DIY Art Car: A Porsche 928 Tribute To . . . Us
The one bumper sticker Paul Grusche still needs for his 1978 Porsche 928: “If you can read these words, you’re too close.”
Grusche, from Dexter, Michigan, is a full-time dad, an online trader in vintage Porsche parts, a car restorer, an artist, and a consummate Craigslist and eBay scanner. His own site, GrooshsGarage.com, includes a running tickertape of oddball internet finds of all kinds, but with a focus on underappreciated Porsches.
In December 2011, he found and purchased a mildly scruffy 928 with 82,000 miles near Lansing, Michigan, and began the monumental task of fixing up one of Porsche’s groundbreaking but hugely complicated front-engine grand tourers. Somewhere along the line, as the bills were piling up, Grusche got the idea that it would be cheaper and more fun to make the 928 into an “art car” than it would be to actually repaint it.
Being a dedicated car magazine reader as well, Grusche decided to plaster his 928 with reprints of the car’s original media coverage, which at the time was quite extensive. Our own magazine put the 928 on the June 1977 cover next to the words “The Best Porsche Ever!”
Grusche feels this bit of hyperbole, as well as the rest of the 928’s glowing reviews from those long-ago disco days, has largely been forgotten as the car’s legacy has devolved into one of horrifying maintenance costs and subsequently subterranean resale values.
“I was tired of hearing everybody talk down about the 928,” says Grusche. “The people who owned them loved them, but the die-hard air-cooled guys have no appreciation for it. Now all Porsches are water-cooled.” Grusche gets the feeling that early Porsche 911 owners don’t even want to be in the same club as 928 owners. “I wanted to say to all the people who are not appreciative of the car, ‘Dude, this thing was sweet when it came out.’ ”
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Brazenly defying copyright law (our lawyers will be in touch), Grusche copied and digitized some 32 pages of vintage car-magazine editorial and found an online shop that was able to render those pages on 300 vinyl stickers, each sized 8.5 inches by 11 inches, or basically the size of a standard sheet of paper.
Taking an estimated 80 hours over two and a half weeks, Grusche then carefully applied the stickers over every painted surface of the car, taking excessive care to wrap, taper, and trim them properly around the headlights, mirrors, lights, and fuel door.
When asked if he “floated” the stickers on Windex, as racers often do while applying graphics, which makes it easier to place the sticker and eliminate bubbles, Grusche said, “Oh, that would have been a good idea!” Which makes his very clean, largely-bubble-free sticker job all the more impressive. Grusche decided not to clear-coat his work so that damaged and worn stickers could be more easily replaced over time.
When Grusche brought the car around to our offices, the only staffer who was at the magazine in 1977 was current technical director Don Sherman, who said of the original 928 road test: ”It was the ultimate two-Porsche comparo—928 versus the freshly fortified 911 Turbo. Some highlights: The Turbo clocked 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, the same time the 928 required to reach 50. The (observed, of course) top speed of the Turbo was 165, 21 more than the $26,240 928.”
Grusche is hoping Porsche AG will take enough interest in the car to eventually display it at the company’s museum in Zuffenhausen. Here’s hoping someone over there reads this story.