Finally this car is now on the road and at the time of writing some 800Km on the odometer.
So, what's it like to drive? Wel eh.. first of all its nothing like i expected. I have never driven a classic car before this one, not even other Porsches. What i heared about it is the usual stuff you find on the net, that this car is 'talehappy' when cornering, and that it is a 'modern' car for its day and age. I drive a modern car everyday, just like most people, so how much of a change could this be?
The first thing that comes to mind is how much of a handful this car is! When you drive it for an hour, especially on the motorways, you are definitely ready to take a break.
First of all the noise level is very high. A modern car does 120Km/h and you don't even notice the engine. This car has a very high pitched, metallic whine that makes you pay attention to the oil pressure... As it turned out, i made a mistake in the soundproofing, the damping material inside the engine compartment was glued in the wrong way around. After fixing that, another fault in the chain tensioners was fixed, which quieted it some more. Now that everything is working properly, it starts making sense somehow. Especially if you rev it up to 4000 RPM, it is an awesome sound. The carbs are actually more a contibutor to this than the exhaust, as well as the fact that it is air-cooled. Below 4000, its a lot less noisy, but nowhere near the sound levels of todays cars.
As for the steering: this car is like a puppy on a leash, spotting a ditch! It is very, very responsive, and seems to wants to jump off the road all the time. Must be a Geman Shepherd puppy then (bad joke, i know). Again after some investigation this turned out to be normal, the steering geometry is set up to be very neutral, which makes it sensitive to the roads. As for the tail-happy bit: no such thing! Without the power steering it takes some serious force to get this car to corner, and i have not even come close to those limits, i'm sure! At the time of writing, the engine is not fully run in yet, so i keep it at 4000, and only when it is hot (which takes an hour!), but you can have plenty of fun in that range.
The breaking is actually the only thing i would call 'modern' on this car. Which is a bit unexpected as it lacks power breaking, it is a single-cylinder 4-disc breaking. Still it breaks light, responsive and tracks absolutely straight. The force is easy to control, and when it starts locking up, it warns you well in advance, without ever blocking completely. The stopping distance is of course higher than an ABS equipped car but it never felt unsafe at any time.
All in all, this is a car for a sunday spin on the backroads, and lots of fun at that! At first the noise had me worried, but after some confidence-building i guess it is not going to explode, and it makes more fun every time i drive it!
As far as the building of this car, would i do it again? Hmmm. It was a huge project, and i had no prior experience when i started it, which made for a lot of lost time. All in all it took about 1700 hours over ten years, however that is a bit of a guess by now. During the restoration i learned a lot of things and as time passed it started making more fun. The last few years it became a bit of an obsession, especially when the end of the project came in sight. It is the perfect antidote to a 40-hours a week desk-job!
However, the most important realisation is that i would never have been able to do this by myself!! I was in the very lucky position that the car was stored at the workshop of Jan van der Heiden, who is a professional restorer specialising in MG and some more exotic stuff like Hispano. He has helped me a lot during this project, and i am sure that many hours of explaining and help never found their way into the bills, so a big thank you is appropriate!. But even with that help, having a life as well as a project, takes some management. There have been several years of dust-collecting in between (no, on the project).
A lot of people have asked me what they would need to finish such a car themselves, which is a difficult question. There will always be a lot of things you cannot do yourself, like painting, sandblasting, zinc coating, powder coating, welding. It would not make much sense to try and learn all that. So as for tools you don't need much. It is a bit like a model airplane kit, without the instructions, and half of the parts are broken, with the other half missing. Most of the time spent is finding out how to get all that stuff organised in such a way that you need to do it only once. Regularity is also important. Try to work on your project once a week, even if you just sweep the workshop or read some books.
As for the finances: don't worry too much about that. Every time you spend some money it buys you a few months of building, enough to save some more for the next step. In the end, your car will be worth about twice what you put into it, so it is a safe investment, if you buy the right car. That is, if you actually finish it! Selling it halfway makes it a total loss, as no-one will want it! Not that this is in any way relevant because once you finish it you will never ever sell it in your life! Just see it as a heritage for your kids, who probably will not be interest in a car that runs on smelly petroleum instead of solar power anyway :-)