Mark Bís 914s


Hi! My name is Mark Britell, and this site is about my 914's, of which I currently have way too many. The first was my Fathers, which sat by his barn in Florida for ten years. When he passed away in 1999, he left it to me. Had I known then what I know now, it would still be sitting there. Needless to say, the dreaded rust worm took its toll on the car. Dad's Car (its official name) started life in 1970 with a 1.7 liter motor, which it still has.


Dadís Car as I first got it home

When I got it home to California , it was missing significant amounts of the floor pan, and hadn't run in at least ten years. My work was cut out for me. The first thing I did was contact a local guy in Morro Bay , who directed me to German Parts and Restoration (GPR) in San Luis Obispo . I talked with the owner (Dave, a great guy) and ordered the Factory manuals. Dave also pointed me in the direction of John Larson at West Coast Garage in Santa Maria . One thing leads to another and I find Rennlist. Finally! People who had the same addiction as I did! It took about six months work, but I finally repaired the wiring (behind the dash, all the wires had rusted away from their connections), checked out the brakes, changed the oil, did a tune-up, replaced things like the fuel pump and filters, had the carb (the Pinto 2 barrel -yuck!) rebuilt, etc. and got the baby running. It ran the twenty miles to San Luis Obispo to be registered (the lady at the DMV made the "oh, mid-life crisis?" comment) and back home safely. It was on the way to Santa Maria and West Coast Garage to be looked over that she holed a piston, and was throwing oil and trailing a plume of smoke she pulled into the driveway. She ran a total of about fifty miles. Unfortunately, that was long enough to do two things. Number one: this car was FUN!! Number two: this car needs WORK!! They both led me to purchase my second 914 to drive while I restored my first.

Introducing The Blue Car

I checked the internet for awhile, and looked at a couple other cars, before driving down to Corona , CA. to pick up my second 914. It is a totally stock 1972 1.7 liter (supposedly) two owner car. I had to take the PO ís (previous owners) word for it, since he didn't have receipts for anything. The car ran good, had no visible rust (and we looked and poked HARD), and was a decent deal. It had been painted twice by the first owner (red over the original yellow) and once by the second (1999 Dodge Intense Blue), but had never been wrecked. I bought it, drove it in L.A. traffic back up the coast, and began putting the normal nickels and dimes into keeping it on the road. Since October of 2000, I've put in a starter, alternator, all the fuel lines (some looked to be factory....very scary) vacuum hoses, ball joints and turbo tie rods, among other things.


The Blue Car in front of the PO ís house

The Riviera rims were replaced by Empi's, which are about to be replaced with Mahle's. I'm also refinishing a set of valences to the stock black, and will repaint the bumpers to match. So far, I've had a ball with this car. I've met a bunch of great people on Rennlist, been to a few Rambles and Runs, and I've helped out John Larson at a few swap meets. I've been fortunate enough to become good friends with John and help him out at the Garage on my days' off, in return for his help on Dad's Car.

The Blue Car

I picked up a pretty clean tub for parts for Dad's Car, and Iím cutting out what I need to replace on mine, along with parts from another donor car or two (thatís why I say I have too many). I stripped the car as much as I could, (including removing and re-installing the sub-dash and re-wiring the whole car) primered and painted everything I could (behind the gas tank, behind the sub-dash, all the nooks and crannies I could find) in gloss black (to at least have a coat of decent paint in there), pulled out floor insulation/sound deadener and started to put it back together. Itís amazing how many colors these cars go thru. Nobody seems content to leave it original. Dadís Car will go back to its original red metallic (a one year only color) when finished.


                The donor and the recipient                     Getting a little paint            

We're getting ready to weld in new pan pieces and take care of anything else that needs welding (such as the normal battery box replacement, hinges, clutch tube, etc.). Once the welding is done, I'll grind everything down smooth and paint on POR15 to keep it from rusting again. If you've never used this, POR15 is the BEST for rust prevention. I'm not sure, but I may strip everything back off the car and have the shell sent out to be painted now, and do it right the first time.

Coming together a little at a time

I've been collecting parts for Dad's Car, original early bumpers and valences (yes, early cars were a little different) from the Tub and the Black Car (youíll hear about it later), early interior (most came with the car, some came in the tub), a good top, and parts to convert the transmission to a side shifter. I have a spare motor I got (just in case) if we need a complete rebuild. John and I hope to get it together for the West Coast Wramble in Reno in October of 2002.

March, 2003      

We didn't make any real progress on Dad's Car before the Wramble, but we got the Blue Car in pretty good shape. We (My better half Marcie and I) made it to the Wramble in Wreno in October, and had a wonderful time. The car ran well (if a little under powered), and looked good with the newly painted Mahles and Dunlop A2's.


I did my best to keep up with John L and Lyn on the way up to Reno , they had pity on us and slowed John's 65 911 to a pace we could keep up with. He only has twice my horsepower! I wasn't confident enough in the car to enter it in the autocross, but got to ride along as a passenger in a 911 C2. WHHHOOOOOOOEEEEE! Gotta get a six in the Blue Car! It was a good thing I didn't run the 914, because when we got home, we decided to adjust the valves and does oil change, the normal stuff. Wasn't so normal when we found the rockers were kinda screwy. To make a long story short, the top end got a rebuild. We found out some really interesting things when the motor was apart. Like that it had 2 left side heads, and hydraulic lifters. Hmmmm. We got another set of heads rebuilt, and decided the lifters would be okay to run with. Once the motor was back in the car, it ran pretty good, but was still running rich. After replacing some injector wiring, adjusting this and that, we finally got around to checking the MPS. It was bad, as you might guess. I did a search of the shop and found a good one, and the power difference was great! The car actually had some! I also replaced the shocks with adjustable Koni's, and the front struts & shocks with the later style hub-centric setup. The car is now running and handling really well.  




We've done some work to the Blue Car, rear wheel bearings, and front brakes, replaced the right front "A" arm, and finally got the front suspension dialed in so it handles well. I tore the doors down and lubed everything so it works smoothly, and found there were some window parts missing from the rails, so I replaced them.

In November the local PCA hosted an autocross in Paso Robles, CA, at the airport.  The 914 handled fairly well.


March 2004

Well, after 18 years of back and forth to the Castle 3 times a week, the inevitable happened. I hit a deer. Take my advice, don't do it! It could have been a lot worse

 (for me, the deer didn't do well).


One day and a couple hours later, with (happily) the parts on hand, it looks much better.

 Even better after a bath (and from the other side).

  I'll have to wait for the bodywork until later. It just means Dad's Car sits on the back burner a little longer.    

April 2004

To make a long story short, my ex-girlfriends' ex-husbands' sisters' boyfriend (that's short?) does body & paint out of his house, and recently got a 71 914 in trade. Of course, he wants to fix it up & get it running, sooo.....we work a deal. I supply his parts from my parts cars; he does the bodywork on my 914. Good deal all around. Here are some pics of the work in progress.


  As long as itís gonna need paint, I may as well get rid of the tits.

  I should have stopped hereÖ..


But this is what happened.


October 2004

Not much has been done to the poor Blue Car body-wise, but it did get a new (to me) tan interior. I did some parts swapping with a local 914 owner and got new seats, door panels, and backpad. Then I asked if anybody had any spare panels on, and one of the members there was just about to re-cover his interior, and shipped all of the old interior panels to me. I plan on re-covering the black basketweave on the dash with tan basketweave, and covering the face of the center console with tan, also. I also re-did the brakes, putting new rotors and bearings on the front, and pads all the way around. The body work on the Blue Car has been sidelined while I took care of other projects.

  Introducing the Black Car

I wound up getting a black 71 914 that was owned by the guy who was doing the bodywork on the Blue Car. He didn't have what it took to finish getting it running, so I wound up with it for $600.00 plus what he owed me. It doesn't help getting the Blue Car fixed, but I got my money back for the motor he was buying from me. I've been getting that car, now named the Black Car (inventive, aren't I?) running. I had to re-wire the engine harness, re-plumb the fuel lines, and basically fix whatever the PO & the PPO had messed up. The brakes were all locked up, so the yellow flared car below gave it's all to supply the parts to fix them, as well as the steering column. I got the poor thing to run, but haven't been able to get it to the shop in Santa Maria to work on it. It needs a valve adjustment, all the hoses replaced (fuel & vacuum), all the rubber brake lines replaced, dash electrical re-wired for the later model signals & wipers that are now on the steering column, and a good looking over. This car will also get the black interior from the Blue Car. My plan (such as it is) is to get the Black Car on the road to drive while the Blue Car gets body & paint work done. 



 The Black Car was sidelined for a while so John Larson & I could do a full body transplant on

 The ThunderBus.

Yup, yet ANOTHER strange project!!

Back in the 80's, John built himself a 73 VW bus with a 2.4 liter 911 motor.

He named it The ThunderBus.

Here are a couple of pics of The ThunderBus just before I bought it.


John had The ThunderBus up until about 3 years ago, and then it was sold to a customer of his. The customer had it for about 2 years, and traded it back to John in return for work on his other vehicles. John decided he already had too many cars, so he would sell it. Well, I was in need of a something to haul the Karaoke equipment around (oh, yeah, I co-own a Karaoke company called Mesa Karaoke, a story to be told at a different time), so I talked my business partner into letting me buy it for the business.  The poor ThunderBus had been well used by John and his 2 sons, (one of which tells me at every opportunity how he got the ThunderBus up on 2 wheels going around a corner), and was rusting away underneath. SOOOOOO, I talked a customer/friend out of another 73 bus body that had been sitting at the shop for a few years. It was in very nice condition, inside & out. He sold it to me for a very reasonable price, but only because he knew it was getting the 2.4 transplant. It also has a dropped front end, which should help it stay glued to the road a bit better.
John & I worked on The
ThunderBus when ever we could, between paying customers, and also on a couple of weekends. I can't express my gratitude enough to John for all his hard work. It took about 2 weeks to get it on the road (it took quite a bit of fabrication work for the shift linkage, and the motor mounts had to be welded in from one bus to the other, and all the brake and some suspension stuff needed to be swapped over). It took about 3 days for me to re-wire all the dash & gauges, but when all was said & done, it came together nicely. I still need to transfer the 911 seats and retractable seat belts from the old bus, along with the "foot" gas pedal, but that's about it.

This is the ThunderBus now.

 My business partner, Kevin, drives The ThunderBus most of the time, so I'll let him get used to it for awhile before we do any more fine-tuning.

Update May 05:

Kevin decided he likes the stock seats, so Iíll have to think of something to do with the 911 ones. Maybe new desk chairsÖ. Most of the bugs have been worked out, and the ThunderBus is running fine. The old orange body is now a storage receptacle at the yard with the parts cars. Very handy.

October 2004

More Autocrossing!!

I took the Blue Car out to Paso Robles Airport for the local PCA Autocross. I had a great time! The course this time was set up for a little more horsepower than last year, and I was at a distinct disadvantage. Last year John & my ex had a hard time catching up to my score because it was a tight course. This year the Blue Car just didn't have enough power to be able to come out of a really sharp turn & get back up to speed. Maybe next year I'll have Dad's Car on the road & can do a little better.
Here are some pics of the AX.


  It was a quiet winter for the most part, nothing much was done to anything but the Black Car. I tinkered with it, getting most of the fuel plumbing and wiring straightened out. All of the vacuum lines were replaced, as were the fuel lines and brake lines. The Blue Car stayed pretty much the way you see it above. I sure do like the tan interior.


I finally replaced the interior of the Black Car with what used to be in the Blue Car. I worked out a deal with the body shop down the road from West Coast Garage; I'll trade the Black Car for paint & body on the Blue Car. The owner there is going to put the car on the frame machine to make sure it's straight, and then he'll do a complete paint job on the car, including the trunks (which are primered)! I'll drive the Black Car & keep improving it while the bodywork is done.  

 April 2005

The West Coast Classic!!

John & I cranked on the Blue Car in March & April, getting it ready for the West Coast Classic in Camarillo, CA. We pulled the trans to do the clutch and turned it into a sideshifter "while we were in there". HUGE difference!! We did the brakes at all four corners, and I put new tires on the front. In essence, we gave the car pretty much everything it needed. It drove & handled exceedingly well, but was still a little sluggish. We replaced the throttle position switch, adjusted the fuel pressure (it was too high), and generally tweaked the injection until it ran fairly well.

Then it was on to the West Coast Classic!!

The folks decided to put together a yearly gathering on the west coast every year, starting in 2004. I wasn't able to go last year, but I made it a point to go this year. You can read all about it here:

We started out in Santa Maria , at the garage for lunch, where we met up with the northern contingent. The Washington/Oregon folks met up with the northern California group in Gilroy , and caravaned to Santa Maria . Here are a couple of pics.

From John's we headed south to Camarillo , CA , to start the festivities.

 Pizza & beer were the order of the day as we settled in.

 On day 2 we all headed for Paramount Ranch (which is a movie back lot for westerns) doing a poker run on Mulholland Drive on the way. The In-N-Out big rig truck showed up to make us all burgers. We were able to park on what they told us was turn 7 of a race track that was here in the 50's. There are a couple of great panorama shots on the 914club website of all of the cars. We had 72 914's show! Day 3 was a travel day to Lancaster, CA, where we took over a little motel complex. We all sat around & shot the breeze, cleaned up our cars, and got ready to hit the track the next day at

Willow Springs!!

We were able to race on the Streets of Willow for a day, and lemme tell ya, it was a blast! Here are a couple of pics.

I think I need some anti sway bars on the car....

The black car just behind us has a Subaru motor the guy just put in before he left for the WCC. He drove it out from Maryland !! Heck of a first drive! The black car at the very front of the pic is called the Alien. It has this 928 motor that looks like a spider in the engine bay. Killer car! I had a great time, and headed home at the end of the day. The only problems I had were hot start problems leaving the track, and again when I stopped for gas in Ventura . I had dinner nearby, and when I came out, the car fired right up. A couple hours later I pulled into the driveway. All in all, a great weekend. Next years WCC is supposed to be in Portland , Oregon , and you can bet I'm gonna do my best to be there!!


I went to work at the shop on Monday, and John & I looked at the starter in the Blue Car, and decided to replace it. We also put in an electronic ignition system. WOW!! What a difference! The car has had a problem with the points closing up, and this cured that! The car really scoots right along now.


July 2005


A little update. The Blue Car is in the body shop or paint & bodywork! The body shop owner wasnít too thrilled with the flares on the yellow flared car, so heís decided to take the Black Car in trade. Works fine for me, less temptation to do something with the Black Car. Itís running fairly well, but Iíll need to drop the motor to take care of a pesky oil leak before I turn it over to the body guy. Iíve also been playing with a 1964 Mercedes 300 SE that I wound up with. I had to do a lien sale on a guy that owed me money, so I wound up with this car.


The Mercedes


Itís got a 3.0 liter straight 6 motor, with a 4 speed automatic transmission, and red leather interior (that needs some work). The body is very straight, with perfect chrome trim. Iíve been told itís all original except for the front bumper, which has been replaced. Itís sitting low because it has an air suspension, and one of the valves is missing. Iím in the process of getting a replacement valve so I can get it on the road. Itís been sitting for 3 or 4 years, so the normal hoses and lines need replacing. Iíve started it a few times, and, other than running rich because of old gas, it seems to be OK. Itíll get a good going over at the shop, and hopefully someone whoís in to these cars will buy it from me. Itís supposedly a fairly rare car, and is in restorable condition. It couldnít have been something I could part out, get my money, and be done with it, could it?  You can read about the ongoing saga here:

On another note, my business partner came into a bit of money, and decided he wanted to buy me out of the business, so as part of the buyout, I wound up getting possession of the ThunderBus! Needless to say, parking at my house is becoming a problem.  Itís nice to have a vehicle that can move my parts collection around in, though. Itís currently storage for the parts I took off of the Blue Car so it could go to paint.


August 2005

Update on the Blue Car


The Blue Car is in the body shop, and has had the frame pulled a little to straighten it out.

 No more wrinkle!!

From the looks of it, the car was repaired once at the factory. Iíve been told they used a dark brown bondo. It also has 2 coats of primer & yellow.

February 2006

More pics of the re-paint in progress. I decided since we were taking it down to bare metal, to go ahead and paint it the color Dadís Car was originally. It was a one-year only color called Metallic Red, but it's actually a maroon.




Looking good!



March 2006

Well, the times they are a changin'. My ex decided I didn't make enough money to suit her, so I'm a single guy again, which, if you've seen my page before, is why there are few references to her. Consequently, I'm having to scramble to finance my home for my sister and I, so, The ThunderBus has had to find a new home. I put it on the Samba, a VW site, and within a week I had a gentleman from Holland making me a deal. The ThunderBus is now on it's way to the Netherlands. I'm going to miss it.



May 2006

The Red Car is out of the paint shop, and well on the way to being put back together.


Nice color!


I also got the tan material on the dash and added a GT style horn button.


Thatís all for now, Iím sure Iíll be updating again soon.

You can contact me at [email protected]


Thanks for checking out my page!