When we last saw Mike’s Porsche 944, the beat-up little coupe provided some entertainment when I drove it. The excitement came from an impending sense of disaster thanks to its roasted running gear. The Porsche hardly felt road-worthy during my short time behind the wheel, but that was an almost untouched state immediately after Mike had bought the car. Any reasonable person who wanted a daily driver to use through the winter would want to steer well clear of this Porsche. Mike, however, is not an average person when it comes to his ability to take an absolute mess of a car and make it something incredible.
I was invited to Mike’s garage to witness his progress so far on the little coupe. What I found when I arrived was Mike in his usual place, hard at work on his bench fabricating some parts that instantly caught my eye. The Porsche sat on jack stands with most of the front suspension removed as well as its front fender. What made me curious, however, was the all-terrain tire wrapped around the bright orange rear wheel and stuffed dramatically into the boxy rear end. Mike wore a sheepishly excited grin as he showed me what he was in the process of making.
The metal tubing on his bench he so carefully measured and cut was slowly becoming front control arms in front of my eyes. The larger A/T tires required extended control arms and some extensive massaging to make them fit. Mike’s plan is to turn this Porsche into a competent off-road rally car. His intentions are to dominate the winter challenges against the other competitors, like Rocky with his Mercedes W124 or Kevin in his Audi 200 Quattro Avant, by building this Porsche like no one ever has. Unfortunately, that means parts aren’t exactly available to purchase and bolt on. Mike has to take everything a step further if he wants to bring home the Rusty Cup at the conclusion of the challenges this winter.
This particular Porsche is not exactly something I would personally choose to tackle winter weather thanks to its low-horsepower four-cylinder engine and rear wheel drive layout. Especially not one that needed all new suspension, brakes, steering components, various engine maintenance, bodywork, wheels, and an assortment of other bits just to make it a reliable daily. Mike has addressed all that and more. The extended control arms he handmade are not the only additions upon which he decided.
A set of long travel springs and Koni dampers distracted me as I watched him fit the OEM-spec ball joints to his new arms. The springs and dampers will become part of the long travel and height adjustable coilovers he is making for the build by hand. The sheer amount of work he has already put into this car in the short time since I last drove it indicates that a Mad Max style 944 may be on the roads of Ohio sooner rather than later, and sporting one-off suspension made in a little garage by a man fueled by passion (and beer).
Mike is taking the idea of a winter beater to the extreme. This Porsche is about to experience its best life at the hands of a talented and creative engineer who has a taste for the outlandish and extreme. The thought of a rally-spec 944 blasting around the snow-covered roads and fields of Northern Ohio has me bouncing with anticipation, a sentiment I am confident its owner feels as well. The car is far from complete, but these hand-built modifications are an excellent place to begin when it comes to preparing the car for the abusive conditions with which it will contend this winter. With the new suspension, this car may yet be an indomitable opponent at the hands of its mad-scientist driver, Mike.