From Scratch

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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Fortunately, the operation was 100-percent successful and, shortly after his recovery he was back in top form — even competing in hardball squash tournaments at the local YMCA. All this happened around 1998, nearly a decade after the 1989 Speed­ster set a fire under Jerry. That fire hadn’t died, either: Jerry returned to looking for hard-to-find Speedster bits, searching local swap meets. Eventually, he hit pay dirt.

Jerry, who seems to have a photographic memory for this kind of stuff, says he had seen the very same stash of ’89 Speedster parts — a windshield, a pair of side windows, the double-hump fairing, and a canvas roof — at a swap meet a year earlier. The parts were in great shape, but he took a pass because of the asking price.

The seller had tried to do the conversion but gave up and wanted to cash out. “I’m pretty sure he paid around $6,000 for the parts — too expensive for me!” says Jerry. “He’d wanted to convert a Targa to a Cabriolet (and) told me that it was a difficult project.” Jerry had offered to lend the man a book from Porsche on how to convert a 911 Targa into a Cab­rio­let. One year later, the man was ready to sell the parts at a greatly reduced price. How reduced? All Jerry will say is this: “He wanted a lot more!”

Jerry continued to buy parts, including a Euro-spec 3.2-liter engine and a G50 transmission. “The engine was $4,500 and is rated at 230 hp,” he says. “The transmission was another $1,500.” But it wasn’t until he found a stripped 1984 Targa shell for $500 that the project really took off. As part of the deal, he was able to buy two 1994 964 Speed­ster doors and RS door cards. He soon added a pair of 930 quarter panels to his cache, buying them from a friend who does Gem­balla conversions.

Around the same time, 1999, Jerry was at the Hershey Porsche swap when he spotted a pile of 930 parts. One vendor had 930 front fenders, front and rear bumpers, side rockers, rear lower extensions, and a new old stock speedometer. But Jerry felt the prices were too high. “So I went back at the end of the day and he said, ‘Well, whaddya gonna give me for this?’” Jerry made a lowball offer of $800. It was accepted. “That was a great price!” exclaims Jerry.

It’s important to mention that building this car wasn’t Jerry’s full-time job. He has a “real job” working for a Fortune 500 company, and worked on the car in his limited spare time. Things were moving forward, but the pace was slow. About that time, Jerry’s local mechanic — Paul Faieta at Proto­Sport in Pompton Plains, New Jersey — offered his services as a project manager. Jerry, while a very hands-on kind of guy, accepted the offer. After hanging the fenders and doors himself, he put the car on a trailer and towed it to ProtoSport.

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