I was starting to think I needed to buy this car. But not so fast. A little “due diligence” was required. I had a couple of discussions about the history of the car with it’s owner, Joel. And as I pointed out in my previous article, there was a lot of good feedback on Rennlist from guys that knew Joel and the car. That helped with my confidence level a lot. I asked Joel if there was anyone in his area that could do a PPI (pre-purchase inspection). He couldn’t come up with a 928 expert but did know a general Porsche mechanic that he could take the car to. So I agreed to foot the bill for a PPI. The mechanic did a compression check and found all 8 cylinders to register around 180 psi. It seems that you have to take the manifold off to reach some of the spark plugs! But things are reasonably priced in Ohio and the PPI cost less than $200, including a few minor repairs. The car got a clean bill of health.
My next concern was those fancy 3 piece wheels. At first I thought them to be a little too “bling-ee”. But as I saw a few more pictures I had to agree they did a good job of improving the overall look of the car, which is hard to do with a 928! Joel told me they were on the car when he bought it and that he understood they were originally specified for a 930. They are a Porsche OEM 3 piece wheel. Joel knew of 1 heavy dent in the rim of 1 wheel and some curb rash. I asked him to take them to the local Wheel Medic” to get them inspected. I posted Joel some funds to get the dent removed, get the curb rash fixed, and I obtained an overall validation from the Wheel Medic that the wheels were sound and true. I also split the difference with Joel on a new set of front tires.
So at this point, I was pretty confident that I was getting ready to buy a sound car. Joel confirmed a couple of things near and dear to me i.e. a functioning A/C and a functioning cruise control. So with all these preliminaries behind us, I committed to fly up from North Carolina on Saturday October 5th to meet Joel in Columbus and drive the car home.
I got up at 5 am to be at the Raleigh airport for my flight via Charlotte to Columbus. The flights went smoothly and I met Joel at the exit from the airport. We shook hands and climbed into the 928 for the short drive to his home. I spent an hour talking to Joel and getting familiar with the car. There were no surprises. The car was exactly as Joel had described it. Joel had everything prepared for the transaction. A signed and notarized title. A fat book of receipts gathered since he purchased the car in Miami, FL some years back. Posters and spare parts. All the keys. He even had the original owners manual that was signed by Hurley Haywood and Graham Rahal!
It was then that disaster struck. We had been in and out of the car. The windows were rolled up because we were having some rain showers. Joel had been explaining the various controls. We had talked about the alarm system. Joel had the drivers door open but allowed it to shut. Clunk. Phsst. Snap. The car locked itself. Oh crap! All the keys were in the car, ready for my departure.
This car cost over $50,000 in 1986. That was a lot of money. Apparently Porsche was very concerned that Porsche 928 owners would be very concerned about theft. So we were getting ready to find out that they had done a fine job of making this car the equivalent of Fort Knox. We called a locksmith, who eventually arrived. We said “Porsche 928” and he said “There isn’t any car that I can’t get into”. He almost had to eat those words!
He starts by talking to Joel about the protocol for unlocking the car from the inside. I get a sense that Joel doesn’t lock himself in or out of the car very much, as he is a little uncertain as to how the alarm system is designed. We do know that the standard locking rods at the rear of the door sills are smooth and offer no grip. There is a central locking button in the center of the dashboard. There are the door handles. And there are some rotary knobs recessed into the doors under the locking rods. I naively ask the locksmith if he can’t just stick some little rods into the lock cylinder like in the movies. He sadly shakes his head no. He goes to his truck and gets a couple of flat sacks with little hoses and a bulb attached, like the bulb on a blood pressure cuff. He explains that he will force the flat bags into the space between the top of the door and the roof frame. He will then pump air into the sacks, which will move the top of the door out slightly. This will allow him to insert tools into the car. The tools in this case are one of those little springy things that have a claw at the end, that I use to snag bolts and nuts that I drop into unfortunate places on my engine. He wants to grab the end of the locking rod. Pumping open the bags to create a space goes well but there is no way his little claw is going to grab the locking rod. We move on to a long metal rod, which he inserts through the crack at the top of the door. First he tries pushing the central locking button on the dash. No joy. Then he bends the rod differently and manages to snag the door handle. I actually see the door handle get pulled fully open 3 times. Still no joy. Oh crap. We are running out of ideas. The key is those rotary knobs in the doors. But there is no way this flimsy rod is going to reach in and rotate those knobs. Porsche kind of figured that one out ahead of time, don’t you think? It takes a finger and an opposing thumb to rotate those knobs. Not a job for reach rods.
Huh! Well, all the keys are in the car. We decide to go after the keys. We see one key in a little leather bag on the center console. We snag it with the rod but it falls into the drivers seat. Better, actually, as we can push it against the bolsters and work it around to our advantage. Eventually, after multiple attempts and bending of the rod, we manage to snag the key and lift it towards the crack in the door. As we get close the key looms larger and larger through the side glass and the crack in the door does not look adequate. We get the little metal ring through the key through the crack. We grab the ring with needle nose pliers. We get a small portion of the key through the crack. We get a screwdriver through the slot in the key. We carefully lever the screwdriver against the sheetmetal and shazam, out pops the key. Much celebratory dancing and fist pumping ensues. The locksmith is an instant 928 specialist! I could give you his name but you can’t afford him now that he is THE MAN 🙂 The locksmith completes a credit card transaction with Joel. I slip him a substantial cash tip because I really really didn’t want to fly back to NC with no car while we were ordering keys from Germany. Joel and I have a celebratory beer. The sun is setting in the west but I decide to get down the road a ways before I crash at a motel, although I am fairly well spent emotionally. Poor Joel, he almost got to keep his 928 but his plan didn’t quite work out. Oh well.
Next time: Road trip home. Driving impressions.