Shock and Awe – or Love at First Sight
Shock and Awe
– or Love at First Sight
Written by Bruce Sweetman
Photos by Bruce Sweetman
There seems to be a consensus in the Porsche community that 356s and early 911s should be afforded a certain amount of respect in terms of presentation. So what do you make of an olive 1973 911S with neon-red cookie cutter wheels and a faux leopard skin-trimmed interior? Owner Jay Gould’s 911S repels as many enthusiasts as it attracts, and he’s okay with that. Jay is thrilled to own a Porsche that weaved its way into his life over several decades. He plans to return the 911S to stock eventually and, in the meantime, he’s going to have a little fun with it.
Having fun with cars was part of Jay’s upbringing. “I have memories of riding on the beach in dune buggies and Bugs and stuff like that,” he says. “I remember my mom pulling the handbrake in snow-covered church parking lots, spinnin’ around.” And he was one of those kids who was interested in how things worked. “My mom says I was taking everything apart in the house.”
Jay got his first Porsche, a 1987 924S, before he turned twenty. “At first it was awesome—chrome wheels and red paint,” he says. Then after a year or two I realized that it had been sprayed—Earl Scheib or something. Every year after that the paint was curling up at the edges and then it was just like—done.” Still, he loved it. “It was my auto-crosser, racer. I ran that thing so hard for years.
“In 1998 me and a friend were rolling around downtown Nashville in the 924S,” says Jay. “We stumbled on this dyno shop called Performance Garage and I was like, ‘I’m not leaving until you give me a job.’” Which they did.
Two years later, Jay’s boss at Performance Garage, recommended Jay for a position as a shop up the street called Music City P&A [Porsche Audi] and Jay was hired on. P&A had an air-cooled Porsche specialist named Dave Glick but Jay’s 924 experience came in handy. “And I learned lots and lots about 944s,” he says. Jay’s tenure at Music City P&A lasted 16 years.
A certain olive 1973 911S showed up for service every so often. “Usually, a car like that, Dave worked on it. It would come in and I would just drool over it,” says Jay. “A lot of it was due to the paint color. What a weird decision to even make available,” he says. “But, you know, lots of people had shag carpet and some sort of olive-tone washer and dryer, and stove.” He crinkles his nose, “Like—gross. Why is the fridge this grody green color?”
This wasn’t the first time the olive 911S had caught Jay’s eye. “I remember seeing that car driving around Madison [near Nashville] when I was a kid,” he says, “at Kroger or along Gallatin Pike.” The owner, whom he later found out was named Art Salvador, was memorable as well. “Dark-skinned—kind of a short, big dude. I think he’s some sort of islander,” says Jay.
In 2016 the owner of Music City P&A closed the shop and liquidated its assets. “I was upset that I didn’t have an opportunity to buy it,” says Jay. “And I wish I could have bought more stuff from that place.” But Jay left with something more valuable than tools and parts. He acquired P&A’s phone number, which he took with him to his next job at German Performance Options in southeast Nashville.
“A lot of the old customers would call P&A to make an appointment, so we [GPO] were getting that business,” says Jay. One day Art Salvador called in and made an appointment for his Boxster. “I did a clutch on it,” says Jay. “Then he brought in a 914. I got it all running good. He’s coming in to pick it up and he says, ‘Jay, I need to bring in my 911’. I was like, ‘Dude, I can’t believe you still have that thing.”
In August of 2016 Salvador brought the 911S into the shop. “I got it running, took it around the block, and the CDI [ignition] box died,” says Jay. “So I started making estimates on everything that it needed. He’s the type of guy that just shows up, and when he stopped by I said, ‘Dude you just need to sell me this car. I loved it the first time I saw it.’ And he was like, ‘Yea?’ He asked me how much I’d give him. I told him and he said, ‘You couldn’t do any more?’ And I was like, ‘That’s all the dollars I have.’ Jay pauses, breathes. But he took it.
“I feel, you know, really lucky ‘cause it was less than it should have been,” says Jay, adding, “I rubbed on it a lot because I was in disbelief that I actually owned it. And I actually had to wait a few weeks to register it because I didn’t have the $87 it cost.“
Once he could afford some parts Jay got to work. He installed an MSD ‘Street Fire’ ignition box and went through the car rectifying issues that had cropped up through lack of regular maintenance including replacing the fuel filter, sway bar bushings, windshield and window seals, and repairing the throttle linkage. “I found the build sheet and it said that it came with Konis [shocks] so I got some new Konis,” he says.
The interior needed attention as well. “I was looking at the carpet one day before leaving the shop,” says Jay. “It was too far gone to save so I pulled it all out.” Then he suddenly remembered the four yards of leopard skin fabric in the trunk of his daily-driver Volvo that was meant for its headliner. “I took it back to the 911 and started laying it out—and I thought, This will piss some people off.”
Jay replaced the worn Recaro seats with some race shells sourced from eBay, painted them to match the exterior, and continued onto the seat pads with the leopard skin. As a finishing touch he zip-tied three pairs of sunglasses he had found sliding around the floor to the speaker grill in the dash. “I put them there for the first cars & coffee where I showed it,” he says.
Then Jay heard about an upcoming event called the Trissl Über Region Fest in Florence, Alabama, that included an autocross competition. He dug a little deeper into the 911’s drivetrain. “I pulled the engine and trans out of the car and opened up the transmission,” he says. There were no major issues. “I just made a note of what I could do next time, sealed it up, and put it all back together, so it could go to Trissl.”
Jay also did a clutch and replaced the flywheel with one he had saved for just such an occasion. “I had a stack of ‘em,” he says. “The clutch in there was burned so bad that the flywheel was blue on the backside. I found one that was really nice and put it in there.”
Jay’s boss, Doug Hoffarth, loaned him a set of red 7x15-inch ‘cookie cutters’ shod with sticky Maxis Victra RC-1 225/45ZR15 tires. They contrasted wildly with the car’s olive color, and at just 23 inches in diameter, significantly shortened the final drive. “I spent about three days adjusting ride height, corner balancing, and aligning,” says Jay. “It was as good as it could be.”
From his first run Jay launched into the Trissl autocross with the abandon of a dog chasing a tennis ball. The tail wagged, the engine growled, and the go-fast crowd took notice. “Half the time they were in shock and awe, asking me things like, ‘What have you done to it?’ Telling me I was lying when I told them it was stock,” says Jay. “The guys at the start gate said, ‘You must have been driving this thing for a long time.’ I was like, ‘No, I’ve only owned it for a couple of months. This is the first time I’ve ever driven it other than toodled around town. They were like, ‘No way!’
Word got around and hot-shoes rolled in with their Mustangs, Corvettes, and Bimmers to take a shot at Jay’s standing Fastest Time of the Day. “I think I held FTD from 10:00 until 1:00,” says Jay. “And then some raced-out Honda with Hooziers—fully caged and a race engine—got it by three or four tenths.”
Jay continues to hunt parts like rear bumperettes and a proper mirror, so he can return the 911S to its stock configuration. “One of the last things will be putting in the Recaros and raising the car up with the right wheels and tires on it,” he says. He’s circumspect about paint. “I don’t know if I could enjoy the car if it had a perfect paint job. Right now if a bird craps on it, I wipe it off,” he says. “I would really love to get all the little dents rubbed out of the body, and if I don’t have the money to put into painting the whole thing I would like, patchwork it.” And then what? “Put it up on a pedestal,” he laughs.
Yeah, sure. For maybe five minutes. Then he’ll be off dodging cones or chasing the sunset on some twisty two-lane highway.