Second Bill

Also from Issue 199

  • Driven: Cayenne S Hybrid
  • Driven: Boxster Spyder
  • Inside the 2012 991
  • Preserved 1957 356
  • Rescusitated 1971 911T
  • History: 1971 Daytona 24
  • GT3 Cup wins Thunderhill 25
  • The evolution of Porsche lighting.
  • Richard Attwood: The quiet Le Mans winner
  • Tech: Smoke, oil filter, airbag light, IMS
  • U.S. military officer drives the Nürburgring
  • Disappearing Porsche toolkits
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Photo by A.J. Miller
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THE PROCESS OF MAKING THE 930 HIS OWN would wait 15 years before it began in earnest. After Brian moved to Flat Rock, North Carolina to open MacEachern Motor­sport, which specializes in vintage racing engines, Bill’s attention returned to the 930 and a series of developments that continue, really, to this day.

Incompetents and scoundrels lie in wait. Also, Jerry Woods in Campbell, Cali­fornia, whose wheel alignment in their first meeting corrected bothersome handling that had existed since some flawed magician in Toron­to changed the suspension bushings. Another gem: Auguste Lecourt, Heim­rath’s race mechanic in ’77, whose Auguste Automobile Service in St. Catharines, Ontario provided refuge whenever somebody else’s promises delivered grief.

Bill talks about the peaks and valleys inevi­table in longterm ownership. The car was repainted in 1995 — two decades into his ownership — in the same Mid­night Blue he had insisted on in 1975 (Porsche initially declared it unavailable). That was a peak, absolutely. Budget troubles just as his first rebuilt engine expired, a valley.

A call from Canadian racer Rick Bye, whom Bill knew from Heimrath’s shop, was a lifesaver: Bye asked if Bill knew anyone interested in a 3.3-liter engine built by Tom Milner’s operation (Milner went on to run BMW’s North American race team) with a Garretson intercooler? For $5,000? How quickly do you suppose Bill replied?

Driving to Laguna Seca, California in 1998 when Porsche was honored at the Monterey Historics, another peak. Seeing the oil temperature climb in the mountains during the return trip, smelling exhaust when on boost, a low. Milner’s outstanding engine required renewal with 275,000 miles showing on the odometer.

“Meanwhile, I’m reading in Excellence about Porsche engines producing 800 to 900 horsepower,” says Bill. “And, like I said, I’m always interested in technological breakthroughs. So I decided to ship my car to this shop in California. Not that I’m blaming Excellence in any way for this, but it turned out to be the worst thing I ever did — as well as the start of everything that has followed.” Bill won’t stoop to naming the shop in question, noting only that it no longer advertises in Excellence.

The job took a year rather than a month as promised. The engine didn’t feel “right” in the long-anticipated drive home, which is to say nowhere close to 500 hp. Festering the sore, his wife complained of a troubling gasoline smell, which Bill dealt with by opening the sunroof. After limping home successfully, Auguste found low compression in cylinder number one. Bill got on the phone to California. The wizards there seemed shocked that anything was wrong and invited Bill to ship the Porsche back, which in a great leap of faith he did.

“After taking a look, they claimed nothing was really wrong except a loose wire on one of the coils,” says Bill. “But they phoned later to say they wanted me to be happy so they’d build it over again, which sounded great. I should have asked how much they would charge, because the night before I was to fly out to pick up the car, a courier delivered a stack of invoices and the total was exactly what I paid the first time. I got on the phone and yelled and screamed, but they had me hostage. I got stung, big time.”

California engine No. 2 expired with a spun bearing two years later. If tombstones were carved for engines, Victim of Improp­erly Reground Crankshaft would mark this one. “I could’ve bought a new Porsche for what I spent. I think of those guys in Cali­fornia as great architects, but lousy builders.”

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