Scowl Wagon

A 924 Turbo, preserved on the cheap.

May 18, 2012
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My wife thought I was crazy. She wanted to know what I was going to do with it, a car that shouldn’t be fixed.” Thus begins Tony Griffin’s tale of a nine month odyssey that transformed a 1982 924 Turbo from damaged barn-find to concours entry.

Griffin laughs and continues: “So I told her, ‘Well, I’m going to fix it, I’m going to take it to Porsche Parade, and then I’m going to sell it.’”The Craigslist ad that initially sparked his interest had read, in part: “…I bought the car as a project and never got to it. Lite front end damage. Frame horns pushed a little to the right, but I had a frame shop straighten them…”

Griffin had allotted a thin budget for the project, and the wounded 931’s price was right, so he and his wife loaded the family’s Chevy Astro van and trekked 400 miles from tiny Flora, Indiana to the town of California, Pennsylvania, just south of Pittsburgh. There, a deal was struck for the 30-year-old Porsche with 77,000miles on the odometer. $1,000.

“On the way home, the right rear tire blew on the car,” says Griffin with a chuckle. “The insurance that U-Haul had talked me into (on a tow dolly rental) paid me $875 for damage done to the rear fender. So, I actually started out with a $125 car.”

Tony’s business, Griffin’s Service Center, is a small one-man shop “in the middle of nowhere” servicing Porsches, Alfa Romeos, BMWs, Volkswagens…even the occasional Ferrari. Four years ago, after 35 years wrenching mostly for Porsche dealerships and independents,Griffin opened his own shop. “It seems that most of the cars people bring in are ones they want me to preserve; the cars have been sitting in garages for five, six, seven years and the owners have never had the time or maybe the gumption to get them done.”

Thus, this newest project would fit comfortably in his domain. But Griffin’s professional pursuits weren’t the impetus for his desire to take a car to the Porsche Club of America’s annual Porsche Parade.

“I restored a car for my children a year earlier,” he says. “I picked up an ’81 924 for $200. It was not rusty, but it was really rough.”He brought that car back from the dead and wrote an article for the Central Indiana PCA region newsletter about the process of restoring a Scowl Wagon.

“Yeah, that’s what we called these cars back when I worked for the dealership,” he says, noting that the mere presence of a 924 brought scowls to the faces of many at the Porsche store. After finishing that restoration, Griffin was surprised to find he really liked the result. So did his kids, who today share it as a summer driver. Meanwhile,Griffin’s sights shifted toward the next project…

The Griffins arrived back at their Indiana home with their newest Porsche purchase on November 6, 2010, and the project began the following day. The reason for the car’s decade of inactivity was immediately apparent.

“The body man who started working on the car had no idea what he was doing,” says Griffin. “He cut the frame horn open from outside the inner fenderwells and tried to go in and, I assume, pound them out to try to straighten the rails."

Also from Issue 202

  • F.A. Porsche, 1935-2012
  • 1958 550A Spyder: Badly burned car restored
  • 1984 911 Turbo: 700+ hp ethanol conversion
  • 2012 TechArt 991S: First drive
  • 1962 356 Carrera 2000 GS
  • 1971 911S-T: Olive Tart
  • 1970 914
  • Smart Buy: 1984-86 Carrera
  • ACC InnoDrive: Driving an autonomous Porsche
  • Meet the man who founded IMSA
  • Hydro-Pneumatic
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