There is nothing I despise more than concessions to comfort in a sports car. Sports car buyers in 2020 are too soft and need too many amenities that have bloated all of our favorite sports cars to huge and heavy proportions. I bought this 1976 Porsche 912E as a daily driver four years ago because I wanted bare bones. I didn’t sign up for tacked on weights meant to dampen vibrations. I want to feel the vibrations, dammit! That’s why I chucked this piece of steel into the trash.
Back in 1976 Porsche’s deal with Volkswagen to build the 914 sports car had come to an end, and the upcoming 924 wouldn’t be ready for at least a few months. The folks in the German boardroom wanted a lower priced car for the American market to keep dealerships in product until the 924 arrived. “Put a four-cylinder in the 911, those stupid Americans will buy it.” And we did. 2099 of these cars were sold in 1976.
My car has been in a state of disassembly for almost two months as I decided to completely rebuild the suspension while we’re still in coronavirus quarantine. One thing that has always rubbed me the wrong way is that my Porsche was never equipped with a rear sway bar, despite the mounts being installed in the chassis and the trailing arms. So, I ordered a used 18mm 911 rear bar from eBay for a hundred bucks. Add another hundred or so for all of the bushings, clamps, drop links, and hardware and we’re in business. Sort of.
Because the Volkswagen-sourced Type 4 aircooled four cylinder isn’t quite as refined as Porsche’s internally-balanced flat-six engine, the geniuses in Stuttgart figured that they could tack on a dozen extra pounds to the transmission crossmember to keep those vibrations from reaching its delicate customers. Volkswagen stuffed this engine into everything from family wagons to the venerable Bus, and never saw fit to add any kind of vibration reduction weight. It’s a sports car, dammit. Let it be a little raw.
Porsche chose to add this weight at the lowest point of the drivetrain, the underside of the transmission crossmemeber. Of course, that meant it occupied the same space that the 911’s rear sway bar wanted to occupy. To solve this issue, 912Es optioned with rear sway bars were equipped with a special sway bar with a kink in it to clear the weight. The part isn’t even listed in Porsche’s parts catalog from the era, and was probably installed at the dealer when the car was delivered, so finding one is about as close to impossible as it can get.
So, if you want to fit a rear sway bar to a 912E, you have to use the straight 911 bar and ditch the weight. Because the weight also acts as a really big washer for the underside of the transmission mount, I’ll need to source shorter studs and new nuts and washers. I’ll head to the hardware store in the morning to grab that stuff.
I can’t wait to get this car back out on the road so I can feel the vibrations. I’m sure I won’t notice a performance advantage with this 12 pounds missing, but the sway bar should certainly make the car a bit better through the twisty stuff. And anyway, in a car that runs the 0-60 sprint in 12 seconds, every little bit helps.