30 Mar 2013

Speedmonkey Fleet - Getting a handle on the Porsche 924S

Matt Hubbard reports on the Speedmonkey Fleet - a 1998 Land Rover Discovery V8, a 2004 Audi S4 Avant, a 1986 Porsche 924S and a 2011 Triumph Street Triple.  This time it's all about the Porsche, which is proving to be a brilliant machine, but has a couple of jobs that need doing.

Back in the mists of time (1986) a German man, or woman, in the VW factory at Neckarsulm, Baden-W├╝rttemberg installed the driver's door handle to my 924S.  He may or may not have sported a mullet and snow-washed denim jeans but he certainly installed it faster than it took me to repair mine.

When I bought the Porsche a few weeks ago the previous owner knocked £200 off the asking price because the clasp had snapped off and the driver's door could only be opened from the inside.  The 924S runs so well I've been using it a lot, so getting in from the passenger side, or leaving the window open so as to gain access to the internal lever, was proving to be almighty pain.

A Porsche handle cost £195.  But the actual clasp, which was the only part that needed replacing, was shared with the Golf Mk2.  An entire Golf handle, including clasp, cost £3.95.  So I ordered one and it turned up last week.

The government are stupid and still make us live through darkness in early spring evenings (the clocks change to summer time today in the UK) so I had to wait until the weekend to fix the handle.  I'd scanned a few forums and knew it wasn't going to be easy and would need a good few hours of daylight.

Good Friday came and the weather was half decent so I started work on the handle.  The door card came off pretty easy although there are lots of screws that need undoing - this is a solid car.  The handle itself was also easy to remove - partially at least.

The problems arose when it came to the final stages of undoing everything.  The handle is attached to the locking gubbins via one small ball joint and one steel rod.  The ball joint came out OK but the rod wouldn't shift so I had to conduct everything with the handle hanging from the door.  I couldn't see what was going on from inside the door because the window mechanism was in the way.  The whole operation was conducted with long nosed tools, fingers grabbing for whatever they could find and sheer bloody mindedness.

It took getting on for 3 hours (and half a dozen cups of tea) in total and was the nearest I'll ever get to keyhole surgery. It was also extremely satisfying, if not that much fun, to do the job myself rather than pay someone else to do it.

Typically I'd lost the final screw, which keeps the lock in place, so spent half an hour trying to find it and gave up.  Took the car for a test drive and when I came back and got out I spotted the screw on the ground.

I also jacked the Porsche up and had a look around underneath.  Everything looks good - no evidence of rust or corrosion in the body or chassis and the suspension components are in great condition.

I then went for a 40 mile spin along my favourite route - Newbury to Andover to Whitchurch (Hampshire) to Kingsclere and back to home in Aldermaston.  Fast flowing B and minor roads with some epic corners and some long straights.  The Porsche took everything in it's stride.  The steering is razor sharp, the brakes have lots of bite and feedback, the ride is composed and never gets unsettled.  For such an old car, and the baby of the Porsche family, it's incredible fun to drive.

The only thing that lets it down is the aftermarket alarm that a previous owner fitted.  It's a Toad system and works well but drains the battery in 48 hours.  I have to get it removed.  My next job is to find a decent auto electrician in the West Berkshire area to remove all traces of it.  If you are one, or know one, please let me know.

We've decided to replace the old Land Rover Discovery 2 V8 with either a Disco 2 TD5 or Disco 3 TDV6.  Our budget of £8000 allows for a Disco 2 in great condition or an early, high mileage Disco 3. If you've experience of either of these please get in touch.  You can find my contact details on the About page.

Matt