Melbourne Outlaw: Hugh Feggans' Custom 1977 3.0L Porsche 911
Photography & Interview: Luke Ray.
The return of the impact bumpers. This mild custom 911 is a personal project that marked the beginning of a lifelong passion for architect Hugh Feggans. Hugh's got plenty to say about this car and how the Porsche appeal is now a solid part of his life.
Who are you and what do you do for a living?
Hugh Feggans, father of three, Architect and self-confessed Porsche addict from the Mornington Peninsula, Australia.
Tell us about your first love for cars, right back when you were young. What inspired you?
I’m one of three boys with two older brothers and we all grew up in Tamworth (country New South Wales). Growing up in a country town you had to make your own fun and I developed a strong interest in bicycles. I just loved the escape and freedom my bike provided. I believe this naturally led to an interest in anything on wheels and cars were a natural evolution. The Porsche 911 has always been the yardstick for sports car comparisons and I’ve always loved their uniqueness and non-conformist design philosophy. I’ve also always had a keen interest in design and was probably around 15-16 years old when I watched the ABC program ‘In the Mind of the Architect’. I remember very clearly the image of Barrie Marshall (DCM Architects) driving a black 964 turbo through his then recently completed Melbourne Gateway project, this resonated so strongly with me, a coming together of all my worlds. There was no going back. Funnily enough having moved to Melbourne and finally purchasing a 911, driving through the Gateway was a key part of its initiation.
What was your first car?
I bought my first car at 18 under the guidance of my Dad (conservative voice of wisdom) and it was a demo Proton from the local Tamworth dealer. It was a special moment for me as I had been working for several years and the (relatively new) car meant a lot to me and my sense of freedom. It had some aftermarket wheels on it, rear spoiler, lowered sports suspension but most importantly a sports exhaust that made it at least sound fast. I drove that car everywhere, road tripping throughout the later part of my High School years and finally onto Melbourne where I would start the next chapter of my life. It served me well.
How many cars have you had?
My car history is pretty limited, following the Proton I purchased a Toyota HiAce van. As a keen bike rider this was an awesome and necessary mode of transport. 18s, side pipes and it was a sled! It was during this time I bit the bullet and purchased my first Porsche, a 1977 3.0L 911. It’s the same car featured here albeit somewhat reborn from the initial car I purchased some 10+ years ago. As a 21 year old retail shift worker it wasn’t what you’d consider a sensible purchase but it’s something that I’d always wanted, thankfully I’ve managed to hang onto it and have no regrets to this day.
There is a lot of me in this car and it’s most definitely a keeper. Two years ago I purchased my second Porsche, a 1990 964 C2 manual coupe and that is now my daily. It rocks two child seats in the rear for my 3 year old twin boys and has enough room for my seven year old son to ride up front. Sorted! I’ve recently also purchased a 2000 996 MK1 GT3 CS that is a dream car of mine and something I’d never expected to get my hands onto. Each of the three 911s offer something quite different in terms of experience and are a great example of how diverse the 911 evolution is, they are unmistakably unique in that regard.
Why Porsches specifically? Are you into other genres?
Porsches, or more specifically the 911, have just always intrigued me. Whilst I’m into other cars, it’s the history and design evolution of the 911 that has always put them in a league of their own. As a creative professional I believe the design process never stops, you can always test and refine ideas to influence design. I think the 911 is probably one of the best examples of that, not just in the automotive industry, in the design industry as a whole. I do have a soft spot for old Land Rovers and Lotus’ though for similar reasons.
What are we looking at here?
It’s a 1977, 3.0L Porsche 911. These are the earlier 3.0s 911s, prior to ‘76 the capacity was 2.7L. This is a period of 911 referred to as the ‘impact bumper’, introduced to comply with US low speed crash testing. They used to be considered as an ugly duckling compared to the slender chrome bumper pre ‘73 cars but I’ve always loved them. Over the years many were updated with later model bumpers and more recently the trend has been to backdate by replacing with the pre-’73 chrome bumpers. Not being one to follow a trend I persisted to retain the bumpers and as it turns out they have now started to come into their own.
When and how did you come to own it?
I purchased it off a Solicitor who at the time commuted in it daily. It was far from a perfect car but it was straight and a pretty honest example. I had the previous owner’s mechanic (reputable Porsche specialist) look over it and give me the full run down. Whilst I was into 911s like all old cars they can be a minefield so you definitely want to ensure you know what you're getting yourself into before you make the deal. After a period of negotiation and getting some mechanical items attended to I drove it for the first time, out of the workshop!
In what condition was it when you bought it?
The car is originally a US delivered car so it’s been converted from left hand drive. This can be an exercise done well or very poorly. Fortunately this car has had a tidy conversion done so all was well in that regard. It had a few areas of rust in the typical spots for these cars (under the battery and front floor pan). This was all cut out and repaired. Overall it was a relatively straight and honest car, a good base for my first 911.
What were your intentions back then?
Initially I just spent time and money getting the car tidied up, nothing concourse, but just to get it to a level as a presentable driver so that I could enjoy it. The car remained relatively stock for a number of years, about eight or nine, just carrying out basic required maintenance. They are a very robust car and even tired they can run and still pull strong quite reliably. It wasn’t until my neighbour at the time backed into the passenger door that it commenced a full bare metal rebuild and turned into the car you see today.
Now list all the modifications that have been done to the following, including any interesting facts and/or stories to go with them:
Body & Paint
The car has had a full bare metal respray in its Guards Red colour. There were a few little areas of repair required but generally the car was in pretty good shape body wise. This was a long process, however I believe it’s definitely worth the result. As mentioned earlier, I specifically wanted to retain the impact bumpers as this resembles the original little red 911 that I fell in love with many years earlier. The intention has then been to develop the car into its own identity without losing the essence of the original, just trying to find the balance between modifying to make your own without making a Frankenporsche (not there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not my style).
The interior has been completely redone but utilises the original dash. It has a deleted back seat (RS style), full roll cage with RS door trims and two BF Torino period basket weave Recaro seats complete with a driver’s four-point harness. A Momo Mod 07 wheel and wooden 917 inspired shift knob complete the spartan interior. It’s no fuss, fit for purpose as a classic ‘70s Porsche racer should be.
Engine & gearbox
The engine is the original 3.0L but has been completely rebuilt to a high performance but still reasonably driver friendly specification. This included stripping the engine back to a bare case and replacing everything including all new pistons and barrels, cams and it’s running a two in, one out custom sports exhaust with SSIs. It howls! I’ve retained the original 915 gearbox but this has also been rebuilt and despite the negative press on these units, is a tight shift.
It does have a long throw and while I’ve considered short shift kits as well as an improved shifter assembly, part of the charm of these earlier cars is the effort and precision required from the driver. They ask for more driver input and give back a more rewarding experience as a result. They can also punish you much harder too but therein lies the game.
Wheels & tyres
The wheels are custom and utilise an original 901 (early 911) 15” steel wheel. These have then been cast into widened to 8” front and 9” rear aluminium outers with custom backspacing to fit under the standard guards. They are shod with Yokohama/Advan semi slick shoes and I think this combination really suits the track-focussed tough and aggressive style of the car.
The original Koni shock absorbers were refurbished including being painted and are mated to larger Turbo torsion bars, tie rod ends and all new bushings and rubbers throughout. It’s a track setup but can still be enjoyed on the road. I also don’t want to trailer a car to and from the track.
The car currently runs earlier mirrors as opposed to the standard ‘flag mirrors’ of the era, these were originally chrome but like a lot of parts on this car have been painted black. The lower sill was deleted, black headlight bezels and mesh rear grille add to the RS inspired touches. I definitely don’t want to overcook it, ‘less is more’ is definitely something that applies to the 911 mantra so any additional mods have been subtle and minimal to keep with the theme.
Do you take the car to events? How is the social scene that goes along with owning a classic?
Over the past year or so I’ve started to attend more track days and competition events with this particular car including a couple of Motorkhana events that have been put on by the Porsche Forum Australia. I do also try and get to the odd Fuel Magazine Coffee & Classics event, weather and location dependent. Most of the events and social outings I do attend are with PFA and these vary from a breakfast catch up at Dakdak Café in Melbourne to SMT drives that we take on the occasional Sunday morning. It’s all very relaxed and social, we meet up, take a drive then grab breakfast and talk Porsches. These cars were made to be driven so we do our best to give each other good excuses to get them out (not that we need it!).
Tell us about the forum. What is it, when/why did it start?
Porsche Forum Australia is the brainchild of Kerry Leonard and was launched in ‘09. Since then it’s evolved to over 2500 members and is probably one of the most diverse collectives of Porsche owners in the country. Whilst there are members on it from all over the world (and Australia) the core membership remains local to Melbourne, although this could change at any point. I’ve been a member of a few forums but the membership with PFA has been unique in that I’ve made some genuinely good friends whose friendship has extended outside of the forum and is as highly valued as the cars!
A good example of this was recently shown at a Porsche festival held in Sydney called Rennsport. The invitations for accommodation & transport as well as offers to BBQs held at members private residences all as a result of the PFA members network was really a great thing to see. Porsche is a brand that has a strong culture associated with it, as a result you get passionate people (like myself) who just get excited to have someone who understands how infectious the condition can be.
Not that anything’s ever finished but this car is at the point of being enjoyed more than further developed, no huge plans lie ahead at this stage. Always a few little things that can be tinkered with but they are just that, little things. I have a few ideas for the 964 but that’s getting to a point of where I want it to be, hence the new arrival of the GT3 to keep me busy (and broke!) Fortunately my plans for the GT3 are pretty limited, Porsche do a pretty good job of making amazing cars out of the box so there is little need for major intervention in order to enhance the driving performance of these cars. All my cars are drivers, I try to drive them often and enjoy as Ferry Porsche intended and ensure that nothing I alter with the car detracts from that ethos.
Follow Hugh: @hughfeggans_aych.