A LOOK BACK IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR – PART 2 | Remembering SoCal Car Culture with Chuck Miller and his 1973 911S
Photos by Randy Wells, Andrea Wells, and courtesy of the Chuck Miller Collection
In 1972, after riding in a well-driven 1969 Porsche 911S, Chuck Miller became convinced that he needed one. Chuck was a SoCal car enthusiast who had owned Volkswagen Bugs and an Alfa Romeo Spider previously. Keeping his White ‘67 Cal-Bug with its 1776 cc motor seemed like the more sensible decision however, and it wasn’t until February of 1989 that he went in search of his first Porsche.
What he found was a 1973 911S in the Los Angeles Valley Recycler newspaper for $10,000. It was a matching numbers non-sunroof coupe in its original color of #334 Blue Metallic. The pretty 911S had only 86,000 miles on its odometer and came from the factory with some desirable options, including tinted windows, sports seats and a limited slip differential. It was imported to Circle Porsche in Long Beach, where salesman Mike Hammond sold it to the original owner.
In 1973, the original owner took a cue from Porsche’s new Carrera 2.7 RS and ordered a set of RS flares, rear bumpers, and deco trim from the Circle Porsche parts department. Dan McLaughlin of A.I.R was hired to weld on the flares and mount the bumpers and trim. Seven- and 8 x 15-inch Fuchs filled out the new body style.
Soon after Chuck bought the car, he went looking for a real 1973 Carrera ducktail to complete the RS look. Seven years later, in July of 1996, he found the real deal at a Pomona Swap Meet. Local Porsche specialist Jim Torres authenticated it, and Chuck installed it. A few years later he opted to remove the ’73 front rubber impact bumperettes and fill all the holes in the front spoiler. He also installed a 1972 radiator-type front fender oil cooler at the time. In addition, he swapped H-4 headlights in for the original U.S. seal beams, and changed the front and rear turn signals to European lenses.
In 2003 at 164,000 miles, the matching numbers motor and transmission were ready for a rebuild. The original gearbox was still in good condition, so it was simply refurbished with stock gears and a rebuilt factory ZF limited slip clutch pack. Around the same time the suspension was upgraded and SC front brakes were incorporated. Those changes raised the bar for Chuck’s time trial racing with the Porsche Owners Club at Willow Springs.
By now Chuck had become a fixture in the local early 911 and historic sports car community. So he used his contacts to research his options for an engine builder. He enlisted Richard Dick, formerly of Markham Motors in Burbank, to rebuild the motor to a higher than standard compression MFI RS specification with 9.5:1 90mm Mahle pistons and cylinders. In the process, the case was align bored, case savers and oil bypass mods were added, and the crank was ground, chamfered and polished .010 under standard. In addition, an SC oil pump was installed with #120-104 Web Cams.
Pacific Fuel Injection rebuilt the MFI with the correct RS space cam and a recalibrated pump. Chuck had Eurometrics rebuild the throttle bodies to stock, and Valley Head Service contoured and profiled the heads on the intake side. The stock 2.4S distributor was recalibrated to RS spec as a finishing touch.
When Chuck road tested his new 2.7 RS motor for the first time, he could not believe how much more torque it had compared to the stock 190 hp 2.4 S unit. Instead of having to use second gear for some of his favorite corners, Chuck found himself able to stay in third. And when he needed to pass slower traffic he could just press on the accelerator instead of downshifting. The increase in performance also paid big benefits at the track, and soon his trophy wall was running out of space.
Five years after retiring as a Disney Imagineer for 25 years, Chuck decided to make another change that’s becoming more popular lately. He replaced the ducktail of his 911S with the original rear deck lid that he had kept in storage for over 20 years. The color of the lid matched perfectly. He also replaced the 1973 rubber rear bumperettes with the earlier chrome metal type.
Chuck’s 911 now looks like an S-spoilered, ducktail-delete ‘73 RS in Metallic Blue (which, interestingly, is how the third factory RS was special ordered). Chuck has repainted his Metallic Blue only once, just like he did with his Yellow 1967 Chevy Malibu Sport Coupe, which shares garage space with the Porsche.
A tour of Chuck’s garage is like visiting a museum of southern California car culture. The wall art has changed over the years, and the front nose of the 911 shows some road rash now. But, for over 30 years it’s been Chuck’s only home. As a testament, he has covered more than 150,000 far-flung miles in the well-worn leather sport seat of his 911S. In addition to weekly fun runs through the nearby Santa Monica Mountains and moderating the Early 911S Registry forum, Chuck has also completed tours to Northern California, Nevada, and pretty much every California held R Gruppe event.
To Chuck, it’s just as important to become a better driver of your car, as it is to learn everything you can about the machine in order to maintain its appearance and functionality. One of his favorite expressions is “talk’s cheap”, and while his forum personality is diplomatic and easy going, it is in sharp contrast to his focused persona when behind the wheel of his 911.
Yet, Chuck becomes quietly thoughtful when he considers the spirited times and friendships he has cultivated over the years with like-minded enthusiasts. It’s that supportive camaraderie, which he has come to value above everything else, that inspires him to say, “Only a few have really known the joy and pleasure I’ve had driving, competing, and showing this old car of mine. And with it has come the opportunity to share this passion with some of the best people I’ve ever met.” And so it goes…
Article Copyright 2018 Randy Wells. All Rights Reserved.
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