Within the horological community, restoration is a dirty word with little to no redeeming factors. The value of a watch will plummet owing to a refinished dial, even if undertaken by the brand. The car community views this type of work with a different perspective, respecting passionate and professionally undertaken work; even taking interest in the processes to share with like-minded drivers. Our latest edition of My Car features Linus Wien, a young German driver who realised his dream of buying and restoring a vintage Porsche 911.
So, how did you come to find yourself immersed in the car world…
It’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, even when I could barely walk on my own two feet, I would be strolling the neighbourhood with my grandma, identifying different types of car.
Yeah, I would point out a BMW 5 Series or a Mercedes such and such. My grandma would sometimes want to check if I was correct, but in most cases I was right.
That’s quite unusual for a young nipper…
Yeah, it was just something I was so curious about. I used to gaze through the windows of cars at the speedometers, imagining how fast they could go. Seeing a 300 kph indication on an Audi RS2 Avant stands out, that just seemed so fast to me.
You would have been what sort of age?
That was when I was maybe three or four years old.
That’s incredibly young to have car knowledge…
[Laughs] Yeah, I suppose it is.
Linus Wien in his vintage Porsche 911
Where were you picking this information up from?
I’m not sure actually, probably just from looking at them in the street or if we were driving along, I just made a mental note. In fact, I remember at one stage I started identifying cars by their headlights at night on the autobahn…
[Laughs] Now, that’s crossing over into the bizarre…
There used to be a TV show on here in Germany which was the big Saturday night show, and there was a segment where people with special abilities would come on the show. Some people could jump over a car, or eat ten burgers in 5 minutes and here I am thinking maybe I could appear on the show identifying cars by their headlights…
"here I am thinking maybe I could appear on the show identifying cars by their headlights…"
[Laughs] Just so we have this straight, your childhood dream was to be on a German TV show, identifying cars by their headlights…
[Laughs] Yeah, basically. It sounds stupid nowadays, I’ll give you that…
Right… nowadays. Was your father into cars?
Yeah, he was, in fact he was a big Saab fan. He had all sorts over the years, one of which was the 900 turbo which affected me somehow. It’s a fantastic car and it’s on my list of things to get at some stage. Even though I’m very much a Porsche guy, this car interests me because there’s a personal connection.
Often a personal connection like that can over-ride the logical part of the brain…
Yes, exactly. My father moved onto Audi’s after that like the A6 and the A8. I remember the last Audi he got was the V8 engined A8 which was previously owned by an Audi executive. It had it all, integrated phone, four single seats rather than the standard options and it was in dark green.
So your father was as deep into cars as you?
No, I was the one who took it to the next level. I’m definitely the crazy car guy of the family.
vintage Porsche 911 belonging to Linus Wien
Is there a bit of a known connection between Saab and Porsche guys, because Jerry Seinfeld famously owned both…
I think there are probably some transferrable design traits between the two brands, as in, they both have their own very specific design language. They’re very individual and recognisable in that sense.
It’s a shame the brand died really…
Yeah, I like them a lot. Something I really appreciate about these cars is the simplicity of them. If you look at a Porsche interior, it’s very straight forward and utilitarian. It’s always what you expect, and that’s very true of Saab too.
There’s no frivolity for the sake of it…
"...there was just something about the shape that gripped me. In fact, it wasn’t just the shape, it was the sound too."
When was it that you became more Porsche focussed?
It wasn’t until I got a bit older, during high school, that I started noticing Porsche specifically. Whenever they passed me by, there was just something about the shape that gripped me. In fact, it wasn’t just the shape, it was the sound too. There came a moment where I just knew I needed to own one at some point.
And how did you go about making that a reality?
I was researching for a potential project car and I was very much on a budget. I was looking at 924s, scrolling and scrolling on the internet and seeing things for around two to three grand at the time. A friend of mine at university was also looking for cars, but an air cooled 911 which made me have a re-think.
To go for a 911 instead?
Yeah, though it just came down to budget. It was a far more beautiful car, so I was kind of thinking, why not just go straight for the one I really want.
And so you found this car shortly after that?
Yeah, that would have been 2014 that I found it and it was tucked away in an old barn in a dark corner, painted black.
Linus' Modern Edition of the IWC Mark 11
The classic barn find that we all hear about…
Yeah, that’s the kind of thing exactly. So, we pulled it out, took a first glance and it was a bit of a mess if I’m being honest. It had no interior, no seats, no windshield, no engine cover…
I decided to think about it and almost as soon as we left I started to think that it might actually be a perfect project car. I drove back home, took a look at my bank account and thought, why not, let’s just make this work.
Was it more economical to go for a project?
Not necessarily, but I felt that it was important for me to work on the car, to really understand it inside and out. I was studying business administration at university, so I felt like I needed to have something technical like that in my life. I wanted to gain some new abilities while working on something fun.
Seems like a nice contrast to the day job…
I was always very interested in mechanics, so I wanted to understand it all from the gearbox to the basic principles of the engine. As much as I wanted to learn all these things, the budget was also forcing my hand…
For a really good car at the time, it was maybe 40-45 grand, which I just didn’t have.
Linus' vintage silver Porsche 911
How long did the build wind up taking?
It took us about 4-6 weeks to get it on the road. That was put together with all sorts of parts that we sourced from all around the place. Not everything was original and correct, but this got the project rolling.
That’s quite an impressive turnaround time where a build is concerned right?
Yeah, it’s not bad. I remember the first drive and filling it up for the first time, it was great. We did the bare minimum to get it on the road, so it wasn’t without its flaws.
"It was wintertime when I drove it first and there was a lot of rattling and banging noises because we hadn’t sealed the doors yet"
How bad are we talking then?
Well, it was wintertime when I drove it first and there was a lot of rattling and banging noises because we hadn’t sealed the doors yet [laughs].
Did you have a plan to slowly upgrade here and there when you could?
Yeah, pretty much. I spent the whole season 2015 driving, just driving as much as I could. Then, winter 15/16 I decided, ok, now you’ve experienced the car, it’s time to improve it. So, we took it completely to pieces again, took it to the paint shop and returned it to its factory delivered colour, which was silver. We also worked on the engine quite a bit, both the front and rear axels too.
You worked on this car with Jasper at Fine Eleven right?
Yeah, with Jasper and they were just getting all of their 911 restorations going at that point; or the modern version of it anyway.
Linus Wien's Porsche 911
Handy person to know with a project like this…
[Laughs] Yes, very much so. We spent many many weekends together in that workshop, which was a lot of fun. These days they have so many projects to finish that something like that wouldn’t be possible anymore. Their turnaround is much quicker and more efficient. It’s something I really appreciate having been involved with, because the driving is one thing, but really understanding your car inside and out is a cool thing to have.
Does that give you a sixth sense for things going wrong?
Yes, you hear a rattle here or there and you just know where and what that might be. You might try to ignore it as long as possible, but it’s worth dealing with if you know something is going wrong.
So, bit by bit you did a full restoration on the car?
We did, yeah, the goal initially was to get it to be mechanically sound but then secondly, we wanted to make it beautiful too. The main goal was to take the car for a long trip through Europe. We found two weeks that we both had free, and off we went, bags in the car.
Vintage silver Porsche 911 of Linus Wien
What was the plan for the trip?
We wanted to hit a different city every day, spend the night and move on for two weeks. It wasn’t all plain sailing though on the trip because we hit a particularly bad patch of weather at one point which forced us to make an unplanned stop in a random town.
No, so we were driving around without hotel reservations just looking for somewhere we could stop and stay that wasn’t horrible. We failed miserably, tried to get an Air bnb but they were all shared places, which didn’t work. We ended up in a mountain town in a tiny hotel called Gap or something like that…
They gave us a dinner reservation in the hotel, and we aren’t expecting much, but we walk in and it was almost like a cave inside with rounded ceilings. It was really cool and had such a great atmosphere. So, we have dinner, go to bed and wake up early to get moving.
Hoping for some better weather…
Precisely, and we luckily got that. The other thing was the view, I mean, we had arrived at night so didn’t really get a feel for the surroundings, but the view was stunning. We decided to skip breakfast and get straight out to enjoy the weather in the car [laughs].
"Our random choices of roads lead us to a unique little oddity which has given us a really nice memory"
That’s part of the beauty of a road trip, isn’t it…
Yeah, because we would have never found this unusual little place in a million years. Our random choice of roads led us to a unique little oddity which has provided us with a really nice memory. The main thing about this trip though, where the car is concerned, is that I didn’t really prepare it for long distance. This is the great thing about Porsche, and vintage Porsche is that they can handle these long distance trips with ease.
Certainly not something you’d expect from an Italian made counterpart…
It did 4,000 kilometres with no trouble at all. I took some engine oil, but that’s it.
Rear view of Linus' vintage Porsche 911
It’s quite amazing to be able to do that and not worry in such an old car…
I must admit, I do find it quite insane how you can just use these cars on a daily basis and they just work, day after day. I don’t actually know how many miles is on this car because the speedometer was changed at some point, but there are 90,000 kilometres on this one from the 90s, and the car still runs smoothly.
Presumable there are a lot more on the engine then…
Yeah, I wouldn’t assume that it was much of an improvement on the last figure that was on the dial [laughs].
Was it originally a European car?
This was a US import car, and with the big open roads of America, it presumably clocked up a lot of miles.
It’s really quite impressive…
Yeah, it’s a fantastic runner and something which is very personal and dear to me.