On any given Saturday, you may wind up at a Cars and Coffee and gaze upon a fair amount of old, familiar Porsches. Not Jason’s, though. He strayed off the beaten path and decided to make his vehicle more unique.
Jason Lightner is not your typical Porsche enthusiast. With minimal mechanical sympathy and care to give, he might as well have birthed the Safari style 911 builds of today.
The particular vehicle in question here is a 1976 912E. Jason picked up this vehicle about 15 years ago for a whopping $2,000. Whilst on his way to pick up a Camaro, Mr. Lightner was pondering through “The Recycler” newspaper and spotted this 912E originally from Hawaii. After that road trip, the rest was history.
The car used to be the polar opposite of how you see it now. It was even green! Many hours were spent repairing and restoring this exact car. However, after the restoration was complete and the car now pristine, Jason found himself not driving the car as much as he should be, if at all. Not due to it being too nice, but because he had numerous other vehicles to distract him.
Now let’s dive a little deeper into this car-dinal sin. The 912E was essentially designed for the US markets as a replacement to fill the budget-minded shoes that the 914 originally filled. As usual with U.S.-spec cars, it’s got some weaker specifications. As stated earlier, this particular vehicle was originally equipped with a four-cylinder based on the Volkswagen Type 4, but it was stroked out to two liters of displacement.
That motor, back when new, was producing an angry 90 horsepower at the flywheel. Early on in his ownership, Jason installed a crate 2332 motor that was producing a lot more ponies than the original drivetrain. Eventually, a proper Porsche 3.0-liter flat six got installed. It was only right to give this Porsche its upper-crust power plant.
Far from being an over-engineered enigma, this entire build is quite straightforward. The 3.0-liter flat six was installed along with some knobby Hankook tires, King bypass coilovers in the front, and 32mm torsion bars in the rear.
On the inside, there is some interior. Mainly, just a full cage accompanied by some Recaro bucket seats. There are, however, no creature comforts – no bass-boosted stereo, no air conditioning, none of that. Instead, it’s just the pure sound of the flat six engine. It’s all the more noticeable thanks to air filter being placed in the cab, which reduces dust intake into the motor, but more on that later.
Further down the line, a MegaSquirt engine management system was installed to lessen the headache of carburetors. Plus, it lets Jason enjoy the ease of tuning with multi-port injection. The total output now is a 204 angry horses; a solid improvement considering what was powering the car before.
Although this project seems like total blasphemy, it’s not as strange as it sounds. Back in the ’80s, Porsche made a bold move and dipped a toe into rally. They tallied up four Monte Carlo rally wins, as well as the 1984 and 1986 Paris-Dakar rally. They were also destined to compete in the infamous Group B rally, but sadly never made it to any events.
Jason made his first rally cross appearance in June of 2013 in Idaho after seeing an event listed on Facebook. Before this first race, Jason put aside a few hours to take care of an important task. “We repainted the whole car the night before we left Washington for the race,” Jason said. “It was originally green, but we coated it in white instead.”
Still slightly unfamiliar with the rules, Jason and his friend arrived to find that a co-driver was required. After searching around, the event organizers found a racing suit for Lightner’s six-foot-plus friend. Even with his friend just sitting pretty, Jason was able to wheel the 912 to a sixth-place finish.
Fast forward to the second race in July. “The event organizer contacted me and said they had a co-driver lined up for me” explained Jason. However, upon arrival, there seemed to be a miscommunication with the staff. After about an hour of confusion, he was introduced to Brent Ellzey. Jason and Brent would make their way to first place at the end of all the stages.
After many miles away from pavement the car has ended up to how you see it here, forcefully patina’d and plastered with stickers. It’s a car that seeps character out of every panel gap. It’s a car that may still make many purists scowl, but to people like me, it evokes a giant grin every time I gaze upon it. Just remember: whether you love it or hate it, don’t be afraid to challenge Jason to a game of corn-hood.