Ed Mayo’s measured delivery and soft demeanor are misleading. Behind that weathered exterior is a mind that’s working overtime. When he isn’t thinking about fixing early Porsches, he’s figuring out new ways to make them better.
I first met Mayo in the spring of 2000 at the 10th Anniversary gathering of the Early 911 S Registry in Las Vegas. He needed a ride to the event hotel, and I had an open passenger seat. During that short run in my 1972 911 S, I learned a few things about the man.
Even then Mayo’s reputation preceded him—at least to those who had heard of him. He had won the technical quiz for the early 911 category at the Porsche Club of America’s Parade on numerous occasions and would often take first place at the event’s autocross. He was also known for building some of the best hot-rod 911s east of California.
What I hadn’t discovered yet, until that brief drive together, was that Mayo is the real thing. His humble and self-effacing manner is the opposite of self-indulgent. That and his salt-of-the-earth character explain why he’s so well liked. Along with his authentic appearance and disinterest in marketing, it also accounts for why he remains relatively unknown, even today.
Some of these early 911 pioneers are well known to Porsche enthusiasts: Eberhard Mahle, Max Moritz, Gerard Larrousse, Jürgen Barth, the Kremer brothers, Paul Ernst Strahle, Peter Gregg, Mark Donohue, Alan Johnson, Richie Ginther, Michael Keyser, Bjorn Waldegard, Alois Ruf, Francis Tuthill, Al Holbert, Bruce Jennings, Chuck Stoddard, Vasek Polak, the Aase brothers, Dieter Inzenhofer, Jerry Woods, and Gary Emory, the original “Outlaw.”
Other names are perhaps less familiar and include some U.S.-based early 911 hot-rodders from the ’60s and ’70s: Folks like Roger Bursch, Dan McLaughlin, Mac Tilton, Ray Litz, Adrian Gang, Bill Yates, Al Martinez, Levon Pentecost, Jerry Titus, Bert Everett, Davey Jordan, Tony Adamowicz, Rolly Resos, Bruce O’Neil, Mike Hammond, Dick Elverud, Harold Broughton, and Dave Bouzaglou.
A third party of trailblazers joined their ranks in the early ’80s, customizers like Tony Garcia, Tony Gerace, Chris Powell, Phil Bagley, Hayden Burvill, Gordon Ledbetter, Jeff Gamroth, and Rod Emory, among others. Later, Cris Huergas, Freeman Thomas, and Roger Grago introduced the idea of forming an early 911 club called R Gruppe that would celebrate these modifications.
Mayo will reluctantly tell you he just happens to be from the second group. But, of course, there is more to it than that. Here’s the untold story.
In 1967, Mayo became a member of the Northern Ohio Region of the PCA. Then in 1971 he moved to Texas’ Maverick Region, where he remains an integral participant today. Initially he worked as a mechanic at Porsche dealers in Dallas and Fort Worth. Later he set up a shop in the nearby suburb of Euless, where his reputation solidified. If you wanted your Porsche optimized for autocrossing in the South, he was the guy to do it.
“My first Porsche was a 1960 356 Roadster,” reveals Mayo. “I campaigned it in SCCA racing for a dozen years, then sold it in 1978 to move up to the D/P class and a 911. That’s when a customer’s son spun a 1970 S coupe and bent the left rear control arm. Rather than repair it, the man sold me the whole car for $1500!”
Mayo never drove that 911 S on the street. He just stripped it down and converted it for racing. He did the same thing with a 914, an autocross weapon affectionatly known as “The Cockroach.” It was about the same time that he partnered with Al Zim in Euless, repairing Porsches and modifying them for sport purposes.
“We had a customer in the early ’80s who had a Silver Euro 1972 911 S. The coupe had no A/C, no sunroof, and a plastic gas tank,” Mayo recalls. “It originally came out of California and had been maintained by Andial [another early innovator]. Whenever I would do a service on that car, I was always impressed with how well it ran. That was, to my way of thinking, the last of the original “hot-rod” Porsches.”
As luck would have it, his customer decided to sell the ’72 S in late ’83. Mayo wanted it bad, but the going price was a stretch for him, even though he laughs at the number now. Somehow he made it happen, and thirty years, two divorces, and 100,000 miles later he still has that 911.
To make life more interesting, Mayo and Zim split in 1984. Mayo suddenly found himself unemployed, owing child support, making payments on the ’72 S, and getting married again. He did the only thing he could think of—he opened his own business named Mayo Performance in a rental space in the same town.
That’s when a 1967 911 S showed up.
“I first saw it at the Zim/Mayo shop in 1983. It had come in for a repaint and engine rebuild,” remembers Mayo. “The owner was looking for a little more power, so I installed 906 cams in the 2.0-liter motor. Not a wise choice for a street car actually, but hey, I was young and foolish back then! The customer then decided to help the ‘restoration’ along by having the body sandblasted. This, of course, severely warped every panel. All that was left in usable condition were the roof and doors.”
Fortunately that 1967 911 S, #306747S, had always been a Ft. Worth car, so it lacked rust. The front suspension pan was the only section of the chassis to be replaced due to the usual battery venting. Although the car was originally Light Ivory, the customer decided to have it painted Marathon Blue Metallic, a ’73-74 914 color.
For various reasons, the owner never got around to reassembling his ’67 S. It sat for a dozen years, then he went missing for another dozen. In 2008 Mayo finally tracked down the owner and convinced him to sell it for $26,000. “I picked the car up the next day before he could change his mind. The paint had some dings and scratches from being moved around, but it cleaned up well enough that I didn’t need to refinish it,” Mayo reports.
Since the original bumpers, seats, and all attaching hardware were missing, Mayo decided his ’67 S rebuild would be more competition based than correct stock. Mayo had been saving up parts for just such an occasion. He had a pair of Fuchs 7R wheels, a ’69-71 S oil thermostat set-up, fiberglass bumpers and hood, and he ordered 911 R and Nürburgring replica seats from GTS Classics in Austin. Rather than worrying about trying to match the 25-year-old paint, he had the bumpers and lids painted Gulf Orange for a late ’60s to early ’70s theme.
By the time all the panels were assembled, Mayo was rapidly approaching his deadline of taking the ’67 S to Savannah, Georgia’s PCA Parade in August, 2011. He still needed to finish the upholstery, install a front oil cooler, and refurbish the suspension. “I replaced all the bushings with standard rubber, including the steering coupler. Since this car would be used for long trips, I didn’t want the noise and harshness of harder pieces. I also intended to autocross, so I just stiffened the rear. It now has 26mm Turbo rear torsion bars along with a 15mm rear sway bar. The front suspension is stock 18mm torsion and 15mm sway bars.”
Mayo bought a used pair of rear Koni external adjustment shocks, as used on Trans-Am 911s, from Don Ahearn. He also installed a ’68 and later dual-circuit master cylinder and added a BMW brake fluid reservoir, partitioned internally to individually feed each circuit. “The beauty is it’s round and mounts in the same location as the original.”
For upholstery, all the S-specific interior pieces were still there, so Mayo simply had them recovered in the correct material and added a black headliner. The car’s original sound deadening was kept, because this was to be a cross country driver. Mike Kuhn of Mayo Performance applied a perlon carpet kit from Autobahn Interiors after deleting the rear seats for a lightweight, practical look. Floor mats are the thin ribbed rubber “industrial” type used in Porsche’s competition cars.
“For cooling I used SC oil lines and a ’84 911 front fender cooler.” Mayo explains, “Even on the hottest day the oil temp never goes above 190 degrees F. For the right exhaust noise, I took an old junk muffler that someone once attempted to make into a sport type, patched it up, and made it look like an R-type muffler. Of course, the car needed some competition lighting, so I bought vintage Cibie hood lights.”
Period-correct Cibie and Gulf logo decals were commissioned for the front fenders using vintage photos. The ’68 Monte-Carlo Rally decal came from M. Campuzano, and the side stripes and engine lid letters were sourced from Bob Tilton. Rubber hold-down ties, a hood prop, and factory dead pedal were added for functionality. The ’67 headlights, single silver wiper, and green faced S gauges were simply cleaned up, completing the no-frills look. Mayo chose not to use grafted-in 911 R turn signals, a louvered deck lid, or drilled door handles—as had been done by other innovators many years before. He acknowledges, “It’s an R Gruppe car, but not a copy of any particular 911.”
There were the usual rough spots along the way. One of these involved Mayo’s vintage 100-liter plastic BASF fuel tank. This trick piece looks the part and provides a driving range of about 400 miles from 26 gal., compared to the standard 250 miles with a stock 16.4-gal. tank. It was fastened down using 914 gas tank strap ends, and a 5.0-in. hole was cut in the hood for the center fill opening. When Mayo put gas in the old tank for the first time, it was leaking by the next morning. He immediately called Mark Allen of Vintage Excellence for one of his steel reproduction 100-liter tanks. When it arrived the filler neck was off by two inches. Mayo won’t go into detail as to how he fixed his plastic tank but admits, “Lowe’s was involved.”
Then just six weeks before departure, Mayo started the ’67 S engine after it had been sitting for almost two years. An intake valve momentartily stuck and was hit by a piston. Mayo continues, “Engine out, head off, replace valve. So much for being on schedule! Of course the ‘while I’m in there’ process started, and I took time to install the correct S cams.
“Two days before my trip, I went to position the engine lid grille. I discovered most of the delicate little mounting studs were broken. So I decided it was time to make a lightweight version: ‘Hmm…what can I use for the mesh?’ I saw the bottom of an old aluminum screen door in our scrap-metal pile. The mesh looked close to OEM. Two hours later, I had a fake 911 R grille on the car.”
Practice makes perfect, and Mayo kept touring in his ’67 S coupe, now nicknamed “Quick Vic” (for factory driver Elford). He first traveled to the annual Texas Hill Country Rallye in April, which Mayo helped organize, and then to the 2012 Porsche Parade in Salt Lake City, where he won his autocross class. Finally he visited the eastern R Gruppe Treffen called “Bergrennen” in West Virginia that fall.
At each event, Mayo would be called upon to be “MacGyver.” He would rescue a fallen comrade by troubleshooting the most obscure of problems. It’s said he can repair a 911 MFI system to race-ready status with a strand of human hair. On one tour, Mayo repaired a set of points with a paper clip and a tie wrap. Legend has it he once used his own belt to keep a 911 alternator running for 57 days straight. Then there’s the story about how he accurately measures compression ratio by using a dummy cylinder head made from Plexiglass so that real cubic piston dome volume can determined with a burette.
Although his knowledge of 1964-73 Porsches is encyclopedic, Mayo’s modesty about his innovative modifications keeps him out of the spotlight. That hasn’t prevented his friends from realizing he’s one of the true 911 hot-rod innovators, one who’s always giving of his time without commercial concern.
So the next time I’m at a concours and someone says, “Original is best,” I’ll turn and say, “When it comes to outlaws and mavericks, you may just be right.”