Member Profile: Chuck & Tina Zachman
September 1, 2012
The Historian’s Desk By Lou Scalzo
This series consists of stories from some of our members in the Carolinas region that would like to share their Porsche interest’s and experiences in the club. I would also like to extend an offer in the future to anyone in the club that would like to share their own story, if so please contact me so we can put it into print in a upcoming issue.

- Lou
Shark Bitten - A 928 Obsession

It is very apparent Chuck and Tina Zachman love the Porsches they have owned over the years. Some of the models include a 944, 968, 993 cabriolet, 996 cabriolet, 997 C4S targa, and 3 new Cayenne’s - S, Turbo and GTS and most recently a Panamera 4S. But Chuck has always been enamored with the 928.

“I saw my first Porsche 928 in the early ‘80s, coming out of the post office one day while attending college. I didn’t know what it was at first, but it was beautiful, sitting there as it idled and what an exhaust note. I knew then and there, someday I’d have one.” Chuck tells me during our phone interview a few weeks back.

Chuck’s first Porsche was a black 944 purchased in 1988. That 944 became a stepping stone to the ownership of many 928’s, Porsche’s front engine flagship sports car, most likely owning some of the nicest “Sharks” in the country.

To understand Chuck’s obsession, let’s get a brief history of Porsche’s first front engine, V-8 powered vehicle:

Ferry Porsche, at the urging of then engineering chief Ernst Fuhrmann, ordered a design study in 1971 of a new front engine model due to concerns of the future viability of the rear engine 911. Starting with a clean sheet of paper at Weissach in 1973 as Project 928, their engineers were given free reign to design a new car from scratch of their own liking under encouragement from Ernst Fuhrmann. Fuhrmann had become company chief, and his long range thinking was to replace the rear engined 911. Under Design Chief Anatole Lapine with body styling by understudy Wolfgang Mobius, the Project 928 featured many innovative features, such as the Weissach rear axle, which featured passive rear steering system. It also featured 50/50 weight distribution, by having the engine position in the front of the car linked by a torque tube housing the drive shaft to the rear transaxle. Aluminum doors, fenders and hood, were part of the design along with plastic bumpers, front and rear, molded into the body lines of the car, an automotive first, creating very low drag coefficient numbers.

Engineering originally wanted a 5.0 liter V-8 producing 300 horsepower. However due to the fuel crisis, the original production engine was scaled back to 4.5 liters producing 240hp. Ferdinand Piech actually proposed using 4.6 liter V-10 with 88mm bore based on the Audi 5 cylinder, which was a variant of the 4 cylinder VW Golf EA827, but was rejected by the Porsche board because they did not want their crowning car with a variant of a lowly VW Golf engine!

The 928 was designed to be an Autobahn burner and the roof structure was actually crash tested to withstand a high speed roll at 168mph. Hailed by the automotive press when introduced in 1977 as a super car and becoming Motor Trend’s car of the year in 1978, the only time a sports car has had that award to date. Porsche actually advertised that you could drive a 928 from Frankfurt to Munich in a shorter time span than to fly the distance commercially. Production lasted from 1978 to 1995, with refinements and improvements over the years including increases in engine size from 4.5 initially, then 4.7 in 1983, 5.0 in 1985 to 5.4 in 1993 in the GTS. Engine valve train also increased in 1985 from 16 to 32 valves.

The S4, introduced in 1987, featured an advertisement with legendary Porsche driver Al Holbert achieving a production car speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats of over 170mph. Always the flagship Porsche since its introduction, it was only surpassed by the 911 Turbo in price. Production numbers where robust in the first few years eventually tapering off in the early ‘90’s as prices gradually rose close to the six figure mark by 1995. A total of 61,056 where produced in Stuttgart during its 18-year life span.

Shark-bitten, Chuck and Tina Zachman purchased their first – a black 1989 automatic S4 – in 1992, and followed with a succession of 928s. “I then traded that one in at Hendrick for BMW 7-series but immediately purchased a ‘89 Black 5-speed with 16k on the odometer. With the purchase of this 89 S4 5-speed, Chuck became interested in PCA concours events and prepared this and several of his 928s to a very competitive standard. In 1995, a red ‘89 GT followed. Next in 2000, a beautiful 1995 midnight blue 5-speed GTS with 8k miles, purchased from the original owner, which I ended up owning twice.” Chuck explained. “A guy from the Washington D.C. area purchased the GTS from me in 2007. He put less than 100 miles on it, and put it in the garage. In 2009 he offered to sell it back to me. He told me it was the search and chase (he pursued the GTS for almost a year b/f selling it to him) of getting the car that he really liked. He was ready to trade the car in to a dealership, but luckily called me first instead. I recently sold that blue GTS to a German enthusiast for over considerably more than the original MSRP of $86,000.” It will ultimately end up back in its homeland.

Some of the 928s that have passed through the garage at the Zachman’s home, including the green ‘78 OB 928 with just 1400 miles.

Chuck has owned several Sharks at one time, and in 2002 he bought a red GTS 5-speed with 28k miles. “I bought this one sight unseen on e-bay, spent some time cleaning and detailing it and eventually re-selling to a fellow PCA member in Boston. In 2006 I bought a ‘95 – Black/Black, wood package interior and a full leather interior, GTS that originally had an MSRP of $100k+. A very rare 928 and one of the very last produced for the North American market. It had a bunch of aftermarket electronics – big stereo, radar detector, Lo Jack, etc. I removed all of that stuff. It also needed some cosmetic work – resprayed the front fenders, bumper covers and hood. I ended up re-selling to a another PCA member in Connecticut.”

“Then, in 2004 on the way home from the 928 Owner’s Club convention in Wichita, Kansas, Tina made the comment about having the first and last year 928s. I knew of a very unique ‘78 OB 928 in New Hampshire. This car was originally bought new along with a Mercedes as an investment. Unfortunately, the owner became sick and decided to sell both cars in 2003. I bought it through a dealer up in New Hampshire, sight unseen, with only 1400 miles. It had a perfect Pascha interior, metallic lime green exterior. It turned out to be the lowest miles, early OB 928 in the country and became affectionately known as “Kermit.” It did require a lot of cleaning and detailing, at one point between the first owner and Chuck, there were squirrels living in it! It took a couple years to clean it up. I showed it during the 2008 Porsche Parade held in Charlotte. It also appeared in the Porsche display at the Food Lion AutoFair several times. I eventually sold it to a 928 enthusiast in Munich, Germany.”

Chuck and Tina became PCA members in the mid 90’s and started attending meetings when the only other PCA members in attendance were Mike Rich, Steve Santee, Harvey Yancey and Joe Elliot. In 1997, Chuck agreed to be Metrolina Area Director and in 1998 served as Carolinas Region VP. By this time, attendance at monthly meetings was averaging ~30 members and Tina and I organized a number of PCA get togethers including the Auto Fair at CMS. Meetings were held at a variety of venues including the Waldhorn German restaurant. “While attending a PCA event in Georgia with the Peach State Region, called Rennfest, we had the idea to organize something similar in the Carolinas Region, calling it ‘Porschefest’” Chuck and Tina put the first three Porschefest multi-event weekends together starting in 1997; this highly successful event later became “Sommerfest”. In 1999, Chuck served as Carolinas Region President and still serves as the region’s Tech Chairman for the 928 model.

From the mid 1990’s he began gathering information on all the 928 GT’s and GTS’s made and categorizing all the VIN numbers ever produced, he decided to take the project further by starting a new website, “928 Registry.” 928registry.org currently contains the VIN number of every 928 sold in the US, and has 4000-5000 current owners listed. It is a great resource for 928 owners or someone researching to own one. Although Chuck doesn’t currently have a 928 in his garage, his enthusiasm for the model remains high. He can still be found on Rennlist with a 928 post, or at one of the 928 events, like Sharks in the Mountains, Shark Frenzy, or the 928 Owners Convention. And I’m sure it won’t be long before another unique Shark resides at the Zachman residence.

Till next time, your Historian.