We first heard about the International 356 event in Spain about nine months ago. I had fourteen business trips to Europe prior to my early retirement but regretted I never got to Spain or Portugal. Barb said let’s check into it, and we found a round trip air fare from Denver to Barcelona for $509. That sold us! We couldn’t afford not to go.
We received early info on the event and invited our friends, the Petitts. They were excited to go and Norm wanted to see if we could use a rental car in the driving events (more later). A few faxes back and forth i.e. driving the rental, black tie banquet and we were good to go.
We had a great time before and after the event but for the newsletter I’ll concentrate on the 356 action. This was a driving event. All the 356’s were driven to the event and came from all over Europe. Over 170 356’s attended from a dozen countries plus folks from Australia, South Africa and nine couples from the USA.
As I said, this was a driving event. Registration and welcome get together was Thursday afternoon/evening. Friday and Saturday were all day (0800-1900) on the roads. One day was dedicated to a photo rally (i.e. answer questions about pictures of things you will see on the rally) and tours of local historical interest.The other day was a track event and TSD rally. All the 356’s were divided into four groups. One would do the morning and afternoon of one day and another the afternoon and morning. The other two groups would do the second day first.
The two groups each day would join up for lunch. The groups were organized by language (and I think, politics).
All the driving was in a route book i.e. mileage (miles/km) to roadsign and direction of travel. I was not familiar with this type of route book and no instructions were provided. So on our first event, the photo rally, the navigator -me- got us lost on the third instruction. We were driving an Audi A-6. Actually, Norm did all the driving. I navigated and the senoras in the back seat kept us laughing and read to us from the guide books. After getting lost we found some 356’s from another group and decided to tag along. I said let’s follow that Twin Grille Roadster and did we have a drive! Marco owns the Roadster, has attended twenty international events and is a first class driver. We chased him through the hills of Spain. Narrow roads, steep drop offs, no traffic, aggressive speed, fantastic views and more fun than you are allowed to have. We just wished we had a 356 to drive (so do the senoras) During the lunch break we got to know Marco. It turns out he owns his own auto parts business and works closely with Brad Ripley of NLA. So the first day was driving and tours of two monasteries. While the tours were guided in French (because we were in the wrong group!), the organizers arranged a private tour for us in English. The monasteries were unbelievable in size and construction but I said I’d talk about 356’s.
The second day we skipped the TSD rally in the morning to attend to clothes washing and later tour plans. I heard the rally was really tough. In the afternoon we participated in the driving event at the Calafat Race track. This is a road course similar to Second Creek. Our group was divided into three sections (we are now back with our correct group of English speaking!) for the skid pad test, gimmick autocross and track event. The skid pad was an avoidance maneuver. While it was designed for 356’s, we had three passes in the Audi and thought we did OK. The gimmick auto cross was driving around cones (forward and reverse), entering and leaving a closely fenced “garage”, throwing darts and putting golf balls. Best time plus points off for touching cones/fence and points added for darts and putting. We didn’t knock over any cones but touched the fence in the “garage” however I got a bull’s eye in darts. The final event was around the race track. You got three timed laps. Consistent lap speed not top speed would win. But you didn’t know where on the track they were recording lap times. Norm decided to go as hard as the Audi could go.
We were pleasantly surprised at the awards banquet when we won first in the skid pad (ABS really works!), second on the track (Norm is a good driver) and third in the autocross (Kellogg’s bull’s eye). This was out of 170 356’s and a few other rentals.
What surprised me was that out of the 170 356’s almost half, 67 were open cars. Mostly Cabriolets followed by Roadsters and about nine Speedsters. There were six Carreras (two with Super engines) and one 550 Spyder. The 550 had been driven in the Mille Migla the week before and was brought to the event by Bob Garetson of the USA. We followed the 550 on the track event (I’ve got some great VCR footage) and it must of inspired Norm to do so well.
I also noticed that the European 356’s are more “personalized” than USA 356’s. Almost all the factory and after market options were seen on the European 356’s. There were four sets of Rudge Knock off wheels and lots of steering wheels and mirror combinations. In general I found most of the European 356’s to be drivers (which they are) there were very few concours cars. The event was held at Salou which is a resort complex south of Barcelona. When the 356’s arrived at the hotel on Thursday a wash area was available and then the cars were parked on the promenade by the beach in front of the hotel. It was great to see so many 356’s all together. I had planned to get up early Sunday morning and take lots of pictures of individual 356’s but the “tourist two step” caught me and by the time I recovered most of the cars had left the promenade.
I mentioned Marco, the Twin Grille Roadster driver. He pointed out a ’60 Roadster to me that was all original, even the Ruby Red paint. The 356 had been in the Stoddard collection for eighteen years, then Marco owned it prior to selling it to the present owner.
I also met Peter from Denmark. Peter runs a “Danish 356RESTORE”. He only restores 356’s and presently owns about thirty project cars. He has a great shop with plenty of storage, although his wife Mette says he does have a few in her garden. Peter buys cars in the USA, restores them and sells them. He has a mix of buyers including some collectors. He presently has a Carrea Speedster for sale. He showed me pictures; it’s a beautiful 356 restoration. We have invited Peter and Mette to visit us next year and hopefully attend Monterey. Peter has an interest in locating to the USA.
We also met Tom and Beverly from San Diego. They were on their honeymoon and included Salou in their travels. It turns out they are neighbors of John Jenkins! They encouraged us to attend the 356 Holiday in San Diego in October that John has planned.
There was not much time to interact with the European participants. Most of them stayed in country groups which did not seem to interact with other groups. Plus the long driving days did not leave much time to stand around and BS as we do at our Holidays.
Back at 356RESTORE. Webb flew out from New York and picked up his ’64 Coupe. He had a few electrical problems on his drive back to Illinois where he will store the 356 until his son is 16. His son is now four!
Bruce’s Convertible D went to the upholstery shop and should be back in a month. Les’s C Coupe came in for jack spurs, longitudinal repair, front struts and closing panels. I hope to get this done this week as Ron’s car was painted in Cheyenne and is due back. Plus Jack’s ’64 Coupe should also be coming back from the paint shop and I need to schedule Peter’s Karman Notchback. For relaxation I’ll start assembly on Dr. Jack’s 356.
356’S FOR SALE
The Twin Grille Roadster that Roland restored and I evaluated for a California buyer did sell at a fair price in the forties. I sold the Shop ’57 Coupe for my asking price and a friend thinks he has a buyer for the Shop ’64 Cab. This friend likes to detail Porsches so he stores the Shop cars for me and makes them shine. Anything he can get over my asking price he keeps. I get contacted monthly about 356’s for sale and will mention them in the newsletter as space permits. Les needs to sell Herbie, (Dave Scott’s driver). Tom T wants to sell his project ’51 Coupe (I did the metal work). Dan in Texas has a beautifully restored ’63 Super 90 Coupe for sale and I believe Kent in Salt Lake City still has one of the most perfect SC Coupes I’ve ever seen for sale. I prefer not to mention last names or prices in the newletter so call for info. I also do not want to broker 356’s.
In the past I ‘ve commented on the quality of 356 parts. Recently I’ve seen an improvement in aluminum decos but there are still problems with rubber seals. Also, more parts are becoming no longer available. I’ve mentioned the windshield problem. Now you can’t get T-6 interior lights. Motor mounts will no longer be available and I haven’t seen rubber strap hooks in years. I continue to get calls on 6 to 12 volt converters as people want to up grade their radios. I sold all my Radio Shack units. Does anyone have a source for 6 to 12 volt converters? You don’t have to spend big bucks for parts; many can be restored. One of my customers saved over $100 by cleaning and painting his emblems. He found a brass paint at Hobby Lobby that made his emblems look like original.