Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Central Virginia
I'm old enough to remember when the best use of a 912 was to put a Corvair engine in it. Nobody's doing that anymore, of course, mostly, I suspect, because you can drop a tuned type IV engine in and get the same power and reliability for less weight.
All of that said, the big problem with a classic sports car of any kind is that it's either all worn out or you're buying somebody's restoration, and trusting them to have done it right. The good news with something like an Elan, a 912, etc is that (at least until smog and collision laws hit around 1970), they're simple beasts, and doing a stem to gudgeon restoration just isn't that bad compared to, say, restoring a 280Z or a C4 Corvette.
Even if there's no rust anywhere (unlikely - all designs in those days caught water and dirt in some seam somewhere) it's going to have 1960s-1970s paint, fillers, and sealers on it somewhere which means (by modern standards) no paint at all. It will start to rust the first time you drive it in the rain unless you put modern coatings and fillers on in place of what came from Germany in the '60s. Further, anything that moves will need to be dismantled, cleaned, rebushed, and resealed - the entire suspension, the shift linkage, the steering column. You name it, that 50 year old grease is going to need to be flushed out and replaced in it.
Your alternative is buying somebody's restoration. It will not be complete. It will not be done the way you would like. And the rest of the car will still be 50+ years old and in need of love and care at a much greater rate than a newer car.
Lastly, I'll note that ALL the classic sports cars of the 60s and particularly the mid '70s are slow by modern standards. Yes, they're lighter than modern cars (partially because they're vastly more dangerous) but if you look at actual SAE net power numbers, the power/weight ratios aren't that awesome. Consider the 1600cc variants of the 912: 2127 lb curb weight and a 1600 cc normally aspirated 2 valve engine just flat isn't going to make more than 100 HP for very long. So your most optimistic weight/power ratio is 21 lb/hp. Compare with the 2020 Yaris hatchback at 19 lb/hp and you're being beat up at stoplights by a Toyota/Mazda subcompact.
Last edited by steelypip; 09-05-2019 at 09:25 AM.