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.
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!
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.