haul around my race steeds in a stylish way. The car is a driver, and is regularly used for road tripping and bike race commuting all over Colorado.
I love driving the car the most up in the Rocky Mountains. The engine doesn’t seem to suffer much at altitude, and the way the car squats low and eats up the corners makes it a blast to drive. The purr of the engine, large greenhouse, and open sunroof open the senses to the beauty of motoring through some of the most majestic mountains the world has to offer. I also love its utter simplicity mechanically-speaking, and appreciate the drivability of its VW-sourced block. I love that my car manages to combine my two hobbies well.
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