A Wonderful Barn Jam or the Little Boy is Back!
An old Porsche 911 slumbering in a barn somewhere in the east of Pennsylvania – was about all of the information Rick, our Klassik Garage contact in the US, had received before he followed the promising trace of the alleged barn find back in 2014.
What finally emerged from the twilight of a derelict building did not give reason for high hopes at the time of discovery. Although it indeed was a rare version of the Targa S, this 1970 edition resembled more of a burn find – an engine fire had heavily damaged the native from Zuffenhausen many years ago…
Would the six-cylinder engine ever recover from its knockout?
For almost four decades, the lemon-yellow colored Targa had remained in its sad state rusting away – and its once glossy sheet metal body threatened to crumble to pieces in more than just the neuralgic points. The fire damage in the engine compartment did not make things better: The air grille in the rear had been melted away to such an extent, that one looked directly into the air intake manifolds, whose filter compartment had also been wasted by the fire! And although the components of the boxer engine were still all in place, a second look confirmed great doubt as to whether this six-cylinder engine would ever recover from the blow…
Contrary to its exterior, the Targa’s interior looked more promising, as it was obviously spared from being fully devastated. Fittings, steering wheel, the Becker radio and all the other essential parts of the dashboard were still existent; the odometer indicated a total of 70,674 miles. Still though, the first impression was quite sober: specific documents and papers were missing, to understand the history of the victim’s fate with the chassis number 9110310479. But, despite all this, the planned deal to evacuate the poor soul to good old Germany was closed after only a short negotiation with the responsible Heads at the Klassik Garage. After all, dealing with hopeless cases is common in our business…
And yet, the Targa still had a surprise ready for us
Upon its arrival in Kronberg in January 2015, the Targa’s live image was unfortunately no different to the time Rick had taken pictures in the US: The miserable condition spontaneously triggered associations we had when a Porsche 901 surprisingly showed up in Brandenburg at about the same time as the TV show “Trödeltrupp” (lit. junk troop) became widely known – only that in our case, we had a good load of rust crumbles falling out from almost all corners of the body just by looking at it.
But then again, the Targa still had a surprise coming, nobody expected: When we started dismantling the object and were forced to break open the glove compartment, we found several papers that had gone yellow – and before we knew it, we had some of the missing pieces on the Targa’s history in our hands.
Of course we had been able to investigate some of the past with the help of the chassis number. But thanks to the newly found documents, a name came into play that shed a new light on the history of the 45-year-old native from Zuffenhausen. To be more precise, it was that of the first American owner, David Brzezinski, who had personally collected his freshly manufactured Targa 911 S in Stuttgart back in April of 1970!
Surely David Brzezinski heard about the success of the 917
Let’s go back to the spring of the year in which the Porsche brand was to write its biggest success story to date – Le Mans.
The legendary victory of the 917 in the classic 24-hour race was yet to come, but thanks to their outstanding performance, the top athletes from Zuffenhausen had been making headlines since the beginning of the year. Porsche’s twelve-cylinder armada sped from victory to victory on race tracks around the globe, and the competition between the Ferrari 512 models and Porsche’s numerous 917 models continued to captivate racing fans time and again. In this highly dramatic phase, the cars of the World Sports Car Championship were undoubtedly at eye level with the Formula 1 vehicles – and Porsche was able to sustainably cement its reputation as an innovative and savvy automobile manufacturer.
The fact that the success story aroused desire amongst potential customers was of course the intended side effect of Porsche’s ambitious commitment, which finally was to culminate in the first victory in Le Mans in June 1970. And it was right at the beginning of that year, when the Porsche 917 showed a phenomenal performance in the US with its double victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona.
And surely David Brzezinski heard about the phenomenal performance of the Zuffenhauseners.
Whether the headline-worthy victories on Florida’s east coast were actually enough to speed up decisions to buy a Porsche, may be left to speculation. But for David, the 24-year-old engineer and Porsche fan, who, as a member of the US Air Force, was stationed in Spain at the time, the opportunity to collect his own Porsche directly at the manufacturing plant in Zuffenhausen was more than irresistible. Even more so, as he then had the opportunity to drive the car across half of Europe, in the beautiful sun of that memorable spring…
The Porsche, Marie Carmen affectionately calls little boy
Even though most of the details of that time have long since been veiled by the mist of history, Marie Carmen Brzezinski does remember that very spring well. A few weeks after her husband David’s appointment in Stuttgart, she finally took the 911 by ship from Bilbao, Spain, to Norfolk in Virginia!
Today, the 73-year-old – living together with her one year younger husband in Warminster, Massachusetts – is fond to share stories about the Porsche, she affectionately calls her little boy (and whose color she chose at the time of placing the order). David, on the other hand, has closed chapter 911, she says. Why? We’ll tell you in a moment…
When the Porsche was delivered in April 1970, Marie Carmen was not present herself. David was accompanied by his brother Philip – who then had to take over the Fiat with which they had travelled from Spain to Stuttgart. As was usual at the time for factory collections, the lemon-yellow 911 S with the chassis number 9110310479, was parked outdoors when it was handed over.
BTW: If you are interested, there’s an archive picture on the Porsche homepage showing Mr. and Mrs. Nurse from the US next to Butzi Porsche (aka Ferdinand Alexander Porsche), as they collect their new 911 S coupé in the summer of the same year. Incidentally, this handover ceremony went through the press because it was the 150,000th Porsche to leave the factory.
The brand-new Targa sure does provide a certain adrenaline rush
But back to our protagonists, who, collecting their Porsche 911 two months earlier, were to miss that ceremony. On the other hand, a brand-new Targa with the newly boosted 2.2-liter engine, which now delivered a powerful 180 hp, was indeed able to provide a certain adrenaline rush…
The international registration certificate with the stamp of the Stuttgart police headquarters dates from April 13, 1970. It is fittingly the Monday after which the glorious 917 models had once again instigated a sensation: Just a day earlier, the Porsche team led by Pedro Rodriguez, clinched a grandiose triple victory at the Brands Hatch 1000 Kilometer Race.
Win on Sunday, sell on Monday – a fitting motto with which our new proud Porsche owner – with the wind of the sporting success in his back – departed on his way to Spain. To begin with – and all the way down to Weil am Rhein (near the Swiss border) – Brzezinski’s route followed the German Autobahn and then continued towards Southern France.
When reaching mile 645 on the odometer, Brzezinski, who had just approached the town of Sorgues near Avignon in France, knew the first inspection was due – according to the maintenance booklet (– the one tucked away in the glove compartment for many years –). The manual required a check on the valves. Brzezinski, though, continued for another exact 578 miles, when he arrived at the Porsche Agency in Madrid – and finally had the valve clearance inspected. By this time David Brzezinski had already covered about 2,000 kilometers with his 911 Targa S.
“David wasn’t exactly fussy about his Porsche”
The fact that he didn’t really spare his car later in the US is proven, among other things, by the inspection receipt of a workshop dating from September 1973. Porsche dealer Holbert’s notes a proud 40,286 miles (almost 65,000 kilometers) on the respective bill – and his wife Marie Carmen recalls vividly that her husband was not exactly squeamish with his native from Zuffenhausen at the time. Unfortunately, at some point in time the necessary care in the maintenance decreased significantly, which apparently led to that major engine damage which was never repaired.
Marie Carmen remembers well that the Porsche was left standing on the driveway at the time and then for about 20 years, and the kids, who kept passing by on their way to school, fascinated by the wreck and asking whether they could take the car with them at some point… Of course there were more serious offers too, but the Brzezinski’s, who by now had three children, remained reluctant until city authorities caused trouble.
Sometime in the nineties – Marie Carmen understandably can’t remember the exact date – a scrap metal dealer came by and took the Targa 911 with him – despite the fact that her heart still clung to the poor soul.
The brave fellow then obviously must have suffered a lot under the rather rough climate on the East Coast.
What happened to the wreck within the following 20 years of inertia was what we saw, when it arrived in January 2015 in the Klassik Garage…
Meanwhile, though, restoration of the lemon-yellow little boy has almost reached its final phase, and many things have come together, so that now hardly anything is reminiscent of the desolate state the Targa was in for far too long. Coming soon in Part II of this Targa story: More about the challenges the magic men of the Klassik Garage mastered…