Restoring a 1968 Porsche 911L


"There are exactly two types of early 911 owners - those with rust, and those whose owners haven't yet found the rust."

My buddy bought a 1968 Porsche 911L in November of 2002. It's a long story but the car sort of followed him around, taunting him. It seemed to be "calling" him, asking him to buy it. He toyed with it for over 5 years before he finally caved and purchased the car. Back then, we didn't know too much about early 911s. The original goal was just to paint it and drive it around. I don't know what was in the water (beer) that we were drinking but within a few months, the goal became - "restore it back to concours original condition" - and do it within 2 years. The first thing we did was spend 2 months getting the car running again. We drove it around for awhile and then decided it was time to start the project. On April 4, 2003 we drove the car to his house, put it up on blocks and stripped it to bare metal. With the help of our fathers, we were able to complete this monumental project in 3 years (almost to the day). Considering that most people do it in 15, I'd say we did pretty good. This is a page that we used to document the endevor.

One of the biggest hurdles and something that I did not even consider when I was asked to help, was the amount of research that was needed to complete a project of this magnitude. I spent countless, and I mean countless, hours researching everything I possibly could about these cars. The US 1968 911L's had quite an interesting history. 1968 was a year that Porsche refused to export the legendary 911S due to US smog laws. In it's place, they exported a standard 911, as the entry level model and a 911L as the "lexus" or luxury model replacement for the 911S . The car was essentially a 911S without the 911S 170+hp motor. Interestingly enough, the chassis numbers for US 911Ls are actually 911S chassis numbers. This is confirmed in Porsche documentation. And when looking specifically for 911L models you will find that the chassis numbers listed in most books are confusing. Porsche refers to the chassis numbers on "standard" 68' 911 models as "911L US" coupe and targa even though they are not "L" models. For the powerplant, the 911L was given a 130hp 2.0L flat-6 motor with Weber 40IDA carbs, EGR and smog pump (Delco, GM) that was run from a pulley on the left camshaft. The left chaincover was modified to allow for the smog pulley much the way the early solex fuel pumps were placed on the first 901s. It is unique in that it is the only 911 engine with this "feature". Of course, the joke back then used to be that the car ran better and passed the smog tests with the pump off! This is the biggest reason why most 68' models had their engines replaced or highly modified at some point in their lifetime. Mechanics just couldn't get the smog and EGR systems working well and so they would just throw up their hands and often install a later model motor that ran better or just comletely removed all the smog gear. Some interesting touches that make 68's unique are things like side marker lights at all 4 corners (this car had them removed). They were last minute installs mandated by US DOT regulations as the cars were imported to the US. 68's also had a very unique door panel design and interesting 2 piece dash that only existed for that year. The "elephant hide" embossed vinyl, offered on the 911L as an option, is another very rare feature as it was never offered on any other 911.

For us, it was most important that we did everything ourselves. We were willing to bend on some things that we didn't have the skills or facilities for, like the engine machinework, but other than that we did it all ourselves . That meant we spent a lot of money on tools, and learning. This meant ruining parts and having to buy them again, repainting things, recovering interior items, taking things apart multiple times, etc... For instance, after pricing the cost of zinc plating certain parts we ended up purchasing a home plating system and spending months learning how to get it to work. Eventually we beadblasted and re-plated every single bolt and nut on the car. If the part was suspect, it was replaced. Although we'd like to say no expense was spared, the reality is that we tried to limit the cash outlay just as anyone would. That was part of the reason we had to do ourselves. At some points in the project we really didn't think we were going to be able to do it. There were some bad times. But in the end we did all by ourselves and I think we did a superb job. During the process of restoring, I found myself starting to sort of handle the management part of the job. Getting others to take on project and get them done. As for specific tasks, Rick spent an ungodly amount of time taking the car apart, stripping every piece of metal clean, grinding and preping welds, preping new metal parts, assembling the suspension and rewiring the entire car from scratch! I took responsibility for the paint and bodywork which included the entire process from bare metal to finish coat. My father, Mel Rinehart, rebuilt and tuned the motor. Rick's father Jim, helped a bit in every area. The engine parts were inspected, checked and machined by Jay Robinson at Jay's Precision Machine in Santa Clara. The engine was fully rebuilt with all the modern modifications to make it reliable and long lasting. That included pressure fed chain tensioners and an engine oil pressure modification to the case. All new pistions supplied by JE Piston to 911 specs.

Our goal was to return the car completely to stock (smog pump, original elephant hide vinyl seats, dash and side marker lights) We saw all of these idiosyncrasies as part of Porsche's history. We also wanted to compaign the car in the local PCA concours circuit. I own a 1989 3.2 carrera that won PCA Zone 7 concours season trophy for 2002 so I have a bit of experience when it comes to doing concours. But with Full concours, the entire car is judged including the chassis and undercarriage. When we first started the project, most of the concours classes judged originallity as part of the judging process. That meant that cars that were truly untouched and original, did not do well. If the car had new paint, you were docked a point. If the interior had been restored, you were docked another. At the time, we decided that we didn't care and would take the "docked" points in favor of having an original car properly restored. By the time we finished the project, the rules had changed and originality was removed from the judging process(go figure). For the first time we could now compete with original and restored cars and everyone was on a level playing field.

The car took 1st place in full concours for the 2006 PCA concours season (1st place @ 6 shows).

Hope you enjoy the pages.

Ken- 6/06
Here is the car before the project began. We got the motor running and Rick drove it around for a week before we started the restore. Another shot from the rear. Light Ivory exterior with Red interior vinyl. Great color combo. Here we are the day after we got it home. Of course it decided to rain all day.

Getting the car
The Issues
The Engine

The Restore

Progress in April
Progress in May
Progress in May (Part-2)
Progress in June
Progress in June (Part-2)
Progress in July
Progress in Aug
Progress in Sept
Progress in Oct
Progress in Oct (Part-2)
Progress Dec 03 to Jan 04
Progress Feb - March 04
Progress in March 04
Progress April 04
Progress May - June 04


Progress during July 04
Progress during Sept / Oct 04
Progress during Nov 04 / Mar 05
Progress during Oct 05 - Paint
Progress during Nov 05 - Assembly
Progress during Dec 05 - Assembly
Progress during Jan 06 - Interior / Engine
Progress during Feb 06 - Interior / Engine
Progress during Mar 06 - Interior / Body
Progress during Mar - Apr 06 - Interior / Body
Progress during May 06 - Interior / Body
Progress during May - June 06 - Engine
Last week of assembly June 06

Finished Product

Finished car, June 2006

Ken Rinehart, Nov, 03