March 2011 Newsletter

While Barb and I were on vacation (a great relaxing time) BJ was able to complete the metal work on the Shop ‘58 Cabriolet. He also finished the bottom clean, paint, caulk and undercoat on a ‘65 Coupe which we had previously restored and had painted Signal Red. The owner had issues with his hands and was unable to do this work as planned. BJ didn’t mind doing this work as he charged it at the shop rate rather than his hourly rate.

The Oklahoma Twin Grille Roadster was at the painters and he called as he saw a minor problem once the Roadster was in paint. We went and checked it out and agreed there was a low spot behind the driver door. This was not seen when we did the dry fit on the Roadster in primer. We probably should have “stringed” the 356. This is a trick Tom Conway showed us years ago. You mark off one inch increments vertically at the rear and front of the 356. Then you tape a string from front to rear. The string should lay flat along the sides of the 356 with just a slight break at the door gaps. Any how, the painter fixed the Roadster and finished it just prior to our vacation. He used a new black paint that even with the single stage is very glossy. The body work and paint alone should sell the 356. But we have to reassemble it and started on this after the vacation. This is going pretty fast as we had dry fit everything before final paint.

However, you can still can make a mistake. We started with the front compartment and cleaned off the wet sanding residue and then we did a final paint with semi gloss. We installed the fuel tank, fuse cover and windshield washer bottle. The last item to install was the gaskets around the fuel tank neck that secures it to the chassis. The two metal and one rubber gaskets are secured by four screw that go into nut plates on the metal gaskets. Two screws are secured from the inside and two screws from under the fender. We put on of the metal gaskets on backwards and had to remover everything and start over. Of course it went faster the second time. We will reassemble the interior compartment next then all the exterior items and finish with the engine installation.

Porsche 356 History
Since there was not a lot of progress due to the vacation we will review the Porsche 356 history. Some of you may not be aware of this and its importance to Porsche today. Ferdinand (Ferry) Porsche moved the design firm to Gmund Austria after World War II. They survived by repairing cars and farm equipment. At this time Ferdinand Senior was still interned in France. Ferry had an excellent designer Erwin Komerda and body builder Karl Rabe. Together they designed and built a Grand Prix racing car the “Cisitalia” for an Italian industrialist. The funds from the “Cisitalia” allowed Ferdinand Senior to be ransomed from the French jail but he was in ill health.

Erwin Komenda designed Porsches first sports car based on the knowledge gained from the Volkswagen project. The sports car was designated 356 as it was the 356th project in the Porsche engineering logbook. (When Porsche started the engineering logbook they started with project seven, not project one so customers would not think they were the first)

In the spring of 1948 a Roadster based on Komenda’s design was produced . It had an aluminum body and a 1131 cc motor based on a Volkswagen but with Porsche improvements particularly in the heads. It produced 40hp. It was mid engine which was great for performance but left little luggage space for a touring sports car. As additional aluminum 356s were produced the engine was moved to the rear. The aluminum bodies of these early 356 were hand formed over wooden bucks. The best body man was Fredrich Weber to whom this newsletter is dedicated.

The first 356 coupe was finished in early 1950. The early 356s were raced with some success by private owners. Porsche raced in the 1951 24 Hours of Lemans and brought home a class victory. With these racing successes, the 500th Porsche was produced in 1951. They were produced by the body builder firms Reuther and Glaser. Porsche did the final assembly and checkout. Racing classes and their progression led to the 1000cc,1300cc and 1500cc engine development with horsepower of 40,44,55,60 and 70. These horsepower numbers were DIN (German) and not SAE(American and higher) and also conservative due to insurance rules. In 1952 a reduced weight aluminum convertible was produced. Fifteen were made and called the American Roadster. This, a few years later, was the basis for the Speedster in metal but it was still light weight and had a very competitive performance. Porsche really didn’t want to produce the Speedster but did so at the pleading of Max Hoffman, the U.S. distributor, and some east coast racers. In fact, once Speedster production declined, Porsche went back to the taller windshields, roll up windows, cigar lighters and radios. This was the Convertible D and Roadster. At this time body builders included Reutter, Drauz, Karmann and D’Ieteren. Porsche bought out Reutter the last body builder in 1964 and all production was Porsche. 79,316 Porsche 356s had been produced.

Grandpa News
We were informed that Alex would appreciate some chocolate candy kisses with macadamia nuts from our vacation. Barb tried Safeway, Longs Drug, ABC store, Whalers, Waialea market without success. The airport gift shop was also out but thought the gift shop after security might have them. Nope! But the last gift shop before our departure gate had them!!