August 2003 Newsletter


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We got a call from a local 356 owner who needed a new windshield. He said his was damaged when the 356 was stolen. They own a 1961 Cabriolet. I told him how to turn off the fuel petcock or use the transmission or E-brake lock hole. But their 356 was not stolen while parked. His wife was driving and he was the passenger; the top was down. At a stop light in Cherry Creek, two thugs approached, hit his wife and pulled her from the car. He dove across the car to protect his wife, took a few hits and the crooks drove off in the 356. The car was found nearby with the engine still running. For some reason they broke the windshield; no other damage. This was the first 356 car jacking we have heard of and in Cherry Creek no less.

Another local 356 owner recently moved to Florida. He had his 356 shipped there and on his third outing got hit in the passenger side door by a SUV. He sent us pictures. In addition to the door and surrounding damage, the dash is really bent. He broke some bones, cracked some ribs and got 32 stitches in his head. He is very lucky.

(A ’61 roadster we restored years ago was hit in the driver’s door and the owner was killed.) The Florida 356 was totaled by his insurance carrier and they want $4,000 for salvage. I told him this was a fair price as he wants to keep the engine and transmission. We offered to buy the remaining parts and have the 356 transported back to Colorado.

One of our customers bought a ’51 Coupe at an estate sale in Wyoming. They trailered it down for us to evaluate. Fairly complete except for the early bumpers but very rusty and major left rear damage. But something was wrong! It had a complete T-5 (60-61) front end! Nose, fenders even front closing panels. The work was very well done. The front end appears to have been welded on at the factory seams. The problem is this modification really devalues the car. Front end sheet metal for a ’51 is very hard to find (probably why the modification was done). The front wheel openings on the ’51 is different than later 356’s as the early cars had 16 inch wheels. What was also unusual was the 356 still had the original hood (damaged) but with a T-5 handle! When I opened the door the interior light came on. The battery was still connected. The ignition switch and key were laying on the front seat but the engine turned over by hand. There was gas in the fuel filter and the tank didn’t smell of old gas. The engine may have been run recently. It is the early 1300cc, 44 horse power engine. It and the crash box transmission appear original. The owner will have a tough decision. We can restore it as is, but it will be expensive and never correct.


We are still waiting for 356s to come back. The Shop ’64 Coupe is at Autoweave. Gene’s ’60 Cabriolet is at Vern the painter. Ted’s ’61 Cabriolet is at Don the painter. Both race cars are at Bill’s. We recently disassembled a ’62 Coupe belonging to Mike and took it to Blast Tech. We know what is going to happen. All the 356s will come back at the same time! (Murphy’s Law) Priority will go to Ted’s 356 as we promised to have it done for the 356 Holiday in Taos in early October. Autoweave is helping out by ordering materials in advance. Hope we make it. Ted is really excited about having his 356 restored and being able to drive it to the holiday.

So with all the 356s out of the shop, we have been cleaning, painting, polishing, repairing all the parts to go back on Gene and Ted’s 356’s. This is an enjoyable part of 356 restoration. Making an original part work and look as good as new is fun.

Tech Tip Update

We pulled our ’63 Coupe from storage to prepare it for driving to the West Coast Holiday. We added gas and sure enough, the fuel line from the petcock leaked. Just like Barb’s Roadster last week.

We also had a fuel pump leak and found rubber particles in the pump filter. So, as mentioned before, the 7 mm German fuel line does not appear to be holding up to today’s gasoline. Check your fuel lines often and consider replacement with 5/16 fuel line.


Chuck Fishback Memorial Event is set for August 23rd in Estes Park. It is the Auto Extravaganza celebrating 100 years of automobile tourism. We will meet at the Stanley Village shopping center at ll:30 AM and caravan to lunch.