A Moccaschwarz Porsche 924 rekindles the flame
Monday, March 12, 2018
It was smoldering.
The fire that raged for 924s was reduced to an ember. This happens with nearly everything I obsess about…except for my woman.
It’s possible that knowing everything about a particular subject leaves nothing to the imagination. This becomes a problem because the next step in an obsession is possession, and that can be ruined psychologically. When all is revealed, the fascination dissolves.
A 1980 Porsche 924 dressed in Moccaschwarz was the puff that ember begged for.
Nearly two years ago, an enthusiast named Klaus emailed regarding an article I’d written. He closed it by mentioning his 924 because he knew by reading my bio that I had a thing for these baby Porsches and wanted to help complete my Porsche transaxle collection.
There wasn’t a specific 924 I wanted. Color combination, aspiration, nor model mattered in the least. Like plucking a dog from the shelter, the gut would make the selection without letting the brain get in the way.
Klaus had sent a teaser of a shot.
His 924 caught in dusk’s afterglow back-dropped by some weeds and an old industrial building with rusted steel paneling and punched out windows. An air conditioning unit hung out of one as if wanting to get a closer look at the Moccaschwarz wedge.
Who could blame it?
The thing looked as if it had a pampered life — a rarity concerning the 924 series. When a 38-year-old car looks this good, in an honest and unadulterated state, it’s hard not to conjure fantasies of the life it had and what sort of person owned it. Save for a few details, I almost nailed it.
A 78-year-old retired Delta airline pilot living in Charlotte, North Carolina, the original owner also drove a 911SC. Klaus reckons he bought the car for the Missus. She didn’t care for driving a stick, so the 924 bunked in the garage, possibly climate-controlled, alongside the more active SC. Aside from a handful of oil and filter changes, timing belt jobs, tires, and a fuel pump, not much else required a visit to the shop.
I’d bet the seat springs are barely worn in.
A few days after Valentine’s in 2014, Klaus became the second owner driving off with a bloated manila folder of invoices. The 924 rolled away with 40,272 miles.
Taking no chances with a car leading a rather sedentary life, Klaus swapped in a fresh timing belt and tensioner. While the belt had all of 5,000 miles, it was nearly a decade old. He’d also adjusted the front wheel bearings and replaced the rear ones, spun on new tie rod ends, replaced the oil pan gasket, spark plugs, brake pads, camshaft seals, and accessory drive belts to name a few things.
Porsche calls the 924’s color A2A2 Moccaschwarz, but it’s brown to most. And despite it being properly paired with an LV-coded beige interior, some just can’t do a "sell-proof" brown Porsche.
That’s a pity, because this color suits the 924’s Twiggy-esque physique. The warm tone highlights some of the body’s subtle curves and angles, particularly at dusk. Porsche designs such as this have withstood automotive design fads; precisely the reason why they’ll forever remain the equivalent of a navy blue double-breasted suit — timeless.
When it first appeared in 1976, old-guard Porschistas weren’t the only ones appalled by it. The press was unkind denouncing not only the looks, buzzy engine, and rough ride, but also its Audi/VAG pedigree questioning whether or not it deserved to be called a Porsche at all.
But by 1980, the 924 has gone through subtle refinements that Porsche are wont to do with every model. Journalists picked up on its evolution. One periodical, CAR magazine (UK), pointed out in a test against the Mazda RX-7 and Alfa GTV-6 in saying:
"There’s also the question of class and breeding – snob appeal, if you like – which, despite the 924’s VW-Audi origins, the Porsche (924) undoubtedly has in greater measure than the Mazda which has neither the heritage nor the competition history of its German rival. No other sports car manufacturer of modern times has."
From an American perspective, Car and Driver, remarked:
"The harsh ride disappeared and became tenacious roadholding. The engine became efficient instead of merely noisy. It seemed as if the bone-jarring nature of the Porsche at low speeds would have to be forgiven. Evidently, its unmannerly deportment was a simple impatient response to being held on a 55-mph leash."
The press, as it seems, began appreciating Porsche’s efforts.
This particular 924, aside from refinements under the skin, factory air-conditioning, and Audi 5-speed gearbox, has an option that makes it very desirable — M471. Dubbed "Equipment Group 1, Sporting" by Porsche, it has the 924 Turbo’s suspension, which includes fully ventilated brake discs (front and rear), 5-bolt cast spoke 15" wheels, front and rear anti-roll bars, Koni shock absorbers, 3-spoke sport leather steering wheel (380 mm), and rear spoiler.
But it’s the simplicity of this engine that makes the 924 attractive to me. This robust 1,984 cc (2.0 liter), 8-valve VW EA831 4-cylinder which, save for compression ratios, has remained unchanged for the U.S. market from 1977-1982. It has none of the associated complications of the balance shafts and 16-valves I have with the 944S and 968. It’s also a non-interference engine, so in the unlikely event of a timing belt failure, the pistons won’t crumple the valves.
Klaus’ 924 reignited my lust for the series. As much as I love the 928, 944S, 968, and 993 in the garage, none of them offer the simplicity that I’ve found with the 356 and 914 like the 924. And unlike so many others that I’ve looked at, this one is very well-preserved. Coming across a low-mileage, well-cared-for example packed with the window sticker and a Certificate of Authenticity from Porsche is an uncommon occurrence.
Many 924s spun those five digits around two, maybe three times, but not this one.
It’s a seduction…all of it. Looking at the photographs is a temptation into irrationality foiled by pragmatism at every thought. The narrow hips, shoulders tucked tight, looking fabulous in that deep, dark skin. There’s an aesthetic elegance to the rear spoiler that makes the 944’s larger version look uncouth, excessive, despite it being aerodynamically vital.
Under the bonnet lies honesty. I can’t remember the last time I saw such brilliance in a rocker cover’s aluminum or a timing cover with a faint sheen of time on its black paint. Was it possible for an engine to be cradled between shock towers with paint looking as immaculate as the shell?
I saw myself slithering into that familiar driving position, slung low. The seats would no doubt feel taut. I run my hand over the tuft of carpet on the tunnel behind the shift console as if petting a wild beast.
Honesty under the bonnet.
With a lissome figure slung over the Turbo’s bones, the handling would be superb. A twist of the key, the chugging of four pistons, the eccentric tachometer blipping…there’d be no disappointments.
"This one…" I’d say, patting the dash.
"This little 924 was first."
The 944 and 968 were borne out of this — so familiar, so primitive…so ancestral. History had come full circle.
I’m flattered that Klaus thought of me a few years ago when the idea of selling was one he’d consider with some encouragement. But he’s serious now.
It’s me that needs the encouragement.
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