Serenity - Porsche 911 3.2 Carrera

neilschelly's picture

1988 Porsche Carrera 3.2

This car has been sold.

This was a daily-driven 1988 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 with ~218k miles on the odometer. I have driven the car about 70k miles in the almost 5 years I've owned it. I have spent that time repairing many of the components of the car that were neglected over the years. When I got the car, none of the power windows or sunroof worked, the locks sometimes worked, and none of the HVAC worked. The stereo didn’t work, the power seats didn’t work, and many lights didn’t work. I fixed all of that, upgraded the stereo a bit to modern standards, and repaired several of the mechanical bits along the way.

Mechanically, the car is very sound, and it has rarely left me stuck. I just finished a ~1300 mile road trip to Hershey, PA (for the Porsche swap meet), State College, PA (to visit some family), Baltimore, MD (for a conference), and Washington, DC (to visit more family) with no issues. The front trunk and backseat were packed, the kiddo was in the back, and my wife was also along for most of the ride. The car was very full, and I wouldn't hesitate to depend on the car for another road trip. Even the AC blew cold when needed.


This is a car I have loved (and still love) owning. I have autocrossed it a few times, though I haven’t been a serious autocrosser in years. I have ice raced it too. I highly recommend it. I have driven it year round in the northeast, through snow and ice and rain and everything. I have road-tripped in the car thousands of miles, carried home Christmas trees on the roof, and made runs to the dump. Until the last few weeks, there’s a child seat in the back for my 15-month old daughter who has been a regular passenger since she was born. People stop to ask me about it all the time. Other Porsche owners wave at me as I drive by. Owning this car has been a wonderful experience, and this will not be my last Porsche.


Here’s a full album of pictures to look at.

Why I’m Selling

The fundamental reason I am looking to sell the car is the rust I see bubbling around the passenger door. While it doesn’t look bad, I know it will only get worse if I just keep driving the car. I don’t have any interest in taking the car off the road for months or more while I do a restoration that I am ill-prepared to complete. I also don’t want to watch the car waste away while I continue to drive it ignoring the problem.

The Details

This whole posting includes lots more information than a typical listing. Some of it is real problems with the car I eventually meant to address. Some of the problems are really nit-picky and only I would care about. I list all of it in the interests of full disclosure. The buyer of this car gets a wonderful car, a very rewarding ownership experience, an investment in the ever-increasing values of air-cooled Porsches, a project for a resto-mod, etc, and I want that person to know everything I have learned about this car.

Interesting History

  • I have a title for this car in hand.
  • I do have a Porsche Certificate of Authenticity for this car, which details exactly how the car was optioned from the factory. The engine and transmission numbers match the CoA.
  • I have the Carfax history to show it was a California car until 2009 when it came to New Hampshire. I bought it in October 2011 and have all the records since then.
  • The Carfax also shows that it was totalled and issued a rebuilt title in 1996. It was repaired to look like a 964 with fiberglass bumpers, C2 side skirts, and 964 side mirrors. It was then registered as a rental vehicle.
  • Part of the salvage repair included replacing the odometer, so the Carfax does report mileage discrepancy. There are at least 13k miles lost between two readings on the odometer, but it’s unclear exactly how much is lost. The actual mileage of the car is probably between 230k and 240k.
  • I have daily driven the car since October 2011 and put on about 70k miles in that time. Depending on how you read the Carfax, I am the 6th or 7th owner of the vehicle. I have all the maintenance records for the car since I purchased it.

Damage, Salvage, Rebuild Details

  • I believe that the car was t-boned on the passenger side, due to the damage that I’ve inventoried.
  • There are slight creases to the bodywork on that side, and a slight crease to the passenger A-pillar visible from the inside.
  • There is ugly bodywork hidden in the passenger door jam.
  • The passenger door has been replaced, and the new one doesn’t fit quite right. The bolts that hold the lower hinge on don’t appear to offer enough play to correct this position the way they should. This means the passenger door is tougher to open and close than it should be.
  • The passenger side dashboard doesn’t fit quite right.
  • The passenger side vents are not in great shape. I had to 3D print one piece of it that I was unable to source. The footwell heater blower was missing entirely, but I've replaced it.
  • There is bondo used in many places.
  • There is rust bubbling around the passenger side door latch area.
  • The passenger front fender, hood, bumpers, and side mirrors have been replaced. The side mirrors and bumpers look like a 964 Carrera 2.
  • Parts of the oil cooler in front of the right front wheel are missing. The cooler is there and plumbed, but it is missing the fan and the electronics to control it. Despite this, I have never had issues overheating. I would caution anyone looking to track the car on a hot day to fix this first.
  • There are drain holes in the roof to allow water to reach the ground from the sunroof channels. The front two are plugged, though I have never seen any leaks caused by this. The rear two are fine.

The Good

  • The stereo is a modern (couple years old) Sony DSX-S310BTX media player with Bluetooth connectivity, supporting Pandora control (via Bluetooth on an Android phone or via USB on an iPhone), MP3, AM/FM, etc. The speakerphone call quality is really good, even with the sunroof open on the highway. The rear speakers are modern Infiniti Kappas. The front speakers were once nice Polk Audio speakers (~20 years old) that were over-driven with an amp (now removed). One has a hole punched in it by an errant screwdriver. They are functional, but just have never been a priority to replace.
  • The starter was replaced with a much stronger one that is smaller and requires less power to run in February 2015 around 203k. The new starter is a gear-reduction starter from IMI Performance.
  • The battery was new in the winter of 2014-2015 around 200k.
  • The front torsion bars were upgraded to the smallest diameter Sway-a-Way aftermarket ones (21mm) when a stock one snapped. Stock replacements (19mm) were way too expensive. This was in March 2013 at around 175k miles.
  • All the struts and shocks were replaced with Bilstein Sports in the winter of 2012-2013 around 170k miles.
  • Summer wheels: 9” and 7.5” Porsche Twists (I think from a 1996 993 Carrera S) with 255/40R17 tires on the rear and 225/45R17 tires on the front.
    • The wheels are in really really clean shape, with only a tiny bit of curbing
    • The front tires (Dunlop Direzza DZ102) are brand new with only two thousand or so miles on them. The rears (Kumho Ecsta XS) are probably on their last season. They are on the first wear bars now, so some state inspections may fault them.
    • These are mounted with an Orange Electronics TPMS system that can display real-time temperature and pressure from each wheel.
  • Winter wheels: 5.5” and 4.5” steel wheels from ~1967 Porsche 912s, with 205/65R15 tires on the rear and 195/65R15 tires on the front.
    • The wheels are powdercoated a deep blue color.
    • The tires are Nokian Hakkapellitta 8 studded snow tires. These tires have two seasons on them, and should last another 1-2 seasons.
  • The steering wheel is a Momo Monte Carlo.
  • The windshield is brand new as of the Summer of 2015, replaced around 207k miles. It has the integrated antenna for the radio.
  • The clutch was replaced with a new spring-centered unit in November 2011 at 150k miles.
  • The AC compressor and all AC hoses are brand new as of the Spring of 2015, The hoses are barrier hoses designed for modern HFC-134a refrigerant. The system isn’t the coldest ever, but it works. I can give pointers to good upgrade paths.
  • The factory Dilivar head studs were replaced with all steel head studs after one cracked in the Fall of 2015 at 209k miles. No engine damage was done, as it was only one stud. The break was discovered while I was doing a routine valve adjustment service. This ~$3500 engine-out service also fixed many oil leaks, like oil return tubes, the leaky seals/rings around the thermostat, the whole engine gasket set, and replaced all the existing steel and dilavar head studs with new steel ones for good measure.
  • Lots of the floor and rear deck were covered with Dynamat and Dynaliner for quieting road noise. The disintegrated factory firewall engine sound mat was replaced with a shiny foil one made of modern materials for better visibility in the engine compartment and better sound/heat damping.
  • New Clewett Engineering ignition wires were installed in the Winter of 2014-2015 around 205k miles.
  • There’s a working Clifford Arrow 3 alarm system with an ignition immobilizer, shock sensor on the steering column, a remote, and the programming software.
  • The power windows, sunroof, and locks work. The driver’s window has been upgraded to single-touch operation. The central locking “switch” inside the driver’s door lock cylinder doesn’t work to unlock both doors, but I never use that since the alarm adds keyless entry.
  • To keep them from ripping apart the doors as they commonly do, the door hinge stays have both been strengthened with these kits. The driver’s one was already tearing and has been welded into place.
  • Front wheel bearings were replaced in Fall 2013 around 185k miles.
  • Axles replaced in July 2014 at 197k.
  • Aside from the clock (which never works in the cold in these cars), all the gauges work. During the summer, the clock works fine too.
  • I recently replaced all the throttle linkage points and bushings and rebuilt the pedal cluster. It was starting to bind in places, and this caused an occasionally sticky throttle. This was around 195k miles.
  • I replaced all the fuel lines on top of the engine and around the intake manifold, known for leaking as the rubber ages and causing a fire risk. This was done around 200k miles.
  • The cruddy looking rubber parking brake boot is upgraded to a leather one.
  • The stock (wooden and rotted) passenger and driver floorboards have been replaced with ABS plastic ones.
  • A headlight relay kit was installed to keep the full current of the headlights from going through the dash switch.
  • The suspension is lowered to around European spec height. The steering rack spacers that prevent bump steer on lowered cars were installed.
  • The brakes and pads were all replaced in the Summer of 2012 around 165k miles with Zimmerman cross-drilled rotors and Carbotech AX6 pads. I wouldn’t recommend these pads again (too dusty, too noisy, not enough bite). I replaced the front pads again due to a problem with a stuck caliper in the maintenance below. These pads (and most) don’t have the cut-out for the brake pad wear sensors, so I permanently looped the wear sensors so they would not light up the dash warning.
  • I rebuilt all 4 calipers, replaced all 4 corners’ hard brake lines (flexible line to caliper), and replaced all 4 corners’ flexible brake lines (connect flexible lines to hard lines on body) in the spring of 2016, around 215k miles. Next time brake work is attempted here, I would strongly recommend replacing at least the rear calipers because I am not thrilled with how well they cleaned up. All four were not worth the trouble to rebuild in retrospect, in my opinion. While doing this, the front calipers were reloaded with Hawk HP+ pads.

The Bad

  • I replaced the 3rd brake light with one that isn’t at the top of the rear windshield. It needs to be better installed, or replaced with something classier. I 3D printed the one that's there, but it needs its design tweked. I needed the top of the rear windshield clear so I could see behind me better. The stock one was in my way.
  • The rear windshield probably leaks, and it should probably have its seal replaced. The frame pieces that fit inside the seal are also in bad shape and should be replaced.
  • The front windshield seal hasn’t sealed as well as it should in the top of the passenger side. It should be re-seated and that’s not too difficult a project. A new seal (
  • The passenger floor has a leak, and I use beach towels to absorb the moisture after rainy days, swapping them out when they get wet. The passenger door doesn’t line up perfectly, so it is likely the source for the leak.
  • There is rust at the base of each A-pillar and around the passenger door latch. It’s not too bad yet, but that’s a growing concern for me.
  • There was some rust at the base of the windshield that I recently repaired. It’s a functional repair, but not a pretty repair.
  • There are countless dents and dings all over the car. The side mirrors and hood came from a red car and the original paint shows through in places.
  • The replacement side mirrors are from a 964, but were never wired, so they are not heated and are not power-adjustable. The wiring is there, but would need to be mapped out between the 911 and 964 diagrams to find the right connections. I can only assume the motors and heaters in the mirrors would be functional if they were connected.
  • The trunk switch is damaged so I installed a manual switch for the trunk light instead.
  • I have occasionally had problems where the driver’s or passenger’s window will go down and won’t come up again until I open and close the driver’s door. I haven’t had a chance yet to find whatever wire must be loose yet. The passenger door window switch always works.
  • There’s a grommet between the body of the car and the driver’s door that is unseated from its position. I’ve not been back into it to repair it for some time, but it’s a very difficult spot to reach without removing the door. It’s possible that that is the explanation for the power window problems above.
  • The clock doesn’t work in the cold (any time it’s less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit). As far as I can tell, that’s just normal for these cars.
  • I’ve never been thrilled by the bumper modifications that were made to accommodate the fiberglass bumpers. That’s why I have a spare rear bumper. I have little confidence that the the new bumper beams that were constructed inside the fiberglass are really all that safe, even by 1988 standards.
  • The headlight washer nozzles and the hoses to feed them and the motor to feed them are all gone. They were never installed to the new bodywork.
  • There’s a bouncy idle sometimes, more so on cold days. I have checked all the obvious places for a vacuum leaks, and I’ve been unable to find it. I made the idle go away a year ago by cleaning the idle control valve out, and I think it tends to get some gunk in it from the recirculation system. I adjusted the idle a little higher (about 1100rpm instead of 950rpm) to keep the car from stalling out on cold mornings due to this problem.
  • The passenger door open switch could use replacement. It doesn’t always light up the interior lights when open, but shaking it or hitting the switch usually wakes it up.
  • The windshield washer tank utilizes redundant zip ties to stay attached. This doesn’t cause any problems, but does bother me. The factory attachment point is damaged.
  • I have only one key. A second key and second remote are somewhere in my house, but I cannot find them. If that changes, I'll send it to the new owner.

Spare Parts

  • I have a spare set of black 8-way power seats that were originally red and have been dyed black. The stock red 4-way power seats are in the car, with power height adjustment front and rear, and manual levers for sliders and seat back angle. The 8-way power seats lend a bit more flexibility to positioning the front seat with a child seat behind it, but I don’t otherwise like them as much. All the seats have visible wear.
  • There’s a brand new passenger window regulator frame in a box. I repaired the existing frame several times until finally one of the wheels gave way to age and the plastic snapped. I re-assembled it as best I could at the time and bought this replacement, and now that window has been functional (albeit slow) for a few years. I intended to replace the whole mechanism as soon as it broke next time.
  • The car came to me with a tachometer from a 930 Turbo that needs service. I “downgraded” to a stock type gauge when it began to be unreliable. The 930 gauge is probably repairable, and it’s worth some money in good shape.
  • Stock rear bumper. I always intended to find enough parts to switch back to stock here.
  • Stock rear lights. I will try to install these soon since the center reflector is broken and houses the reverse lights in the 964-style setup that’s there now. These need to be re-wired, but otherwise have brand new lenses and LED bulbs.
  • I have a stock rear center reflector, to replace the broken 964-style one there now.
  • I have replacement used heater fans for the footwell blowers. The ones in the car work, but they make a lot of noise when they are cold starting up. I’ve intended to replace them for awhile.
  • I have the two axles that were recently replaced at 197k, and I have boot kits to service them back to health.
  • I have replacement felts and liners for around the driver’s side window tracks to help give it a smoother motion and better seal. I haven’t had to rebuild that mechanism in a long time, but bought these parts so that I could replace them next time I needed to open the door.
  • There’s a spare fuel pump relay in the glove box since they are a common failure item. I kept seeing the same typical failures until I resoldered the relays myself. I have not had a failure since.
  • I have a spare passenger side seat belt. It was the original one, replaced for mostly cosmetic reasons.
  • I have two of the panels that serve as the interior cover for the sunroof. They are lined with leather that is no longer in good shape. I meant to recover one so that I could replace it with a cover that wouldn’t constantly get stuck, but I never got around to it. I have material enough to recover both, and neither is in the car now.
  • I have a replacement JWest shifter bushing kit for the car that I just haven’t installed yet. It’s not too loose, but I really wanted to give it a nice cleaning. I cannot find this kit, but will include it if I find it.