The Twelve Builds of Christmas: Part 7

The seventh in our major review of recent Porsche restoration and bespoke builds looks at the original ice driving conversion and 2018 colour change of Below Zero Ice Driving’s Porsche 914: a genuine Porsche 914/6 model from 1970.

12 Builds of Christmas 7: 1970 Porsche 914/6 rebuild

This Porsche 914/6 arrived with Tuthill Porsche in the middle of 2016. We had been looking for a 914/6 to add to to our ice driving fleet, so when this car was offered to us by a friend in California, a deal was agreed and it was shipped to the UK.

Our 914/6 began life as an Irish Green, 2-litre 6-cylinder car. Sold to an owner in San Jose, California, it remained in the same ownership until 1985, when it was bought by its second owner to be rebuilt as a ‘fast road’ car. A California specialist modified the bodywork in steel along the lines of the SCCA race cars, with flared arches and a big front bumper with a nose-mounted oil cooler. The shell was reinforced with additional struts running through the front and rear compartments and a roll hoop was fitted.

The flat six engine had been rebuilt around a later 2.7S engine, with the original 914 intake including Weber carburettors and the original transmission. The owner had intended to go the whole way with a steel GT arch conversion but lost energy in the project. We bought the car with the arches and made a plan to complete the job.

A full fabrication diary meant that this project was put on the backburner for several months after arrival. A chance email from the producers of the Supercar Megabuild TV show brought it out of storage. The programme makers wanted to show their presenters building a classic Porsche ice racer, so we brought the 914 out of the barn and got the project going.

Our first job was to strip the shell and get a good look at condition. The engine and transmission were sent for an overhaul and a list of new parts was ordered for the build, including dampers and brake parts to replace aftermarket items. We had a new wiring loom made for the car and changed some of the original parts to our own items for improved performance and reliability.

Thanks to a life in Southern California, the body was in good condition with very little rust. We began our ice driving preparation by removing the roll hoop and fitting a decent roll cage. The oil cooler mounts were put back to stock locations and the nose was repaired, with standard bumpers refitted. Seat rails and harness mounts were added and we strengthened the front and rear panels, adding towing eyes to allow the car to be pulled out of snow banks surrounding the frozen lakes of Sweden. We also added protective undertrays front and rear.

The final big job in fabrication was to undo the SCCA arch flares and fit the steel GT arches instead. The TV people wanted a silver car with some vinyl wraps to suit their storyline, so our paintshop refinished the interior areas in silver and our friends at Mercedes F1 wrapped it in a vinyl livery. The car was finished on Christmas Eve 2016 and shipped to Sweden in January, when the programme makers flew to Sweden and filmed their programme on our course. Watch some video from the show at the end of this post.

The 914/6 has since been a big hit with our ice driving clients, as the low ride height and mid-engine flavour complements the rear-engine 911s our centre is known for. While the shell was holding up well and the car is mechanically superb, the silver exterior was never quite right so we took time in 2018 to refinish the paintwork in Signal Orange: a more appropriate colour for an early 1970s 914/6 and a better match for our colourful fleet.

While the car was in paint, we carried out a full Below Zero refurb to the drivetrain. The engine was removed for a check and service in the engine shop and the gearbox was fully rebuilt. All of our ice driving cars have new wheel bearings, a suspension strip and check and a brake strip and clean between seasons. We’ve designed a new heating system for 2019, so that was fitted along with a new heated windscreen. Countless other small jobs were attended to by the mechanics before the refurb was finished.

The 914 was shipped out to Sweden with the rest of our ice driving cars a couple of days ago and will be back on the ice once the season opens in January. Get in touch if you’d like to come and have a try: drop Tim Scarff an email at tim@belowzeroicedriving.com to enquire about bookings.