Restoring Classic Cars with New Technology

by | Sep 21, 2023 | Diversified Machine Systems, DMS Custom

CNC Machining Front End of A vintage Porsche

When DMS Solution Architect Jesus Molina was asked to work on a Porsche 914, he knew he had a special project on his hands.

The Porsche 914 was originally developed as a collaboration between Porsche and Volkswagen in 1970. Envisioned as a “lower-priced, mid-engine sports car,” it was a sleek roadster with pop-up headlights and a removable roof. The year it was released MotorTrend named it their Import Car of the Year, and in the years since it has become increasingly rare to find one in good condition, since fewer than 120,000 were manufactured in its 6-year run.

So when Molina was tasked with manufacturing a new nose for one of these classic cars, he immediately began formulating the best plan of action.

“The first thing I did was I envisioned what I needed to actually machine this,” he recalls. “I opened up the part itself—the model that the customer sent over. From there I envisioned how it would fit on one of our machines.”

When this car’s body was first manufactured, development would have been a costly, slow process on Wilhelm Karmann’s factory floor. Today, things have changed. CNC machines have made it possible to recreate a single feature of the 914 at low cost and with high precision. Rather than needing to produce thousands of cars to make manufacturing cost-effective, Jesus Molina could program and manufacture a single piece on a single machine. Molina says, “It’s old technology that we’re machining with a new machine.”

Among the many excellent 5-axis options that Diversified Machine Systems offers, he chose the DMS Redwood as the best fit. It’s equipped with a top-of-the-line Fagor controller and a Hiteco Electro Spindle and can support table sizes as large as 10’ by 30’. This is a large-format gantry CNC router made for heavy-duty, large-scale machining—perfect for automotive projects like this one.

After Molina had programmed all the machining functions, he performed a dry run of some of the programs to ensure that everything was in working order; this would help him avoid errors, as well as material waste. Once the program was dialed in and his path was tested, he set to work machining. He loaded and aligned his materials and got to work, and the nose was completed in a matter of hours.

The Porsche 914 was originally an international project that was manufactured through the application of a lot of time, money, and good, old-fashioned elbow grease. Now, its restoration can be accomplished by one person in almost no time at all—as long as that person has access to a good CNC machine.

“The thing I’m more excited about this,” Molina says, “other than seeing the finished product, is allowing our employees to see what our machines are capable of.”

Turns out, they’re capable of quite a lot. This is a beautiful melding of history and future—a classic sports car restored with the assistance of the most innovative CNC technologies. It’s just one of the many projects DMS is proud to support.

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