If you were to scour New Zealand for a crack team of Porsche enthusiasts knowledge and passion to represent the Porsche Club of New Zealand at the Intermarque Concours d’Elegance Teams Event, these two gentlemen would most certainly be near the top of the list. Words: Lachie Jones. Photos: Jared Clark.
David Mackrell — Porsche 356
By day, David Mackrell is part of the leadership team at a large New Zealand company; by night and at weekends, he is a husband, father, and the president of the Porsche Club of New Zealand. David and Michelle’s gorgeous 356 was a part of the Porsche Club’s concours-winning team event at Ellerslie this year.
On New Year’s Eve 2013, a special delivery arrived for the Mackrells. As they sat atop North Head with their two daughters, they watched a container ship weave its way into the Waitemata Harbour after a long journey from Los Angeles carrying their long-awaited 356 cabriolet. The 356 was Porsche’s first production sports car, and was manufactured from 1948 to 1965. The first versions are known as ‘Pre-A’ models, with the 356A introduced in late 1955. The A was later followed by the 356B in late 1959, and then the 356C in 1964.
David and Michelle’s love for 356s had grown via many road miles in their ruby red 1962 356 coupé, a concours team car in 2007. Having decided to try to find an early cabriolet version, they had entrusted Kip Colvey — owner of 356 restoration business One at a Time — with the task of finding them a suitable 356A cabriolet. Kip was able to track down their 1958 356A cabriolet in Colorado through a connection with a US restorer. The restoration hadn’t been completed to concours speciication, and there were a few areas that needed attention before compliance could be obtained, which meant some work would need doing, with Precision AutoWerk and Kip at One at a Time tasked with the job.
The 356 is finished in a beautiful hue, Fjord Green, which was Ferdinand Porsche’s favourite colour. Because of this, the late Porsche founder has been honoured on David and Michelle’s car with the personalized plate ‘FERRYP’.
David’s love of Porsche runs deep. He bought his first Porsche — a 924 — when he was just 20 years old. From there, he joined the club and became properly involved when he moved to Auckland in the mid ’90s, after which he bought his first 911 SC. David is happy to admit that the club plays a big part in his and his family’s lives — indeed, it’s almost part of the family. David and Michelle’s two girls attend events with the couple and have become as passionate about the brand as anyone. Both David and Michelle have been involved in the Porsche Club committee at one time or another for over 15 years. heir garage ain’t half bad either, with matching daily-drive 996 Turbos and the 356 alongside some other impressive metal, including a GT3 Cup car which David uses to compete in the Pirelli Porsche Championship.
David is extremely proud of, and grateful to, the Porsche Club’s members around concours time, when everyone comes together to get the competing cars ready, amply illustrating the camaraderie within the group. Indeed, Mike Bitossi and Rodger Anderson spent around two weeks in David and Michelle’s workshop sorting out the 356 for the show, simply because they love the challenge and want to see the club do well. Continental Cars opens up a bay for the club the week before, and members can be found there, toothbrushes in hand, completing the final preparation.
David has seen huge growth in the Porsche Club since he’s been involved, and it now has around 700 members nationwide. hey encompass people with a passion for Porsche — whether they race, drive, or simply love Porsches. In 2012, the club organized New Zealand’s second hosting of the International Porsche Parade, which saw over 300 people turn up to Taupo, as did cars from the factory museum in Stuttgart.
Last year, marked the 40th anniversary of the club, with celebrations throughout the 12 months and carrying on into early this year with the New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing celebrating Porsche held over two weekends at Hampton Downs. his culminated with 402 cars lined up at Hampton Downs from right across the country, a phenomenal result for the club, especially given original expectations of around 250. he New Zealand club is the 54th official Porsche club of around 670 worldwide. As the international scene grows, it shows how our small nation is simply besotted with the brand and the fabulous products it produces.
Dean Huston — Porsche 911
Dean spent 17 years slaving over the tail end of sports cars at Continental Cars, the final 10 as Service Manager.
Classic car ownership, let alone a restoration project, wasn’t anywhere near Dean’s radar in late 2010 as he sat quietly having a beer at the Milford Cruising Club with some members of the Porsche Club, as they often do on a Thursday evening. These guys certainly have their fingers on the pulse of what’s around and any cars that might be on the market. When club member Greg Gaylor came across a certain 1970 911 he thought might pique Dean’s interest, he laid it out for Dean: “his car is going to take someone with a lot of money or a lot of skill to bring her back to life.” With those words, Dean let it slip his mind until, later on, he mentioned it to his wife. Little did she know what was coming.
Steve Rasmussen at Euro Pacific was the man who’d brought the car to Greg’s attention. The 911 wasn’t on the market as such, but it was there for the right person. Dean decided to give Greg a call, and suggested they take a road trip to Pirongia where the car was located. Greg has owned the same car for a number of years, so was well aware of what needed attention and was able to give Dean an idea of what might be involved in bringing this example back. Once at Euro Paciic with the 911 on a hoist, Dean and Greg were able to establish that, while the car was filthy and a bit rough around the edges, it was in complete and original condition with minimal rust, and the important bits were still in place. Dean was interested, so thought he’d run it past his wife, Brigetta. Perhaps, “Hmmm, nice colour,” was the response. They managed to get the car running and decided to go for a quick drive down the road. With smoke billowing into the cabin and electric windows stuck closed, Dean decided that this was the car for him.
He did a bit more research when he got home and discovered that it had been passed around several owners, all the while never being driven — it had not been road registered since 1990. Following some brief negotiations, Dean headed back down to Pirongia to put the 911 on a trailer then drove back home. His employer, Continental Cars, was supportive of the 911 restoration and was happy for him to keep it down the back of the workshop, out of the way of customer cars.
Dean stripped the car down to a rolling shell with the intention of getting it back together following a paint job done as quickly as possible. A friend of Dean’s, Paul Gibson from Precision AutoWerk, came and had a look at the car while Dean was pulling it apart. There were some sections with corrosion from a small leak in the brake-fluid reservoir, so Paul suggested a soda blast of the area. This turned into the whole shell being done, bar the floor pan and the engine bay, which were in near-perfect condition.
By the end of the first year of ownership, Dean realized this was possibly no small project, and it would be best to do a full and proper restoration. As luck would have it, air-cooled 911 prices were beginning creep up, so, following a period of concern about how much he’d spent on the car, Dean realized that he could continue to complete the project to a very good standard without over-capitalizing on it. his was a good thing, due to not-infrequent calls from Paul mentioning little bits and pieces deep in the bodywork, that would possibly never again be accessible, that needed touching up.
Due to the amount of time — upwards of two years — the 911 spent at Precision, the company accountant even asked at one point if it was a fixed asset. It wasn’t. he fact was, according to Dean, that the Precision team members are all Porsche nuts — co-owner Brett Sommerville has a beautiful 356 Speedster sitting in the foyer — and have absolute pride in everything they do.
As the process continued, Paul chipped away when he had a spare minute between retail customers’ cars — Precision’s bread and butter is insurance work on high-end vehicles. Paul was curious as to Dean’s plans for the car, even asking him if he had any intention to enter into concours: “No way!” was Dean’s reply. Much later, after entering this event, Dean made the call to Paul to confirm that he was in fact going to do what he’d said he wouldn’t. The fact that the car was in sufficient condition to enter the event is testament to the workmanship Precision put into the build.
Meanwhile, Dean began looking at the mechanical side of things and pulled the engine ancillaries of for polishing so that they looked exactly like the original factory finish. The engine was in good enough shape that it didn’t need to be disassembled.
Concours still wasn’t on Dean’s horizon around 2013, but, once the shell was back on the car, it became very apparent that it was indeed something special. It didn’t take long for the Porsche Club to start trying to convince Dean to enter the Ellerslie event.
Once the suspension had been completely refurbished, Dean headed over to Precision to reinstall it with the help of a few of the boys — although this just turned into more of a social event. Dean ended up back at their workshop over subsequent weekends to work on the car, due to a lack of garage space at home. In appreciation for all those who had been involved in the project to this point, he held an open night in Precision’s foyer, involving pyrotechnics and a few beers.
Dean’s close mate and fellow Porsche Club member Angus Cooper was on hand to house the car for a while, as Dean still lacked space. He and Angus spent nights and weekends working on the car, and, at times, it felt as if they were taking one step forward, two steps back. Towards the final stages, Dean had to step back from the project as despondency set in. Brigetta and Angus were the ones who kept his head in the game. Soon enough, though, the project was almost done, and it was time for the first drive. Unfortunately, on getting the car out of the garage and to the bottom of Angus’ steep driveway, the gearbox refused to play ball. As Dean sat stationary in the middle of the road in his essentially brand-new 911, the rain began to fall. Some quick thinking from an old mechanical head made sure the synchros were belted into submission, and the Porsche limped back up the driveway and into the garage. Once this minor gearbox issue was sorted, the car was properly ready to go.
The year was now 2015, and the car was ready to be registered for the first time in 25 years. Dean still had the original white-on-black number plates, and, while perusing the NZTA small print, he found that he needed to write a letter to someone in the hierarchy and wait for written response. Sure enough, a couple of weeks later, he received a note from the NZTA advising him that he was OK to get the car re-registered with the original plates.
By this stage, the Porsche Club was quite insistent that the car be used for the Porsche Club of New Zealand picnic at the end of 2015 and the Ellerslie Intermarque Concours d’Elegance Teams Event in February of 2016.
Dean knew that the car had to be perfect to enter the Ellerslie event, so, on Christmas Eve, he invited some friends from the club to go over the car with a fine-tooth comb and point out anything they thought could be improved on — a bold move from a man who was so financially and emotionally involved in what was already a gorgeous car. Angus was quick to remind him that people’s critiques were a positive and meant they wanted to help. Dean spent the last couple of months prior to concours ticking of those final boxes. The week before the event, it was just the radio that was not original.
Unbeknown to Dean, Angus had taken it upon himself to track one down, and, with the help of a fellow enthusiast, he managed to do just that with days to spare. Unfortunately, the faceplate was missing, so a quick request via the internet saw Dean bombarded with the final parts of the car to help him get it across the line, such is the power of Porsche people.
The 2016 Ellerslie event was Dean’s first time as an entrant, and he’ll admit that he was a bit nervous. But all’s well that ends well, and his car played an integral part in a brilliant win for the Porsche Club in the Teams Event.
Following Ellerslie, over a couple of celebratory drinks with fellow members, one of the guys asked Dean what he was planning to restore next. Brigetta was very quick to answer on Dean’s behalf, “He’ll be restoring his relationship with his wife, thank you!” See you when you’re allowed back into the garage, Deano.
The fact that the car was in sufficient condition to enter the event is testament to the workmanship Precision put into the build.
The US dollar was on Dean’s side throughout the build, which allowed all the replacement parts and panels required to be genuine Porsche products, thereby ensuring the car was kept in completely original condition. Porsche New Zealand was more than helpful during the process, getting parts into the country for Dean.
||1970 Porsche 911E Coupé
||1958 Porsche 356A Cabriolet
||Type 546 air-cooled flat-four
||Two per cylinder, single overhead camshaft
||Two per cylinder
||115kW at 6200rpm
||44kW at 4500rpm
||191Nm at 4500rpm
||110Nm at 2800rpm
||Bosch mechanical fuel injection
||Two Zenith 32 NDIX carburettors
||Independent, torsion bar, anti-roll bar / Independent, trailing arm, torsion bar, anti-roll bar
VW parallel trailing arms, Borge telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar / VW leading arms with torsion bars, hydraulic lever-arm shock
||Ventilated-disc / Ventilated-disc