25th Anniversary Newsletter

25th Anniversary!
Its been 25 years since we started 356Restore. It’s time for reflection. Our past newsletters and website allow us to review our progress in getting these great cars back on the road. We have restored one hundred and twenty two 356s. Either a battery box floor or a full restoration and everything in between.
Jim had always had a interest in cars. When he got his driver’s license the first thing he did was shave the nose and pin stripe the family ‘52 Chevrolet. He wrote a car column for the San Diego High School newspaper (and dated the editor-see side bar).
After the Air Force Jim took a job in software management with Control Data in St. Paul, Minnesota. One of his programmers shared his enjoyment of cars. The programmer bought a ‘57 Coupe and Jim noticed it was right hand drive, had holes in the floor and gas was dripping under the dash. Jim eventually bought the 356 which by then had a flat floor welded in. The 356 turned out to be a Carrera GS with a bent sunroof. It did not have a Carrera engine. Details on this 356 can be found in an article written for the 356 Registry. (Check the magazine archives). After some rough repairs Jim traded the ’57 Carrera for a ’63 Sunroof Coupe. Jim participated in the restoration of this 356 under the tutelage of an experienced 356 restorer. The ’63 is Jim’s daily driver today and will be passed on to his son BJ.
Jim enjoyed 356 restoration work and his next project was a ’62 Twin Grille Roadster which became his wife Barbara’s daily driver.
Then Control Data began to downsize and eventually went out of business. Jim found a job with a subsidiary in Denver. After five years it too began to downsize. Jim took an early retirement. What to do? Jim had enjoyed restoring and driving the Porsche 356s and decided to start a business-356Restore.
After more than twenty five years, we are still learning about these cars. The design was unique and engineering excellent. The factory didn’t plan for these cars to last fifty plus years but that design and engineering speaks for itself.
Of the 122 356 we have restored, thirty three were shop cars. These were projects planned to be restored by the owner but never completed. In the seventies you could buy a project 356 for a thousand dollars or less. 356Restore would later buy these projects for two to four thousand dollars and restore them. Finding sheet metal panels in the early days was difficult and we learned to fabricate panels. Most of these project 356s came with extra parts which has contributed to our inventory of parts today.
Many of these project owners were “gearheads” and bought lots of engine and mechanical parts. 356Resotre has never done engine rebuilding or painting. These two activities take time and by subbing this work we were able to restore the number of 356s we did in twenty five years.
On our website-356Restore.com we have a list of all completed 356s, That is how we determined the following data:
· Of the 122 356’s 83 were Coupes
· Thirteen of the 83 Coupes were Sunroof Coupes
· Of the 83 Coupes, 27 were 1964 models
· We restored a 356 from every year from 1952 to 1965
· We restored ten Speedsters but only one Notchback and one Carrera
· Seven Roadsters were restored including two Twin Grille Roadsters
· Sixteen Cabriolets were restored.

The Shop
When we started 356Restore we hired a helper. Ryan an Ex Army Ranger in his twenties. He had experience restoring Sunbeam Tigers with his Dad. Ryan made some great contributions even fabricating a Pre-A fender when
they were not available. At one time, we moved from our home shop to a bigger facility and had additional part time help. Jim didn’t want to be an owner/manager. He wanted to do hands on 356 restoration, so he moved back to the home shop. BJ moved to Denver in 1999 and joined Jim at 356Restore. BJ learned to weld, fabricate body work and reassembly of 356s. After learning those skills we bought a ‘64 Coupe project and Jim said “It’s all yours”. BJ did all of the disassembly, metal work, bodywork and reassembly. Jim only consulted. When finished BJ had the option to sell. He decided to keep it and it is his daily driver. The biggest shop move was recent when we designed and moved into a new home/shop. A little less room but a new lift, a quiet air compressor and good organization.

Vintage Racing
Barb and Jim participated in a Canyonlands tour with other sportscars. Sort of a mini Colorado Grand. On the tour was a ’57 356 Coupe painted in the colors of the Mexican flag; cream with green and red stripes. It had raced in the Southwest but had a few problems on the tour. Later when Bill Frey and Jim were at Steamboat Vintage Races we saw the ‘57 was for sale. Bill, who raced in SCCA in the seventies said we could make it into a racecar, which we did. We both joined Rocky Mountain Vintage Racing (RMVR) and went to Drivers School. Bill was the better driver and we both drove at tracks like Second Creek, Mountain View, Stapleton, LaJunta and Pueblo. Bill drove at Steamboat and set the fastest time of the day when he was erroneously black flagged and came in and went out only driving half the course.
At Drivers School, Sunday was the first race. Saturday had been follow the leader, practice starts and red flag procedures. Jim was on the grid with five
minutes to the start when he heard a noise, he looked to his left and saw a sports racer with a loud exhaust on the right side. Must be the exhaust noise. On the track, we took the green flag. Jim passed two cars and finished the twenty minute race. Pulling off the track Jim heard the noise again; stopping and popping the rear lid you could see the lower pulley moving in and out. Jim had raced for twenty minutes, passed cars and did this with a broken crankshaft!
BJ’s wife Jennifer also attended Driver’s School and raced the ‘57 Coupe in the Ladies Group. Most of the ladies drove their husbands or boyfriends cars so you got a mix of cars from Mini Coopers to Corvettes.
Previous newsletters have documented how we found the ‘52 Coupe for $800 which was to become our next racecar. Bill Frey and Jim did a great job on this 356. We got the weight down by making Plexiglas windshields and removing extraneous items. We weighted it on the scales at Pueblo and it came in at 1,640 lbs. And of course we built a better race engine. Both Bill and Scot Petitt drove this 356 in some exciting races.

In the past twenty five years, Barb and Jim have participated in sixteen 356 Holidays. We would usually drive Jim’s ‘63 Sunroof Coupe or Barb’s ‘62 Twin Grille Roadster. A few we flew to or trailered..
The most memorial Holiday was Santa Fe in 2013. Over 200 356s’ and a great venue.
BJ and Jim have attended all five Porsche Rennsports and plan to attend number six next September. The most unforgettable Rennsport was number five in Monterey. The factory provided lots of cars, in fact we have possibly seen most of the factory museum cars at Rennsports.
We have also attended most of the local charity concours showing many 356s and also judging. One thing we always did was let kids sit in the 356 for pictures; except that kid with the ice cream cone.
The most enjoyable and unforgettable 356 related event was the inaugural US. Vintage Racing National Championship at Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas in 2013. Jim, Bill Frey and Scot Petitt entered Jim’s ‘52 Coupe with a fresh engine by Bill. With Scot driving, we beat Vic Skirmants, and six other 356s plus five 911s and two 914-6s in the Enduro. We detailed this event in our newsletter, but it is worth reading again (check out our website for all the 356Restore newsletters for the past twenty five years).

The Book
Jim has always enjoyed writing and decided to write a book about what he had learned restoring the Porsche 356. This was a risk as there were many Porsche 356 restorers that could be critical of the book.
We had been in the habit of taking pictures of our restorations so we had a good start to illustrating a book. We were also usually working on two 356s at different stages of restoration so we could add illustrations.
The book was organized from the start of a project to the first test drive. It was titled “Porsche 356 Guide to Do-It-Yourself Restoration”. The first edition was published in 2004. The cover arranged by the publisher was unique; a picture of a young man sitting behind a project 356 reading the book (a picture within a picture). Many people asked us if the young man was BJ; it wasn’t , just a friend of the photographer.
The book was well received; all positive comments , never a criticism.

The book is used by both beginning restorers and body shops.
The book went out of print and Jim decided to do a second edition in 2009. Writing the first edition Jim got to a point of “Lets just wrap this up and see if it sells”. For the second edition, Jim spent more time on reassembly and the cost of restoration. The book continues to be appreciated and has sold over 4,000 copies.

356 Restoration
There is a lot of satisfaction restoring a Porsche 356. The process of disassembly is fun. On an unrestored 356 you can find factory chalk marks, paint brush strokes and different assembly techniques. On project 356s you can find traffic signs and related signs used as floor pans. Not to mention the chicken wire/bondo and expanding foam repairs. Organizing the parts during disassembly and determining which parts can be restored or replaced lets you know that you are moving forward. After media blasting, metal work is also enjoyable. To remove a piece of rusty metal, make a correct patch and do a great job welding the patch is very satisfying. The next phase-body work is demanding and perhaps less enjoyable. Getting the lid and door fit can take time and many repetitions. Then there is the sculpting of the body. You need bright lights and a good eye for this. It is also repetitive. At 356Restore we would take the body to 80 grit and let the painter make it perfect. A good experienced 356 painter can really improve the body work. Before the painter, you have to dry fit all the external parts. This is also enjoyable as you can see the 356 becoming an almost finished car. Then comes reassembly, the most enjoyable part of 356 restoration. Taking you time, making it just like the factory. Ending each day with a

After the mechanical work is done and then the real fun begins, driving a Porsche 356.
feeling of accomplishment.
There is one downsize to 356 restorations. That is the “know it all” customers. Some can be quite critical and taught us to ask “What are your expectations?”. If they want concours level for a cheap price, we say no and explain the time and money required for a concours level We do driver level and some of these 356s have won concours. It all depends what you start with.

The Future
So what’s ahead for 356Restore? Well, Jim is 76; his cataract surgery means he has to wear glasses for the close work. Glasses under a welding helmet is difficult, so Jims leaves most of the heavy welding to BJ. Jim misses laying down that perfect welding bead and the noise that accompanies a good weld. At 76 Jim doesn’t get up and down easily and there is a lot of up and down work when reassembling a 356. The new lift will solve this problem but with eight 356s in the shop, we will have to finish some to use the lift when needed. What will probably happen is Jim will turn the shop over to BJ and take on a consulting role and skip the up and down reassembly fun. Jim may also get into the parts business. To date our large inventory of used parts have been for 356Restore projects and sales to friends. We really don’t need 42 valve covers.

Favorite Story Side Bar
Not 356 related.
We mentioned earlier that we dated the editor of our high school newspaper. She moved out of town early in our senior year but we still asked her to our senior prom.
Jump ahead three years. Jim is working his way thru college at a Pizza Parlor. If Jim wants a Saturday night date, he has to open the pizza place for the Saturday lunch crowd. So there he is all alone anticipating the light lunch crowd, when he hears some noise. He looks out the front window and sees twenty Hells Angles backing their bikes to the curb. They all want beer and pizza but Jim can’t do both. One of the Hells Angles says he will pull the pitchers and Jim notes that he is doing a honest job. So Jim starts making pizzas: taking an order Jim looks up and there she is; his prom date is a Hells Angels Mama.

July 2017 Newsletter

356 Hobby or Market?
An observation after the L.A. Lit and Swap Meet was that things have changed. We think the hobby has turned into a market. It is like that neighborhood hardware store that is no more. The folks knew hardware, knew how it was used and how to make things work. Now there is a “big box” feel to the 356 hobby. Lots of choices for parts you don’t need and people who don’t know. Years ago as a hobby there was PB Tweeks, Doc&Cys, NLA and Stoddard. Now there are over 35 parts vendors on the 356 vendors list.
As the number one listing on the vendors list we continue to field 356 calls and E-mails. There are folks looking for 356 projects. We tell them they are too late to the party, that project prices have tripled or quadrupled and most projects are rust buckets, we would have parted out years ago they are discouraged. Other calls are for 356s to buy, when we tell them 356 values, they are also discouraged. We have received few calls from sellers. We have heard that a seller will get a call and be immediately asked “Is it number matching?” If they say no, the caller hangs up.
So we get a call form a broker in New York asking if we have any 356s for sale. We say we have nine 356s and some are or will be for sale. He asks for pictures and BJ sends him pictures of all nine 356s.
The owner calls and says he knows me but I can’t place him but we have helped some New York folks buy 356s and he may have been involved. The owner focuses in on the Twin Grille roadster. We let him know there were only 249 produced by the Belgium coachbuilder D’Iteren who we consider to be the best 356 coachbuilder. We also let him know that Twin Grille Roadsters seldom come on the market; the last one we saw was at European Collectables for $200,000. We say our price is $170,000 as the 356 requires a repaint.
We send him a COA showing our 356 is number matching with the original engine. He focuses in on the fact that the Roadster does not have the headrest shown on the COA. He offers $125,000. We respond that headrests are available from vendors and that all the 356 seats have provisions for headrests and again point out the rarity and value of these 356s. All of this is being done by E-mail. We get the impression he has lined up a buyer. He increases his offer to $150,000. It’s time for us to do our due diligence. We contact Jeff Frazier a classic car broker in Nashville who had done business with us in Denver (he sold our ’57 GS Carrera). He indicates the Porsche market is flat and he is having difficult selling his inventory. He says he will get back to us after checking with his 356 contacts.
He gets back to us and says the $150,000 offer is strong and he may have some potential buyers for the Roadster. We receive no other offers for the Roadster so we accept the $150,000 offer. We send a copy of the title, they prepare a bill of sale, we both sign it and the funds are transferred to the 356Restore account. Twin Grille Roadster 89621 is sold!
This was our third restoration twenty five years ago. Our first 356 was the ‘57 Carrera and our second one our ‘63 Sunroof Coupe (promised to BJ). We have restored and sold 33 356s. Our motivation for selling the Roadster was that our truck had been parked outside for the last year and we wanted to get it inside for the winter.

Parts Market
We followed up on the 356 parts in Maui and there has been no movement. We offered $5,000 and she wanted $20,000 for the lot. We will see if we can cherry pick on our next vacation in February.
Then we get a call on more 356 parts. It seemed the seller was acting for an estate as he needed multiple offers. We made a fair offer on the parts and then he said they found some chassis pieces and sent a picture of a 356 NOS front chassis, battery box, front
suspension supports and panel under the fuel tank. We said these would be of interest to 356 restorers. He contacted them and got some offers but accepted ours. We are making arrangements for shipping and he indicates he will deliver them to Denver while on vacation; and then things stop. Again , all of this is been done by E-mail (we used to call and talk and tell stories and get to know each other-hobby or market?). We try E-mail contact but get no response and think we have been gammed. We have been gammed in the past (again because of E-mail). The seller has responded and perhaps we can deal. We do sell parts to local enthusiasts but the procedures have changed. Parts to be bought are put on the work bench and I tell the buyer we can’t establish a price until we do some research. 356 parts prices today are a commodity market. Awhile back a buyer needed a T-5/T-6 turn signal switch. We had six and two looked like they worked. We did research and found reproductions in the $300’s. We sold the switch for $250. recently we got a E-mail from Stoddard and their T-5/T-6 turn signal switch is now $736!

Grandpa News
Alex and Sammy are moving. BJ and Jen have built a new house and will finally have space. The girls used to be here every Wednesday to do homework before church youth group meeting to save the twelve mile drive home and back. Now they will only be a few miles from school and church. We will miss the Wednesday get together.
After twenty five years this monthly newsletter is now sent when we have something to say. Notice we no longer have address correction requested. This saves us fees and return postage but means if you change address we won’t know.

March 2017 Newsletter


Parts 1

We mentioned previously about the guy in Maui that had some 356 parts for sale. He had sent us pictures by phone and we sent him an E-mail indication specific information needed about the parts to determine their value. We needed to know serial numbers, condition and qualities. Well, the guy didn’t use the internet and didn’t get back to us. So, we called and said we would check out the parts when we were on vacation.
Maui Roadster was the name of the company and they rented replica Speedsters near our rented condo. We didn’t see them when we drove in, so we called and discovered they had moved. We found them in the used car section of Maui and renting one of their plastic Speedsters was now done by appointment. Turns out they guy that sent us pictures was the mechanic and was brokering the parts for the owner.

We set up an appointment to see the parts and was told the owner had some early dementia problems and also owned a real Speedster that was not for sale. We arrived and the parts had been placed on the lawn. We were able to get further information on the parts. There were some NOS Coupe doors still in the box from Vasic Pollak. There was part of a Speedster windshield frame and a Speedster top frame which we were told had been cut down to fit a 550 (didn’t make sense). There was a really clean A gas tank with the correct sender, A C-2 rear valance and Carrera speedometer plus lots of other parts. So we looked at them all and commented on issues and what kind of value. It was obvious the wife was in charge and really didn’t understand 356 parts. The husband seemed OK and knew most of the parts history. So we completed our evaluation and asked what they wanted for the parts. The wife said a fixed price for the lot was $20,000.
We said we would do our research when we returned home and give them our offer. I took a quick look at their ’57 Speedster which looked real nice but didn’t comment on it.

We enjoyed the rest of our vacation although the weather was mixed and the whales not to active. I did catch a really nice fish about ten pounds and a pretty pink color.

So we got home and we started the research. We used the 356 Registry classifieds and two vendors parts list. We soon learned we could estimate value based on the price of a reproduction part. Many 356 parts are being reproduced. While door skins are reproduced and used doors available you have to guess at NOS value. The doors would not be original to a 356 (unless stamped which is something we don’t do and would take a whole newsletter to discuss). We figured $800 for each NOS door. The owner’s wife thought the Carrera speedometer had high value even after we explained that you could send a speedometer to Palo Alto Speedometer and they would set it to Carrera specifications and make a Carrera face plate for it. So we added up all the values and called Maui with our offer of $5,000 and explained our research. We haven’t heard back, we will give it a few more weeks and see what happens.

Parts 2

BJ and I used to drive out to the big swap meet in Los Angles held in February. We would take a pick up load of parts and do quite well. Plus we would stop in Las Vegas on the way. We stopped going when we realized a part we needed for a restoration had been sold at the swap meet.
BJ suggested we fly out and also stop by in Las Vegas. BJ enjoys Las Vegas as he runs a full or half marathon there often. He has become a Las Vegas expert plus he said we could see the Penn and Teller magic show which he knew I would enjoy. Prior to the swap meet is the literature meet at the LAX Hilton on Saturday. Being close to the airport, buyers fly in from all over. The Lit meet is more than just books, posters and workshop manuals. It also include small 356and other parts.

There is a huge crowd for this event so venders located in the Los Angles area hold open houses the day before. We flew in Thursday night and hit many of the open houses Friday. Note; you have to have a smart phone and a app to find your way around L.A. We were surprised at the large warehouses many of the vendors had. They are not just selling 356 parts but also 911 and other Porsche parts. All the open house had free food and drink and giveaways.

At the Lit meet you can enter at seven o’clock for $30 or nine o’clock for $10. We opted for nine o’clock and two huge ballrooms were packed. We say Jerry Seinfeld enter, see the huge crowds and leave. BJ and I were only looking for two 356 parts plus I was checking out part prices. We were looking for male hood latches for 356A and B. We have had many requests and had sold out. We only saw one hood latch at the Lit meet and it was priced at $200. Maybe we would have better luck at the swap meet the next day. When we would drive out , the swap meet was held at the Dunkle Brothers large lot and it was exclusively 356 parts. Now it is held at a new location and like the Lit meet it is a huge event. Along with the swap meet there is a car show. Here is where we have an issue, both events have opened up to early 911 and VW parts. Not surprisingly as many 356 owners also own VWs and 911s. But for us , this has diluted the events. We found one male latch at the swap meet for $127. We came back later and offered $100. He said no $127. This summarized our thoughts-not the way it used to be.

Grandpa News

Sammy figured out how to order on Amazon remote control cars by using the one click and buy feature. Not any more.