French Kiss

Also from Issue 163

  • Rennsport Reunion III
  • Driving the Brumos 914-6 GT at Daytona
  • Wingho’s Wild W3 (964) Three-Seater
  • Tightening Up the 997 Turbo
  • 356 Notchback Revitalized with 911 Power
  • Market Update: 924, 944, and 968
  • 400,000-mile Carrera 3.2 Reborn
  • Project 1951 356 Gläser cabrio
  • Cayenne GTS: The Best Cayenne
  • Base 997 Coupe Short Test
  • Porsche Icon: 908/2 Spyder
  • 911 Master-Cylinder Re-do
  • Gasoline Direct Injection
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1972 911T with panache 1
1972 911T with panache 2
1972 911T with panache 3
1972 911T with panache 4
1972 911T with panache 5
1972 911T with panache 6
1972 911T with panache 7

“When I was young, my father and my uncle both owned 911s,” he begins. “One car in particular I remember was a ’67 S my uncle purchased new from Vasek Polak Porsche. Eventually, my father ended up buying that car, and I always enjoyed riding in it.” But immediate family wasn’t the only influence on Smith as a child. “In the early eigthties, I used to walk past a house on the way to school, and the guy who lived there always had two 911s in his driveway. The cars would change from time to time, but one specific car stood out to me. One day, I walked by and there was a silver 911 SC coupe with bright trim and a red full-leather interior. The memory of that car is what motivated me to build this car the way I did.”

In 1991, a 21-year-old Smith purchased a solid but ratty 1972 911T. He drove the car as-is for a couple years before tearing it down for the restoration. Standing in the garage and looking at the results of many years of hard work, my mind is filled with questions. With Smith behind the wheel, I can ask them. On this idyllic Portland summer day, he’s got the electric sunroof open and we’re enjoying the sun and wind coursing through what’s left of our middle-aged hair. He explains that the ski rack creates the majority of the wind noise we’re hearing and that he typically removes it for any serous drives. For what we’re doing, it isn’t an issue.

As I fiddle with the window switch on the passenger door, he branches out on a detailed lecture of the rarity and esoteric appeal of what he refers to as “guillotine” windows. It seems the earliest 911 power window systems were not only ruthlessly quick, but also lacked any sort of safety protection in case an errant finger found itself between the window frame and the rapidly closing glass! And, sure enough, running the window from full open to closed drives home the point that all limbs and digits should be carefully kept far away from the process. The window snaps shut with unpitying efficiency.

If nothing else will make an impression on your lady friend on the way to dinner, rest assured: this 911’s rich red interior will. Red leather was a stunning yet relatively rare choice for a 911 in the late sixties and early seventies. Back in 1972, even when this option was chosen, the red was limited to the seats, center of the door panels, deco strip on the dash, and the rear package-tray area. The result is a severe red/black contrast that can draw your eye away from the cabin’s architecture.

When Smith set out to trim his interior, he took additional steps that would guarantee a unique 911 interior. First of all, everything was trimmed in red leather. The dash was wrapped along with the center speaker grill. In addition, the door-tops were wrapped and even the lower door pockets received a fresh covering in fine red leather. Looking down, you notice thick red wool carpeting protected by a set of dealer-option Coco mats. The extra panels that wrap over the center tunnel differentiate these new old stock mats from modern copies. The extra panels are connected to the main mats via small leather straps. Extremely rare, these mats were discovered in the parts stash of Gary Emory at Parts Obsolete.

When asked where he found the red carpet, Smith explains that new old stock parts were far easier to come by back in the 1980s. However, he’s not suggesting that this is NOS red carpet. No, that would be too simple. A NOS carpet set was used — but only for the original backing materials. The top side was torn off and thrown away, being replaced with the red wool carpeting seen here.

The rare Coco mats were not the only thing Smith discovered at Emory’s place. During one of many treasure hunts into Emory’s vast spare-parts collection, Smith located three NOS lower cushions for Recaro sport seats. The first was a brown plaid, the second a Madres Blue Tartan pattern, and the third a red Tartan pattern Smith immediately recognized would be the defining element of his interior. The only problem was he had just one cushion — what to do? Most of us would probably start shopping for a material close to the pattern, but not Smith.

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