'85 911 Carrera


At the Targa Trophy 2010 Hollywood to San Diego kick-off event this past June, we announced our intention to pick an "Editor's Choice" award from the field of participating entries. For that first leg, we chose Joey Seely's 1985 911 Carrera.

One of the few vintage European cars to participate in a field where the mean age of entries was, conservatively speaking, two years or so, Seely's 911 is a literally shining example of the reigning European sports car icon. In a glimmering sea of late 2000-somethings it may have seemed almost a relic. But given its age and the degree to which it has been driven-the odo turned over 215,000 miles at the rally's midway point-it remains in phenomenal shape. And since Seely is one of the chiefs at BBI, this car has been set up to run, and run hard.

Seely had a raced-out 944 that became his daily driver/commuter by default when he began work in the ALMS. Eventually he got tired of driving that on the street and began looking for something a little less hard-nosed. It was around this time that the 911 popped up.

Seely figures he's the car's third owner, but it was already in pretty good shape when he bought it and it came with a few modifications already in place. The transmission, for one, was the original 915 five-speed, but included a shorter 7:31 ring and pinion, a 935 fifth gear for expanded top end, and a Guard limited-slip differential with 935 one-piece bearing retainer. The car also came with front brake calipers from a 964 RS America that have since been fitted with Pagid orange pads and braided brake lines. (The owner also promises the brake assemblies as a whole will get bigger in the near future with help from Wrightwood Racing.)

The suspension came pretty much bone stock, but after his first track session with the car Seely decided it wouldn't remain that way for long. To hear him tell it, one upgrade led to another, that upgrade led to the next, and on and on. "It took on a life of its own," he says. "I just started looking for the baddest stuff I could get that would just bolt into place. Each part tied into the next."

To start, every bushing has been replaced with a urethane piece. The torsion bars were replaced with 23mm and 31mm hollow bars front and rear, respectively, and the dampers with Bilstein RSRs. A Tarett Engineering bump steer kit and Weltmeister steering rack spacers were installed to help correct front-end geometry on the low-slung Carrera. Adjustable front and rear antiroll bars (with reinforced rear mounts) were also sourced from Tarett.

Seely's wheels are custom forged alloys based on a modified design from VIP Modular Wheels. Toyo R888s provide the contact patch.

Power mods on the 3.2 have been kept to a minimum at this point: SSI headers, a custom 2.5-inch exhaust (with the BBI X-pipe), and a mild Powerchip software tune. Seely estimates the car puts about 210 hp to the ground; it laid down 205 without the exhaust.

The bigger story with this car though is its utterly minimalist nature, and ultimately, its resulting light weight. The car came from Zuffenhausen without power-assisted steering or brakes, and no ABS or stability/traction control. Then Seely deleted virtually every superfluous creature comfort: heat, air conditioning, radio. There are no windshield washers or reservoir, no cruise control. It's just you and the car. Sort of the way nature intended.

Inside, the stock seats were replaced with Euro-spec GT3 buckets, and the door linings with handmade RS-style panels. It's speculated the car currently weighs about 2,300 pounds, and there's still more to do. A rear seat/bulkhead delete and cage are next on the list.

But possibly the only thing more endearing than its mechanical specs are its good looks. There are a few personal touches like the '76 Turbo "Whale Tail" and composite RS bumper. The exhaust outlets have been neatly routed through the bumper; Seely got the idea after he removed the DOT-mandated "bumperettes" from the stock bumper and was faced with six unsightly holes.

Over the course of its mods, the 911's handling has gone from good to exceptional. There's now zero push in high-load corners and the car remains completely neutral. "Cornering speeds are blistering," Seely says, and we have to believe it. In the twisties, it'll hang with cars putting out three times the power. Which is kind of the point. "Our modified CLK Black Series with almost 600 hp and double adjustable JRZs couldn't hang with it at the track," Seely says with audible satisfaction.

Considering vintage Porsches are outside the company's focus, this is a project that really does seem to have taken on a life of its own. But: "There's more to come, and it will only get better," Seely promises, which could mean some downtime for the car as various systems are taken out and taken apart. "I think I need to find another daily driver."

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