Porsche announced earlier this week that it would begin reproducing original magnesium engine cases for 1968 to 1976 911 models. The engine case is the center part of the aircooled heart of a 911, where the rotating assembly is held; the crankshaft and the connecting rods attached to it. The individual aircooled cylinders bolt on to the case with those long studs you see protruding from either side, then the cylinder heads are bolted on top of that. It’s an incredibly simple way to design and assemble an engine, but it’s a totally different method from 99% of other manufacturers. This style really only works with flat engines and in particular aircooled flat engines. For those years from the late-1960s to the mid-1970s, Porsche assembled their engines with a magnesium center section to reduce the weight slung out back behind the rear axle of the 911.
The problem with magnesium is that it is particularly brittle with age, and it isn’t exactly easy to weld without lighting the whole damn thing on fire. So it’s a good thing that Porsche decided to begin reproducing these engine cases, then. If you’ve got an early 911, which has been exploding in value lately, and you need to perform an engine rebuild, but your old case is a bit worse for wear, this piece is going to come in clutch. Even better, because machining tolerances are much higher today than they were in the 1960s, the new engine is probably going to seal better and perform better than the vintage counterpart you’d be replacing.
Another interesting use for a fresh engine case, you can build a new period-correct engine, perhaps with a bit more power and torque, for your 911. With that fresh engine installed, you could take the original engine out and put it on a stand to preserve the numbers-matching piece while still enjoying some miles in your vintage ride.
Porsche hasn’t yet released pricing or delivery dates for the new engine case, but you can bet it’s going to be a pricey one. Worth it? Yeah, probably. Early 911s are well into the six-figures these days. You can afford it. Hell, you can’t afford not to!