From Scratch

A discarded 1984 Targa shell bought for $500 becomes a turbocharged 911 Speedster.

March 2, 2012

Also from Issue 200

  • Short Test: Panamera GTS
  • Driven: Ruf Rt12R
  • Jerry Seinfeld's 550-03
  • 991 across America
  • Bandido: Hot-rod 356 Speedster
  • Peter Schutz looks back
  • 2011 Rennsport Spyder
  • In aluminum: 356 Abarth GTL replica
  • 362,470-mile, one-owner 912
  • Fairy tale 24: Daytona 2012
  • The Longest Day, 1982
  • Stolen! Is your Porsche safe?
  • Tech Forum: Inside the 911 R
  • Interview: Dennis Aase
  • Smart Buy: 912
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Building any car from “scratch” requires a lot of parts. Taking a derelict Targa — just a shell of a car, really — and building it into a tribute to 1989’s 911 Speedster takes a lot of very special, very rare parts.

Porsche built just 2,103 examples of the 1989 911 Speedster, shipping 818 to the U.S. If you wanted one, you had to hustle and you had to have the cash. Dealers regularly asked buyers to pay a premium over the $65,480 sticker. As used cars, they went for even more. That certainly had an affect on used parts availability: As collector cars, 1989 Speedsters aren’t exactly the kind of 911s that end up in wrecking yards on a regular basis. So what about new parts? Well, limited-production cars mean limited-production spare parts.

Jerry Manna isn’t easily discouraged by such obstacles.

“I’ve had my hands on a couple hundred Porsches!” says Jerry, who discovered the joys of Porsches decades ago. Despite his long history with the marque — one that includes owning a multiple-concours-winning 1957 356 Speed­ster and a PCA Porsche Parade class-winning 930S — he was immediately drawn to the beauty, style, and excitement of the 1989 Speedster.

“I had the passion, but not the money!” says Jerry. But he never let go of the idea of owning one. In the back of his mind, he figured he might even be able to build one himself and maybe, just maybe, somehow go one better than the original.

That’s where parts come in.

Jerry describes himself as a “parts jun­kie.” He and close friend Pete Bar­telli like to haunt Porsche swap meets held at places like Hershey and Mechanics­burg in Penn­sylvania. In the early days, he wasn’t buying for any purpose in particular. “I’d buy any parts I could find as long as they were good and reasonable,” he says. “I had a lot of Turbo parts.”

Jerry credits his friend Marcello Nieto for helping to educate him about all things Por­sche, and especially for his love of parts. Jerry says Marcello used to tell him, “Save that bolt, Jerry Manna. Some­day, you are going to need it!” So, long before he had a firm plan in place to build his own Speed­ster, Jerry unknowingly started to accumulate some of the parts he’d need.

Then nature intervened: Healthy and energetic all his life, Jerry was diagnosed with severe blockage and needed open heart surgery. “I began to put my life in order.” To relieve his wife of a burden in case the worst happened, he started to sell off his collection of Porsche parts, including very valuable Speedster parts.

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