While waiting for the Shop ’61 Coupe to come back from the painter and BJ’s ’64 Coupe to come back from Autoweave, we spent most of our time on the Carbondale Cab and the Shop ’52 Race car. The Carbondale Cab is a ’60 Cabriolet that was abandoned and stripped in years past and then removed from a field on a Police tow. The tow shop owner gave the Cabriolet to his brother. He called me last year and I said we were too busy and to call after the first of the year, which he did. I was still busy and he said when? I said February 15th. So February 15th the phone rings and he is on his way! I expected to schedule the 356, not receive it! Anyhow, it arrived on a trailer and it was a mess! Every panel was damaged except for the right rear fender which was OK but brazed in and too tight to the rear lid (which was missing).
So we disassembled what was there; not much as instruments, seats, interior, engine and soft top were missing. Off to Blast Tech to blast everything. They use plastic media to get down to metal and then sand to remove rust. About $900 to do the whole car except suspension (which is covered with grease and won’t blast off).
After blasting, I did the evaluation and since every panel needs repair or replacement, the total is close to $7,000. The customer has no problem as he got the 356 for free. He and I go over future costs and it looks like we can restore the Cab and still be under market value. Of course, this will not be a show car. We will be able to provide seats, instruments, gas tank (plenty of holes in his) and other parts. At the same time, Tom Conway wanted to sell lots of 356 sheet metal parts that had been on the shelves too long. So I had most of the sheet metal needed.
The first step is to square the 356. When I took it to Blast Tech I welded in a steel brace from the dash to the rear as the car was bending in the middle. When it came back we fit the doors (really rusted out) and welded on the hardtop which came with the car. We also repositioned the steel brace so the 356 Cab wouldn’t open up.
Then I repaired the inner longitudinals and tunnel areas to provide a shelf for the floor pans. We did the rear pan first; and after positioning and trimming, it went in perfect on the first try! As an aside, when we fit the doors I expected problems as they were removed at the hinge. We had to knock out the hinge pins and this can be tough on a rusted 356. So after soaking with my favorite penetrating oil, BJ straddled the door and I had the drift and big hammer. All four pins came out on the first blow. BJ said, “Dad, this 356 is talking to us; it wants to be restored”.
Next was the front pan; it took two tries but went in perfect. This 356 is really talking to us. So on to the diagonal, but of course the left lower front sway bar bracket is gone. So repair that then the diagonal, then the front struts, then the battery box floor. Fortunately the battery box sides and bumper mounts were OK.
Next was the front closing panels; the lower half on each. We had them in stock. After this was the longitudinals; again straight forward. Next is the threshold/rocker. This gets tricky, you have to have flush fitting doors to position the threshold. The doors for this 356 were way too bad. I found one good Coupe door and one fair Cabriolet door in my stock. With these fitted I could tack in the threshold/rocker. We have to tack it as we may need to make changes when we repair the outer skin.
On to the rear closing panels but first the rear struts need repair. Rear closing panels in, it’s time to do all the finishing welding. I like to simulate spot welds on the upper floor pan but seam weld underneath. So a day on my back with a heavy helmet with weld pools wanting to sag. Could this be a new Olympic sport? Thank God for the hot tub!
While I have a rotisserie, I haven’t used it in years. I don’t mind welding upside down and think we get a better result if the 356 is on its suspension.
So the bottom is done and next is the exterior skins. Bill Frey gave me a Cabriolet rear deck lid and I had one last T-5 hood left. Of course the hood needs repair at the hinge breaks. With the lids and doors fit the exterior repairs are moving along. Should be done in a few weeks.
During this time, BJ spent hours doing the block sanding on the ’52 Race car. He did a great job and we will go right to primer and silver paint. We will drop this 356 off at the painter when we pick up his ’64 Coupe at Autoweave.
During this period we also charged up the batteries and got Barb’s Twin Grille Roadster, my ’63 Sunroof Coupe and Shop ’56 Speedster on the road. When we started the Speedster we blew a mouse nest out the exhaust.
We also attended my son Patrick’s graduation at CUBA Boulder. He got his Masters in Computer Science. Now the 356RESTORE website will get on line.
Don’t forget WestFest 2001! It is June 16th and 17th. Track time Saturday and Swap Meet, show and picnic Sunday. Call (303) 494-7281 for details.