Porsche Stories From the Autohaus Family: Graeme Evans
Some of the greatest joys in life come from journeys. And for car nuts, our perfectly-sorted pride and joy is usually the result of a lot of hard work, trial and error, and daydreaming.
These stories are fascinating and inspiring, so we’re reaching out to our friends in the Autohaus family to learn about their stories and bring them to you here.
Starting with Graeme Evans, for whom learning to drive was more than just attaining freedom and opening up the world - it was finally being let loose to explore a lifelong passion.
“I’ve been a car nut since I was a little kid, like most of us. I was chomping at the bit to learn how to drive and get my license.”
“My first car was a Ford XB Ute, which I bought for my business. I’ve always been interested in sports cars, however, so I bought a Mazda RX2 from a friend of mine.”
“It was a great little car, and still one of the all-time most fun cars that I’ve owned. When I bought it I joined the Mazda Car Club and started competing in sprints and doing dirt circuit events out at Amaroo and Oran Park.”
“I did all the work on that car myself. Upgraded the suspension with springs and shocks, fitted bigger wheels and R-spec tyres and installed a sports steering wheel and a fire extinguisher for the track days.”
“I even rebuilt the gearbox myself and did my own wheel alignments!”
“As I was developing the car I left the motor stock standard and put all my energy into making the car handle. And it was great! You could really drive that car hard; it walked all over the road but you could really punt it around.”
From the Mazda came a string of 5.0 litre Holden V8s, including another favourite in the form of a 5.0 litre manual VK.
“I was in my early 20s and it was almost brand new, with big valve heads, manifold, exhaust, carburettors, re-graphed distributors, lowered and upgraded suspension with springs, shocks and swaybars done, wheels and tyres - the whole lot done.”
“It was mental; especially in the wet, when you could just not keep the back end stuck to the road.”
When Graeme’s most grown-up and luxurious Holden, a VK Brock Director’s Special was stolen and never recovered, it left him free to pursue other driving adventures and his journey to Porsche really started getting serious.
With a Saab 9000 Turbo hatchback.
“My Saab at the time was the longest I’d ever owned a car. It was a runabout; a good car, but nothing exciting.”
“Around 1999 I started to get a real itch to get a sports car again and started looking at all sorts of cars. I came very, very close to buying a Nissan Skyline R32 GTR.”
“I was sitting at the dealer looking at the GTR, basically about to put down the deposit, when I saw another dealer across the road with a 993 Porsche. I was looking at the two cars and for me it was chalk and cheese. The Porsche was just awesome.”
“So I left the Skyline in the dealer, and went to look at some 993s. I went down to Scuderia Veloce Motors to look at a C4S which had just been traded in. It only had about 20,000 KMs on it and looked brand new. I took it out for a test drive and went home to think about it.”
“A few days later the dealer called me back and offered it to me for a day for a proper test drive, so took it for a drive to Gosford and back. I bought it when I got back, and have had it ever since.”
“It’s a weekend car for me. I don’t want to sit in the car in traffic, or drive five minutes to the shops and leave it sitting in a car park. We use it when we want to take a proper drive and wind through the back roads and the country.”
So the weekend driver’s car is sorted. But it’s been a long time since the Mazda RX2 and punting around at circuit and dirt events.
“I got to the point where I was really itching to do more track work; both for fun and to improve my driving.”
“I’d been taking the 993 to the boys at Autohaus since about 2002 and so had many long discussions with Grant about the best way to approach my track work. I didn’t particularly want to track the 993 because it’s such a nice car and so neat, and I didn’t want to end up modifying it to be really good on the track at the cost of its streetability.”
“So I decided to get a dedicated track car and keep the 993 for the street.
It’s a quandary that many of us face when we decide to hit the track; especially as we get faster and more competitive.
And it’s a bit of a tightrope walk, because a car that’s pushed to the limit for the track is going to be rough, hot and uncomfortable as a road car, and a perfect drivers’ car for the road is going to be a little loose and loungy on the track.
“When Grant and I originally started we looked for an ex-tarmac rally car or a car on which someone had already spent all the time and money getting it set up and prepared for the track.”
“The car we eventually found was originally built in the mid ‘90s in Tasmania for someone who already had a genuine ’73 RS. The RS was too valuable to go thrashing around in rallies, so he bought a ’70 911 and built a reasonably accurate RS replica.”
“He put the original RS motor in that car and ended up winning his class in Targa Tasmania a few years in a row.”
“When he passed away, his wife took the RS motor out and sold the rolling chassis, which Tim from Autohaus bought. Tim went through the whole car, tidied it up and put a 3-litre SC motor in it. He used it for a few years, put very few kilometers on it and then I bought it from him.”
Photo by Blake Jones
“When I bought it I had Tim do a little setup work; lowered it a bit, did a wheel alignment, installed a new set of seat belts and fire extinguishers and added some tow points. Other than that all I’ve had to do is regular servicing and basics like brake pads and tyres.”
“It’s been an absolute hoot, and incredibly reliable. I’ve done every motorkhana and sprint since I joined the club three years ago, and it hasn’t missed a beat.”
There are a couple decades between Graeme’s 993 and 1970 911, so how do they compare?
“Looking at the two cars it’s interesting how many construction details are almost exactly the same, despite the nearly thirty year age gap. When you actually get in and drive, however, it’s clear that the 993 is from another era. It’s a lot more sophisticated.”
“I do really love the non-power steering in the older car. The power steering in the 993 is good, but I prefer the feel from the non-power steering.”
“Porsches are cars that the harder you drive, the better they get. Most cars tend to lose their composure when you start to push them hard, but the Porsches just hook in and you feel like you can drive them as hard as you want. Both of my cars capture that feeling.”
“In the 993 when you pick up the pace the car just comes to life. It’s hard to describe, but the steering becomes really responsive, the pedal weights, brakes and clutch feel fantastic and the suspension feels really sharp and quick.”
After more than fifteen years of happy ownership, Graeme recently brought the 993 in to Autohaus to make some gentle modifications.
Graeme’s 993 is one of the best C4Ss around; it won its class in the PCNSW concours in 2010 and 2011 and came second in 2012, so Graeme, Grant and the team were very careful with the process and mindful of not spoiling or devaluing a well-sorted and beautifully-maintained car.
“The 993’s suspension has been a project for the past two or three years. I went to Grant and told him that I wasn’t planning on selling it and I didn’t want to go crazy with modifying it, but that I’d like to get it more focused as a weekend sportscar.”
“We put Bilstein PSS10 springs and shocks, RS front control arm bushings and solid rear mounts out of a GT2 in the suspension, which should stabilise the car and make it track true and straight. We also installed solid engine mounts and a rose-jointed gear shift. We only lowered the car a little so that it can be driven on our bumpy, little back roads where most fun can be had. ”
“The boys were a little concerned that we’d gone too far with some of the mods, but I’m really happy with every modification we made. The shocks and springs are really sports focused whilst still being very compliant, and the car rides the road beautifully. It drives like it’s on rails now, which it wasn’t quite doing before.”
“The biggest surprise for me was the effect that the solid engine mounts had. They really sharpen the car up under throttle and I almost thought that the boys had changed the exhaust because of how different the engine note sounded. It’s got a bark to it now that wasn’t there before; it’s a much more raw, sporty note now.”
“The rose jointed gear shift really sharpened up the shift and made it much more precise. The car feels like it’s too thirds the size it was before; it’s so much more precise, direct and in contact with the road. It’s a lot more confidence inspiring.”
So with the nicely-sorted 993 now ready for the next fifteen years, and the ’70 911 as fun and faithful as ever, what’s the plan for 2013 and beyond?
“I want to use the 993 more on the street this year and spend time enjoying it; especially with the suspension done.”
“I’ll also be completing in the PCNSW in the white car and aiming to continue doing my best and improving my driving. I’ve had strong results in the previous two years so I’d like to improve on those.”
“I’ve been putting a lot of energy into improving my supersprinting skills, and that was one of the most satisfying things of last year. I really felt solid improvement in my times, consistency and safety.”
Finally, a word from the wise on the most important aspect of all of our putzing around with cars - doing it with good mates.
“One of the best things that I’ve found with Porsche owners in general is that they’re really open and supportive of each other. They’re always happy to share ideas and information, and I guess it comes from the fact that most of them are mature guys who are there to have fun and improve.”
“Not that we’re not competitive and trying our guts out!”
“I’m actually happy to see someone who’s quicker than me in a similar car. It shows me what’s possible in my car, and gives me another goal to strive for.”
“It’s a really good little community, and I enjoy spending time with everyone in it.”
We’d like to extend a massive ‘Thank you!’ to Graeme Evans for his help in putting this story together!
Photos thanks to Graeme Evans.
Photo of Graeme in front of his ‘70 911 thanks to Blake Jones. Check out Blake’s story on the car on his site Sehr Gute here.