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  •   Stewart Perry reacted to this post about 10 months ago

    Car #Porsche-356A / #Porsche-356 / #Porsche

    RUN BY Alain de Cadenet
    OWNED SINCE 2005

    I rediscovered that leaving the 356 parked up and lonely was the worst thing I could have done. I had to get another 6V battery, change the hygroscopic brake fluid and seriously detail the paintwork. It was, however, tricky to use the car when one’s health is not really up to it as well. But it was so exciting to have the car back from Andy Prill, who had done a great job on the motor and set up the suspension – including camber change and toe-in adjustment. It is now spot-on.

    Meanwhile, I did a full grease-up and gave it some TLC all around. I could hardly wait to get in the magnificent old bird and try her out. The motor pulls well (all 60bhp of it) on the original single-choke #Solex-32PBIC carbs, which had endured a complete rebuild to factory specification and now enable the car to pull away with some extra low-down torque.

    Having driven another 356 at Monterey last year, I had remarked that the car handled far better than mine – only to realise that it was fitted with #Vredestein 155SR15 #Sprint-Classic-tyres . That’s tires over there, of course. Naturally I had to have some of those, but I found it tricky to source a local tyre-fitter who could handle tyres that needed inner tubes!

    Not far from the mews in Kensington – in Munster Road, Fulham, in fact – I found someone and he did a great job fitting my new ones. But he did not have a mandrel on which to mount the wheels for balancing, so now I have to find someone with an on-car balancing set-up to finish it off. These ‘A’-type 356s have Volkswagen open-centre wheels, as you may know. However, on my first outing of some 120 miles I didn’t notice any vibration to concern me at legal road speeds. Plus I happen to prefer the 155 rather than the 165 tyre size.

    There is a small difference in the rolling radius but the car feels so good and has less drag than on the 165s. It also sits well on the road, just as it did when new. I have never understood why folk want to turn these older machines into something way out-performing what they were originally, with big tyres and double or more the horsepower.

    But they do. And why shouldn’t they? It’s just not for me. The tyre-fitter also produced some small plastic collars that fit into the valve hole in the wheel rim to stop the neck of the valve chafing on the steel of the wheel. It makes sense to have these for the first time, something I was pleased to learn about and yet another trick of the trade that you can only find out from someone who knows about such things. I have a rally coming up and expect it to run as well as she did when new after all this attention.
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  •   Alain De Cadenet reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    CAR #Porsche-356 / #Porsche-356 / #Porsche
    Name Jordan Cohen
    Age 49
    From Glendale, CA, USA
    Occupation Lawyer
    First classic 1965 VW Beetle
    Dream classic That varies from month to month
    Favourite driving song An open Sebring exhaust
    Best drive AnySoCal canyon


    In complete darkness, Dirk leaned across from the passenger seat, shined his torch onto the otherwise dim odometer, and read the fast accumulating distance. He spoke calmly, as if he had done this before: “The checkpoint should be two miles ahead.” In fact, this was Dirk’s first rally and, had I looked, I would have seen that he wasn’t entirely comfortable making up time at night on such a narrow, twisting mountain road.

    Luckily, a modern Subaru – supposedly running a minute behind us – followed closely, as if not to get lost, and boasted huge lights that nicely supplemented our 6V bulbs. I could see corners that much sooner, downshifting as I dug into the brakes, and listening to the engine spit angrily, its Webers running rich at altitude. Our Porsche was in its element.

    Dirk had found her in a barn in Minnesota – a coupé with good panel gaps and an acceptable level of rust. He’d never restored a Porsche before, but had long admired old photos of bygone rallies and lusted after a 356.

    Over five years, he built the car into a focused rally machine. He did his own welding, his own mechanicals and his own paint. He searched tirelessly for the correct period parts: the late-1950s Bosch driving lights, the Carrera speedometer, the Junghans chronometer – which came from a downed Messerschmitt – the Speedster seats with period race belts, all of it.

    He fitted a 1967 912 engine, attached it to an open Sebring exhaust (just like Denis Jenkinson!), and drove it sedately to shows. Whenhe finally put the Porsche on a dynometer, he found 88 horses stamping at the rear wheels.
    Thundering down the Pearblossom Highway, we needed every one of them: “Jordan, we need more speed.” The needle was already pointing far to the right of centre, but still the Porsche gave more: “There’s the left!” Stab the brakes and shift down to second. With the exhaust screaming into the empty desert, we accelerated towards the anticipated in-marker.

    “40 seconds.” Straining our eyes into the darkness. “30.” Where is it? Dirk started counting down to our scheduled in-time: “20, 19, 18…” Towards a crest, beams peering weakly into a black sky then, “We’re on it!” Crafty officials had placed the in-marker on the far side of a low rise; we arrived 13 secs early and ate the resulting penalty.

    Driving a 356 is not new to me. I bought my first in 1996 – a champagne yellow SC in original, solid condition – and started driving it to work. Some 70,000 miles later, my mechanic announced his retirement. In response, I began to haunt classic gatherings, looking for someone with a 356 who could teach me car repair. I ran into Dirk, took a single glance at his ’59, lost my wits, and blathered something about buying his car. I must also have said something about maintaining it because I started working with him under both 356s.

    A year later, he said he was thinking of selling his. He didn’t have to ask. I wanted to run rallies and Dirk, without ever having participated in one, had built my perfect car. A week later, it was mine.

    The Porsche settled into a hollow, menacing burble as it idled on the shoulder of the road, stars reflected in whatever paint wasn’t covered by splattered bugs and road grime. We should have been sitting beside the official car at checkpoint 11, but we weren’t. Rechecking our maps and calculations, we realised that we had blown our compass bearings and had no idea where the final checkpoint had been hidden.

    Resigned to receiving the maximum penalty, I drove slowly to the restaurant that marked the end of the rally. We were tired and arrived late. Burgers in hand, watching others get their trophies, I asked the Subaru driver who had been following us for so long whether the Porsche had belched any smoke. “Dude,” he said, “in the mountains, you were spitting fire!” My perfect car indeed.

    ‘I began to haunt classic gatherings, looking for someone with a 356 who could teach me car repair’

    Clockwise: the modified 356 is now running a 912 motor; Cohen at the wheel; heading out into the Californian desert.

    Proud Cohen poses with his “perfect car” Working on it was a steep learning curve.
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  •   Basem Wasef reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    / #Porsche-356 heading back towards affordability #Porsche-356A / #Porsche-356B / #Porsche-356C

    Though the less numerous earlier 356A models are holding their end up, values of #Porsche ’s 356B and C coupés have slipped back to roughly where they were three years ago.

    That interesting nugget of information may offer some comfort to those enthusiasts who thought they’d missed the boat and would never get their hands on one. And it’s easy enough to leave the 356As to the acquisitive ‘own it but don’t use it’ crowd. In reality they’re probably not really worth the 17.5% premium they currently command.

    From the driver’s seat the later cars are actually better, and it’s hardly as if they lost much of their design purity as they grew older – unlike XKs or E-types, it could be argued. Are they going to fall any further? It’s possible, of course, but given these cars’ status and the relatively low numbers available compared to later Porsches it’s unlikely to be by any kind of shirt-losing amount. In fact if there’s a further general mid-market downswing they may even outperform it.
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