April 2006 Newsletter

Folks seem to enjoy this newsletter. It has been going out for fourteen years. I’ve often said that folks may not get letters from their family very often but they do get news from 356RESTORE monthly.

This newsletter is received by 323 folks with an interest in the Porsche 356. Seventy two of these are received via E-mail which saves $346 a year in postage. The downside of E-mail is if you change E-mail servers, your newsletter bounces and we may not know who you are. Who is BIGDOG356?

If you receive this newsletter via mail and change addresses, the Post Office charges 75 cents for address correction. The newsletter expense is not a big deal as it is our primary advertising and is a business expense.

Due to a request in the newsletter that we needed parts, we have been able to buy some nice collections of used parts recently. Some of these parts are already on 356s that we are restoring. So let us know of 356 parts for sale.

Years ago, I wrote an article on 356 part prices and recently updated it. I have parts catalogs back to 1978. I had what I called a basket of parts including a rocker/threshold assembly, a bumper guard, Speedster side curtains, a shifter boot, a teardrop taillight and a wiper blade.

The price of these parts in 1978 was $290; in 2006 it is $634. However, the price peaked in the early 1990s at $727. So due to the increasing interest in the 356 and vendor competition, 356 parts have not shown the drastic increase that we have seen in 356 vehicle prices.

The Speedster side curtains went from $90 to $252. The bumper guard went from $55 to $152 and is now at $119. The teardrop taillight went from $22 to $190 and is now at $80.

We paid the high price for bumper guards and taillights and were happy to see them return to reasonable prices. We have never bad mouthed the price or quality of 356 parts, as without the parts we would be out of business.

The 1957 Carrera 1500 GS sunroof Coupe sold and is going to England where it will be run in vintage rallies. It sold for a fair price for its condition and I am pleased it will be used and not in a museum. When Trevor came by to do the final adjustment to the carburetors, that sweet Carrera engine sound almost made me change my mind. It was my first Porsche.

We took the Shop ’57 Speedster to Don the painter and it will be the original color Signal Red. Most all the parts are ready to go back on the Speedster when it is painted and then to Autoweave for a black top and interior. Trevor is doing the tranny and Al Lager the engine.

When we dropped off the Speedster at the painters, we picked up Rob’s ’59 Cabriolet painted its original Ivory color. Rob’s Cab will not go together as quickly as the Speedster as many parts are missing and those that came with the Cab all need work.

BJ is doing the metal work on the Shop ’57 Sunroof Coupe. He is taking pictures as he goes as the restoration will be featured in the second edition of our 356 restoration book.

I’ve been doing the reassembly of the Shop Silver ’59 Coupe. This is the mild outlaw 356 we did for a customer who did not have time to finish it and sold it to us. It has the gas filler in the hood, a fuel safe tank, nerf bars and headlight grilles. We will do the interior in red. This 356 has received favorable comments from visitors to the shop. The mild outlaw look is compatible with the look of factory prepared 356 race cars.

We sold that ’63 chassis that we recently bought, it will be used by a vintage racer to rebuild his 356 race car that spun and backed into a wall at a local track. We will keep the engine, transmission and the few parts that came with the chassis. The engine along with two others we recently purchased will be used in project cars as needed.

Buying engines is a crap shoot. Until they are torn down and inspected, you don’t know what you have. While we are not a mechanic and don’t follow engine part prices we do know that a 356 engine rebuild that once cost $2,000 now can cost $7,000. The most important aspect of 356 engine rebuilding is the rebuilder. We strongly recommend Trevor Sewell for 356 engine work. Trained in England, his knowledge of the 356 mechanicals is outstanding and he is willing to share his knowledge. Plus, he races a 356 and is fast!

Most of you know we have cut back on customer work to finish our Shop 356s. One of our previous customers recently bought Speedster 80013 (the thirteenth built) and wants us to restore it. The deal: time at his recently built home in Kona, Hawaii in exchange for restoration work. Sounds good to me!

Grandpa News
Alex is getting very good at words. “Grampa” is her favorite! She also speaks in baby talk in phrases with inflection and repeats what you say, so we have to be very careful what we say.