Welcome back to wheels, Matt! We last saw you over three years ago and back then you had a lovely 1967 Karmann Ghia and a really cool, very low-mile 2001 Esprit V8. Do you still have them?
Thanks for inviting me back again! Not long after that article I relocated to Dallas, Texas for a while. Try as I might I couldn’t take either car with me, the Karmann Ghia had left the US on a salvage certificate so I couldn’t take it back there and I also couldn’t get them to accept the Esprit as a federalised car — even though it had the badges and letters from Lotus. Sadly I gave in on both and sold them.
The good news is they are both in good hands; the Ghia went back to Germany for a full restoration and the Lotus is in a collection in the UK. I often lament many of the cars I have sold, but those two hurt more than most.
We’re sorry to hear that, but, your awesome 356 has taken a bit of the sting away! It is simply gorgeous, where did you find this Porsche?
Believe it or not I found this one night on the Emirates Auction site. I didn’t really know how that worked, thinking it was like EBay, but obviously it’s not. My tactic of bidding late just didn’t work and I got bored of the tiny increments and four minute extensions and so I threw in a stupidly large bid to move things along. Naturally, I won!
Haha, we like your style! What condition was it in when you got it?
‘Never buy a car unseen’, they say, well they’re right. I didn’t bother viewing the car, but it looked good in the pictures. To be fair, it was all there and it was a nice red with beige interior but with some cheap and tatty carpet.
I contacted Porsche to get some more information about the car and one of the great services they provide is a Certificate of Authenticity; you can basically get the car’s birth certificate detailing its original specifications. I got mine and that’s when the major work started. It turned out it was Bali Blue with a red leatherette interior. It needed some bodywork to be done, so the decision was made to strip it and take it right back and rebuild as per original spec. It underwent a full restoration (bodywork, interior, new upholstery, running gear, fuel tank etc etc) but I made sure to leave all the chrome trim and detailing original for a bit of character.
After about a year or so of work, it passed its registration test — but on the very same day after giving it a good run, it blew its engine!
No way! What rotten luck…
I wasn’t very happy but the engine wasn’t the original anyway; this car should have had a 1600 Super but over the years someone had the slightly less powerful 1600 Normal fitted.
I managed to find a factory correct 1600 Super in the right number range of the right spec from the right plant. It was in the US and needed flying over, but as soon as we got that, we fitted some slightly larger pistons and barrels taking it to 1720cc, an electronic ignition and some weber carbs and we were good to go.
It didn’t give out on you this time we hope…
No, fortunately, it has been as right as rain ever since.
Long may that continue. What’s it like to drive?
It’s fun to drive, not unlike the Ghia, but feels less floaty. I’ve been driving it in on the odd weekend, the old air-cooled engine seems to handle the heat better than I do! If I’m honest I haven’t used it as much as I’d like to; I end up opting for some of my other cars due to that heat factor. That said, it is great to drive a car that puts a smile on faces, although I’m sure most think it’s a Beetle in drag!
It’s a 1963 model which was the last of the 6v cars, and so I didn’t want to update that. However, I often park it at work in a basement carpark and after a few weeks standing still in the heat it can be a nerve-racking five minutes cranking it over on the 6v trying to prime the evaporated fuel lines and carbs — and you can’t jump start it either. We sorted the problem with a little push button priming pump; a four second push and she’s good to start. You can’t over-estimate how much of a relief that is.
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Is it easy to service and are parts readily available?
Servicing is easy but parts are a nightmare. I got almost everything for the restoration from one of two big suppliers in the US and my ShopandShip account took a hammering.
Service-wise, the local air-cooled boys are free and easy with their help and advice and there are more than enough VW flat four experienced guys in the classic specialist garages that’ll turn their hand to a Porsche, heresy I know!
I recall someone telling me that the exhaust was on upside down about six months after the restoration was complete — they were right and we hadn’t noticed!
You have to look back and laugh at these things don’t you, it’s all part of the journey.
It sure is — you’d go mad if you didn’t laugh! You also have an awesome fully customized Jenson Interceptor and recently acquired a TVR 420SE! We’d love to see those sometime if that’d be ok? How are they both running?
These are partly the reason the 356 isn’t used that much. I’d love to show them to you.
The Jensen is a 1971 resto-mod; it’s running a modern Chrysler 300C SRT-8 under the skin and it’s a handful to say the least, and the TVR is one of only seven made.
These two are both finished, registered and being enjoyed. I also have a couple more projects underway that I hope will also grace your pages one day, but I’ll keep my powder dry on those for now.
It’d be our pleasure! It’s almost riding season and we know you’re a biker, so you must be looking forward to getting back on your awesome six-exhaust Honda CBX 1000!
You’re killing me! The CBX came to the US with me, but my stay there wasn’t nearly as long as I intended and when I came back to Dubai six months later I sold it to avoid the hassle of importation etc. But I have recently replaced it with another Eighties classic, an old favourite a 1982 Suzuki Katana, modified of course, it runs a late Eighties GSXR1100 engine and modern 2007 GSX-r1000 suspension. I’m just getting it through the test so will hit the roads soon, perfectly timed for the weather.
That sounds great, last but not least, are you any closer on getting that Lancia Stratos that you have always wanted?
Still a dream I’m afraid, a couple of the other projects will have to go first, or at least be finished!
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