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Tom Amon rebuilds the most important engine in Porsche history, mine.



Well, after a little over 150,000 miles my 3.0 motor gave up? It seems something called a main bearing, the one that faces the transmission, is to blame. It was worn enough to let oil spill out by the handfuls. A little scary to see actually but I initially thought it was just a bad seal since the transmission had just been rebuilt a few days earlier. When Tom arrived to drop the engine and inspect the leak he was able to wiggle the end of the crank shaft quite a bit and that apparently gave the oil an easy escape route. Repairing something like this requires taking everything apart so I was faced with the biggest nightmare any old car owner can have besides "catastrophic" rust.


Typically the 3 liter engines have a reputation for being extremely reliable. Bruce Andersen, author and expert on all things Porsche says that most 3.0s will be rebuilt in pursuits of more horsepower, not because they actually need rebuilding? I know I was banking on getting another 50k out of my 3 liter which translates into years of life given the mileage I tend to put on it.


Two things may have contributed to my motors early demise. The first is that I'm not the original owner and I don't know what type of life my car led during it's first 80,000 miles over in the father land. I choose to believe it was used to run drugs, guns and money through the black forest for fun and profit. A Porsche mechanic did look it over for me before purchase but never did a compression test. Please don't chastise me, that was over fifteen years ago and today I'm a much more cautious buyer.



Ironically, the other thing that may have hurt my engine was, well, me? Me and my proximity to San Francisco and it's many steep hills that is. I have a bad habit of balancing the car on the hills by skillfully feathering the clutch. This allows me to leave the light without any dramatics or hesitation, I hate to make other drivers with automatic transmissions wait.



I always knew this was bad for the clutch but now I've learned that there is a possibility that this may also rob the main barring of lubrication. What can I say, had I known, I would have done things differently. By the way, I'm still not sure this was the cause of the problem so any other reasonable explanations would be welcome.



On a happier note, working with Tom is a real trip. He dismantled the engine at my house and left town with it in his truck? When this happens there is a little voice deep inside you that whispers, 'am I ever going to see this guy again? ' Of course you do, he calls to check in and let you know he is accumulating the parts and sending your old parts out to be machined. I told him I was fine with that and did he know that I had been in and out of prison most of my life for a series of violent offenses against people who had 'dissed' me in the past.



Despite this information or maybe because of it Tom did show up three weeks later, as promised, with everything and he rebuilt the engine at my house while I watched and asked questions. The rebuild went without a hitch, in fact he did mine in two days thanks to my constantly supplying him with coke. Coka Cola. Also, Tom lives in Campbell which is about an hour and a half south of my house so rather then drive back and forth he spent the night in the spare bedroom and we had beer and pizza and watched attractive women eat mouthfuls of grubs for money on Fear Factor. How many of you can say you have this type of deep relationship with your mechanic?







Watching Tom work is like watching anyone who is very good at their job, it's a pleasure. As he assembles the engine he coats all the parts that touch with a combination of oil, Teflon and secret sauce to keep all parts lubricated for the few minutes it will take the oil to get there after start up. His working style is nothing like mine. He doesn't talk to himself, he doesn't curse, he doesn't loose patience. He can carry on a casual conversation while he works and he appears to be relaxed and happy while he spreads the innards of my child all around the driveway. The funny thing about this process isn't that he's doing at my house, it's that I live in a small condominium complex.

For those of you lucky enough to live in an apartment or house a condo is a place where you must have window treatments that are white, avoid making noise, park only in your designated parking place and submit every bowl movement to the home owners association for approval. A condo is not really the best place to rebuild ones legendary boxer engine. Still, if your up front with people things usually go better. I put out chairs, snacks and cold drinks. My neighbors stopped by, looked around, met Tom, enjoyed a beverage and some sat for hours to watch him work. It's fun and educational rebuilding an engine, like watching a segment of this old house only with an automotive slant. Several even commented that they were sorry Tom wasn't going to be here all week? The guy became a local celebrity in two days?

Anyway, when the moment came to start the engine Tom firsts runs it without any spark to get the oil pressure up. You know what the slick 50 ads say, 'most engine wear happens at start up.' When Tom is satisfied that all parts are sufficiently coated in oil he starts the engine and here is the surprising part.

When Tom does start the engine it's as if a switch was flipped, the engine starts in a fraction of a second and runs at a perfect idle. Immediately. It's a little freakish, there is absolutely no cranking? No hacking, coughing, spitting, sputtering to life, surging or smoking. No spraying of fuel, no flames engulfed the customer. It's actually anticlimactic, just an instant purrrrrrrrrrrrrrr that never varies.

There is also little adjusting to do? Tom did check the timing but it was already correct. He does hook up a gas analyzer to the exhaust to see what those hydrocarbons are doing, but that too was fine. I now believe that Tom checked these things mainly for my benefit. After all, shouldn't the mechanic do something important during the first five minutes of engine life? He did watch the engine, rev it once in a while for effect but it was plainly apparent that this engine had never been happier. I remember thinking it may not have run this well the first time it started at the factory but then I've always had an active imagination. In any event, I'm smiling like a fool when Tom tells me it's time to go for a test drive.

Tom wanted to drive it to see if everything felt good and of course I wanted to go along for its maiden voyage. Did I mention that Tom owns his own race car and apparently knows how to drive it extremely well. Sitting in the passenger seat of a car that Tom is probing for imperfection is, well ...FUKN scarry. My hands searched for things I could hold on to to make myself feel safe like an arm rest or a small religious statue. I actually forgot all about the engine when Tom asked me if I'd like to see him make the back end come out a little. I think I whimpered no thank you and did my best version of ' isn't it getting late'?

When the car finally did slow down I felt like I now owned something a little nicer then before. For the record, it's really not a question of speed because I know there are much faster cars out there. I'd have to say it's more a matter of feel. Newer cars are more refined and that can be nice on a long trip but this car is a little less refined and the sound, vibration handling, braking and now better acceleration makes it more engaging, more fun.

Specifically, Tom rebuilt the 3.0 out to a modest short stroke 3.2 with J&E pistons, new cylinders, 964 cams and some lucky charms all topped with a big old fashioned dollop of attention to detail.

So the bad news was that I had to do a rebuild in the first place but the good news was that I got to watch it being done by someone who cares. My old sc is starting over now with 235hp being added to its 2,437 lbs, shorter ring and pinion, lightened flywheel, enlarged throttle body and SSIs.

I'm sure most people think I'm crazy to do this and I don't completely disagree. I also think it's crazy to buy a new car and watch it loose the same amount of value in just the first few years but hey, who am I to judge.


Sr. Mechanic, Porsche Repair Specialist

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