Well, the new storage area is filling up fast. We’ve got Mike C’s ’65 Coupe in there on the second rotisserie and Don R’s ’59 Coupe which just came back from the blasters. In addition, Ryan picked up an A Coupe which was hit in the front but I’m sure he can turn it into a vintage racer. There is also the back half of an A Cabriolet that I picked up for a few hundred bucks (anyone have the front half?) and all the OEM sheetmetal I bought. And of course my latest purchase, a ’56 Sunroof Coupe, fairly complete and not too bad body-wise. The ’56 came without an engine but sitting downstairs in the shop is a real nice super ’56 engine. So we will have a marriage!
Ryan has been using the storage area to prepare the ’65 Dolphin Gray Coupe I recently sold for some refit and repaint. The new owner wanted it to be a little bit better than just a driver.
We have four more 356’s to fit in the new storage area and then it will be full until we can move some cars. I also moved all the parts stored above the garage as Barb wanted some of the space for her master bath remodel. Since I’m moving parts, I’m taking time to inventory so I should have a new parts list to distribute with the newsletter in a few months.
Meanwhile, back at the shop. Tom’s ’52 Coupe has a complete new bottom and is ready to be picked up. Tom plans to do some engineering for a Type 4 engine and new tranny and we should get the 356 back for final body work.
Most of my time has been spent on Scotty’s ’53 Cabriolet. The first repair was to restore the engine compartment and tunnel/rear seat area. These areas had been cut up to fit a Corvair engine. The repair has been done but not without some struggle as the remaining engine compartment sheet metal had been bent out of shape. It took the stud gun and a come along to pull the remaining metal to fit the new inner clip. I was able to match the original Pre-A weld seams (having Tom’s ’52 sitting a few feet away helped!) and few will know this early Cab had been modified. This car also had 3/8 inch wire welded around the edges of the outer skin, around the wheel wells, across the lower nose and rockers. I’ve seen this done on sports racers so I believe this car had a race history. I also replaced the rear floor pans (preserving the unique Pre-A tunnel piece) and repaired the longitudinal, replacing the jack spurs.
Scott removed the rusted battery box floor and fit the replacement panel. I have to wait for Ryan to give me a hand with this as I can’t get my welding helmet down in there to see. I have to work within 12 inches of my weld (it’s age). While I’ve been working on Scotty’s ’53, Scott has been cutting out the battery box floor and floor pans on the shop ’64 Cabriolet. I should get these welded within a week. This C Cab had a flat piece of sheetmetal for the driver side battery box side panel. It’s supposed to have a bump out for the optional gas heater. You don’t get this piece when you order the battery box side. The Stoddard catalog says “Part is flat, not indented as original, some modification is required.” Well, the modification I’ve come up with is to shape a headlight bucket to fit. I’ve done three of these fabrications now and I get better each time. Of course you can hide minor flaws with undercoat but the idea in fabrication is to come close to factory original. I think Friedrich Weber would be proud of the bump out I fabricated for the ’64 Cab.
There have been quite a few folks added to this newsletter distribution since I last commented on the dedication to Friedrich Weber. Friedrich was the best body man at Gmund. He had formed the early aluminum 356 bodies. He did drink a lot but when sober could do more in three days than others could in five. I’ve worked on a few early 356’s and it is obvious they were built by hand. My approach is to restore 356’s to the way they were. If measurements are not symmetrical I go with what fits. The 356 may not be a show car but it will have the original character.
Develop the habit of putting lugnuts back on the brake drums after removing a wheel. Who knows where they will go when kicked around the garage.
This leads to me to a restatement of the 356RESTORE philosophy. We want to get these great cars back on the road. We prefer to do customer 356’s in stages i.e. get it back on the road, enjoy driving it, decided on improvements and continue refinements. We can do show quality work but it takes a lot more time and money than driver level restoration. We also do not do shop cars to customer specifications. We do our shop cars to my requirements and price them accordingly. I finish shop cars to the original factory paint and interior. Sometime, I would like to do a customer car to show quality restoration. This means we start with a near perfect old 356. Anybody have one (and lots of money)?