Skinner Butte Outtake: New Yorker, Dr. Vic, and a Tale of (Porsche 914) Woe

It’s already been three weeks since we were graced with a repeat visit from Vic Ceicis (Geelongvic here at CC) in his Porsche 914 that he had driven out to British Columbia for the Spring Thaw Rally. That all went well, and he was now on his way south to Las Vegas before returning to Ohio. A mighty long trip for the 914; two years ago he had shipped it out.

As is the custom at Gasthaus Niedermeyer, we went for a brisk urban hike after lunch, and our destination (as so often is the case) was the summit of Skinner Butte to take in the view of the city below. And there’s inevitably a CC there to shoot too. We weren’t disappointed; a nice survivor K-Car New Yorker. Let’s check it out before we get to Vic’s 914 tale of woe.


This is my favorite shot of these cars: a TURBO badge and fake wire wheel covers. This New Yorker is suffering from cognitive dissonance. Unlike the lag-free modern turbo engines with big, fat torque curves (mesas, actually), these were not quite so linear in their power delivery.

No such confusion is apparent on the inside: it’s 100% broughamtastic. The casket door handle is the icing on the cake.


There were a few other cars worth shooting, like the gen2 prelude right behind the New Yorker, but we gave it a rest.

And instead enjoyed the view of the not-so-big city spreading out before us. Vic ended up staying the night, but not before we had a delightful dinner out and even more delightful conversation.


I didn’t take any pictures of the 914 this year, but this picture is from two years ago, when Vic also dropped by after having just completed the same event. There were some significant improvements on the car this year, most of all an air conditioning system, very nicely done. Two years ago Vic hit 115 degree heat in the desert on the way back, so this time he was prepared. But of course there’s always other things that can go wrong. About three days after he left, headed for central Oregon and then a similar drive we made this winter down the western side of Nevada, I got this email:

Life has its little, or sometimes big, surprises, and so it has been with the recent 914 western Adventure.

After leaving Eugene, Oregon, all seemed well on the way to Bend and further south in the hot dry high desert of Oregon extending into Nevada.  On lonely rarely traveled route 140 heading towards the Oregon Nevada border, the heart of the 914, its engine began to show signs of engine oil overheating followed by a cacophony of noise caused by a loosened metal engine cooling shroud banging against the engine’s cooling fan. Road vibrations had caused many screws to have loosened and to have backed out resulting in the loosened shroud, and restricted engine cooling.  Not good, but badness, not immediately fixable on the road.  The shroud was moved away and wedged away from the fan inlet.  But the damage was already done, it turned out.

I made it to I80 and limped my way with the wounded 914 to an unplanned side trip to Reno, NV, where the Porsche dealership had Saturday service hours until 7:00pm, and I arrived at 5:00pm, seemingly salvation.  Unfortunately the 914 was older than any of the service techs, and none there knew how to service a 914.  The reality, a false salvation.  However I was told to go the an independent Porsche shop called Reno Rennsport. So I used my time in Reno visiting the late Bill Harrah’s fabulous auto museum on Sunday, and then went to Rennsport when it opened on Monday morning resulting in successful remounting of the shroud.

Back on the road again, Ah, per Willie Nelson, the ‘14 and I made it about 200 miles before unexpectedly high engine overheating re-occurred during the long desert road incline to the old desert mining town of Tonapah NV at 6000+ feet.  Not good, worrying badness.  I cooled down the ‘14 like an overheated horse, and then stayed the night at the old Mizpah hotel.

There was no ghost sighting during my night at the hotel where ghost wandering and sightings were said to be common.

The next day I started with a cool, but now wounded engine, passing through the nearly extinct desert mining town of Goldfield, passed near the “hidden secret” Area 51, while limping to the “sin city”, Las Vegas where I was greeted by my old friend, Steve.  The next day I spent almost all my time working under the car during Las Vegas 105F heat.  The cause of the continued overheating remained a mystery after checking out the entire cooling system and confirming working oil coolers.

On LV day 2, the ‘14 went to the independent local Porsche doctor, “Carl’s Place”.  A failed leak down test pointed to and suggested a cylinder #4 failed intake valve, no power from #4, Oh no!!.  Could it be repaired in 3 days to continue to Colorado for the Silver Summit Rally?  Not really, not a real chance.  So what to do?

So after much discussion with the lads at Carl’s Place in LV, and the boys at Steinel’s Autowerks in Cleveland, and then after along discussion with the Master himself, Eric Steinel, it was decided to be prudent, to ship the ‘14 home by enclosed truck transport to CLE.  The faithful old girl deserved this.

The 45 year old 914 did about 6700 miles during her part of the western trip.  A real champ, I must say, deserving a rebuild at home without risking more damage in the mountains of Colorado.

Such is life with a classic. But the 914 will ride again.

Here’s my write-up on driving Vic’s 914 when he was in town two years ago.