Captain Kaos

A Bitter Chocolate-hued 911 3.0 SC is turned into a surprisingly quick hot rod.

Photo: Captain Kaos 1
October 29, 2020

A few years ago Erik Lind decided he needed to have a vintage, air-cooled 911 in his life. He also decided that whichever example he ended up with would have to be in one of those weird but wonderful colors that populate the Porsche color palette. “I really wanted one of the odd colors—Green, Aubergine, etc.,” he says. Lind was also open to the browns and tans that were fashionable on Porsches in the 1970s and early 1980s. The second criteria for his ideal 911 was that it needed to be one of the practically bullet-proof SCs that Porsche made from 1978 to 1983, saying: “SCs are still somewhat affordable, the 3.0-liter is an excellent engine, and the galvanized body is a big plus!”

It didn’t take long for Lind to locate the perfect example that ticked all the right boxes. A day after telling his wife he was on the hunt for a 911, what appeared to be an ideal candidate popped up for sale on an online classified forum. The car in question was a 1980 911 3.0 SC coupe. It came with extensive service records and looked to be in very nice shape, at least judging from the photos that the seller had posted. Perhaps most importantly, however, was the fact that it had departed Stuttgart finished in Bitter Chocolate. Paint code #408 is a rich brown color, so it definitely checked the ‘odd color’ box.

“The owner was a longtime PCA guy, a racer, and had two 930s he was restoring,” says Lind, who quickly booked an airline flight to Montana, where the car was located. “It was almost snow time, so he had it priced accordingly. I flew up, checked out the car in the airport parking lot and blasted off.” The condition of the car was even better than the seller had claimed, which was a relief. “I drove it home over two days, mostly in pouring rain and eventually snow over the Sierras.” Thankfully, the old SC ran and performed flawlessly for the entire drive. By the time he arrived home, tired but elated, he knew he had bought the right car.

While this was his first time purchasing a 911, Lind had prior experience with the brand included a 2.0-liter 914 that he had restored in his garage. After he sold that, he built another 914, but instead of keeping it stock, he slotted a fuel-injected Buick V8 into the engine bay in place of the original air-cooled flat-four. Interestingly, before owning the two 914s, Lind had leaned more in the direction of Bavaria when it came to his preference for German cars.

“I was always a BMW guy when it came to sports cars,” he admits. “I never really got the whole Porsche thing.” At least he didn’t until he bought that first 914. Owning the two mid-engine Porsches served as a pretty convincing gateway into the larger Porsche world. “The handling sold me,” he says. A 911 seemed like a logical progression in his ownership experience. “It’s almost hard to define why it is the way it is, but there is something very special about the 911.”

Photo: Captain Kaos 2

Another thing about Lind is that he definitely falls into the camp of believing there is always ways to improve on an original, stock car. “I’m a serial hot rodder,” he admits. “I can never leave anything alone.” And the Bitter Chocolate 911 is an excellent example of just that philosophy. Since its acquisition, pretty much every aspect of the SC has been altered, upgraded or customized in some way. In fact, Lind’s desire to improve his 911 and the ensuing success he experienced prompted him to start a new company. He now runs Sports Purpose Garage in Livermore, California, where he specializes in classic Porsches.

While some of the changes are aesthetic in nature, the majority of them were done with a few different goals in mind. Those included more power, better handling, and more immediate stopping ability. But Lind also wanted to lighten the 911, which would yield a purer, more focused driving experience.

“I went all Colin Chapman on the car and removed anything unneeded, lightened what I could, and tweaked the ergonomics to suit my frame,” he says. “The goal was a fast, reliable car that can go on a long trip, hit the race track, or daily drive if I feel like it.” But while he wanted more performance, he also didn’t want to spoil the Porsche’s usability, which is one of the brand’s most cherished qualities: “I wanted to keep it civilized enough to take my wife and daughter for rides without them hating me.”

The initial stages of the build involved tweaking the chassis but leaving the 3.0-liter engine stock, which was originally rated at about 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. In order to increase the SC’s stopping ability, Boxster brakes have been installed at all four corners. The setup uses larger calipers and rotors that are bolted to the existing suspension with the use of adapter blocks.

On the handling end of the equation are KW Competition coilovers at all four corners. An Elephant Racing bump steer kit was installed to eliminate the tendency of lowered 911s to exhibit bump steer over surface undulations. Body roll around corners has been virtually eliminated with larger front and rear Tarett adjustable anti-roll bars. There are also Tarett camber plates at the top of the front struts, Elephant Racing offset ball joints and bushings, a zero friction kit, and welded-in shock tower reinforcements.

Photo: Captain Kaos 3

Over the years Lind has gone through multiple sets of wheels before arriving at the setup that the 911 currently rolls on. Sourced from English company Group 4 Wheels, the gold-colored Campagnolo-style wheels are wrapped with 225/50-16 front and 245/45-16 Toyo RA-1 rear tires. The design of the wheels was inspired by those used on 1970s rally cars. Honestly, the aesthetics are a refreshing alternative to the ubiquitous Fuchs alloys that are seen on the majority of classic 911s.

Once he had the handling and braking set up to his liking, Lind turned to upgrading this 911’s powerplant. Anyone familiar with these cars knows that options are vast. And while it would have been relatively straightforward to rebuild the original 3.0-liter for more performance, Lind couldn’t resist that old hot rod adage, there’s no replacement for displacement. The solution came by way of a larger displacement but still air-cooled 3.6-liter engine that was sourced from a 1991 964-generation 911. The engine’s seller had already tuned it to produce around 268 hp with the addition of a Steve Wong chip and Fabspeed headers.

Remember earlier when Lind said he was a serial hot rodder? It’s not surprising that the 3.6-liter wasn’t left stock for long. After putting some miles on it, the engine was handed over to John Holleran of Holleran’s Performance in Auburn, California. Holleran tore the engine down and then rebuilt it with a multitude of internal upgrades, some for reliability and some for added performance. And all of them trade secrets. The heads on the 3.6 have also been rebuilt with larger valves and extensive porting and polishing.

The original port injection on the engine has been ditched in favor of a programmable electronic fuel injection setup from Megasquirt. Fuel and air are now delivered through 46 mm (1.8 in.) ITBs (Individual Throttle Bodies) from PMO. The stock SC fuel pump was retained, and an Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator ensures a consistent fuel supply. Erik also eliminated the stock 964 distributor and replaced it with a custom coil-on-plug ignition that uses Toyota Smart Coils. “It’s super simple, cheap and has great ignition energy,” he says of the Toyota ignition.

When the engine was first put back in the 911, the exhaust consisted of a Dansk Sport muffler and Bursch tubular headers. “After several iterations, we determined that the standard banana-style mufflers everyone is running won’t support a bigger bore, higher flowing engine,” says Lind. Hoover Chan of TurboHoses R&D crunched some airflow numbers and then started developing a better exhaust solution for these larger displacement Porsche flat-sixes.

Photo: Captain Kaos 4

“The Dansk Sport and big Bursch headers sounded great,” says Lind. “But when we unbolted the muffler, the engine picked up 30+ peak horsepower and more in some areas of the power curve.” The result of the ensuing research and development led to the creation of what Lind calls the Barry White exhaust, named, of course, for the singer with the deep and soulful voice. “We were able to achieve open header power,” he says. The exhaust also incorporates a vacuum-actuated valve that closes off one pipe on the dual outlet muffler, forcing the exhaust back through a crossover pipe and out one side of the exhaust. The result is a reduction in exhaust noise at cruising speeds. “It works great and doesn’t sap any power since it’s wide open when you’re in the throttle.”

All of this hard work and diligent R&D has resulted in a far more powerful and responsive 3.6-liter engine. On a chassis dyno the engine kicked out 313 hp to the wheels and an equally impressive 265 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers compare quite favorably to the 247 horsepower and 228 lb-ft of torque that a 1991 964 3.6-liter puts out at the crank.

Externally, the 911 hews to its ’70s roots with the addition of front and rear fiberglass IROC bumpers and a ducktail in place of the steel engine lid. Minimalist Vitaloni Sebring mirrors are perched on the end of stock 911 bases. Further setting the 911 apart are customized 911R-style taillights fitted with brighter LED bulbs, the latter of which have also been fitted to the headlights and side markers.

The reflector panel has been replaced with an aluminum panel with mesh-trimmed holes from Rockabilly Jay at Porsche Punx. Additional weight was shed by swapping the stock rear glass window with a lighter Lexan unit. Lind also deleted the sunroof. “I used a sunroof delete panel from Fenn Lane Motorsport in England and we bonded it in with 3M PanelBond,” he explains. “My painter then resprayed the roof.”

Film buffs might have made the connection between the “CPT KAOS” license plate and a famous car movie. “At the beginning of Cannonball Run, J.J. (Burt Reynolds’ character) takes out a brown 935 and proceeds to wreck it,” says Lind. “Captain Chaos, played by Dom DeLuise, is introduced at this point. One of my English, car nerd buddies mentioned that I was driving ‘the Captain Chaos Mobile’ and it took off from there.”

Photo: Captain Kaos 5

Lind happily tossed me the keys without a second thought so I could familiarize myself with this distinctly colored and extensively modified 911. When I climb inside for a drive, I find an interior that is just as customized as the other aspects of it. The aesthetics also mirror the brown and gold theme of the exterior. The seats are grippy Recaro Pole Position buckets that have chopped headrests for a more vintage look. The seats have also been re-covered in brown leather and black diamond-stitched leather centers. Another change are the 1973 911 RS-style door panels, which have been re-trimmed and modified with custom door pockets. The lightweight theme continues with deleted dome lights, sun visors, and rear seat delete. In an effort to further lighten the car the factory sound deadening and carpeting was ripped out and replaced with a lightweight carpet kit.

The steering wheel in front of me is an extremely rare, NOS (New Old Stock) Victor Interspeed unit. With its unusual squared-off top spoke, the wheel is a refreshing change from MOMO Prototipos that have become commonplace on vintage 911 builds.

“There’s a guy in the Netherlands who collects rare wheels,” explains Lind. “He found three Victors, two larger black ones, and one “N” small one with the bronze center. They were new, in-the-box, but 30-40 years old.” In a nice coincidence, when he received the wheel, it turned out that its color was a chestnut brown that perfectly complimented the aesthetic vibe of the rest of the car.

Just past the steering wheel is a brown-faced tachometer emblazoned with “Captain Kaos” and Lind’s R Gruppe membership number. A gold-painted roll bar and Schroth harnesses add a dose of safety to the proceedings.

A twist of the ignition key lights up the tuned 3.6-liter. At idle, the engine rumbles with a deep, air-cooled sound that- at low rpms at least, is almost low-key. Give it some revs, though, and it responds instantly, the tech needle spinning freely around the dial. First impressions are that this 3.6-liter feels more like a race-prepped, smaller displacement 911 engine. The shifter itself is a Rebel Racing Rennshift setup, which has been relocated back and up by about 4.0-inches.

Photo: Captain Kaos 6

“You have to cut up and modify the shift shaft, do some other fab work, relocate the seat belt receptacles, and do some custom work to make the e-brake work,” notes Lind. “It puts the shifter in perfect placement just to the side of the steering wheel and eliminates having to reach for third and fifth.” The shifter is topped by a handmade, 917-style balsa wood shift knob sourced from Manuel Campuzano in Mexico City.

Depressing the heavy clutch, I slot the rebuilt 915 five-speed into first gear. It’s almost immediately apparent that Lind has managed to create a driving experience in his old SC that is hugely addictive. The engine lives for revs, rocketing up through the powerband with seemingly endless enthusiasm. At higher rpms the exhaust note transforms into a hard-edged metallic howl that in some ways sounds more like a high strung, water-cooled 911 Cup car than an old-school air-cooled powerplant. And thanks to the diet that the car has been put on, it’s extremely quick, happily reeling in the Northern Californian horizon as I run it up through the gears. The conversion to individual throttle bodies and electronic fuel injection has thoroughly improved throttle response. The Holleran-built engine picks up revs instantly with a blip of the throttle.

Snapping off gear changes through the 915 five-speed is effortless thanks to the Rebel Racing shifter that shortens and considerably tightens up throws between gears. And like Lind points out, the shifter’s location is just a short drop from the wheel. Though this 911 was built primarily for canyon dicing with like-minded R Gruppe drivers, the way it responds to driver input feels more like a race car. Despite the 911’s extreme nature, he routinely puts on 500 to 1,200 miles on backroad drives around NorCal, with sessions at local tracks thrown into the mix.

Thanks to the lack of weight and stiffened up suspension, body roll is pretty much banished. Meanwhile, the steering has that trademark 911 feedback as I guide the car through a series of corners. Lind also installed a Wavetrac limited-slip differential that helps put all that added power to the ground.

Despite the generous amount of horsepower and torque that the 3.6-liter puts out, it’s never intimidating to drive, just flat out fun. While he may have set out to park an unusually colored 911 in his garage, Lind has ended up with a finely honed impact bumper 911 that more than lives up to the vanity plate bolted to the back end.

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