The Fun Begins…

Story and Photos by Bren Hirschberg

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The fifth chapter in the ongoing saga of 356 Restoration is here! The car is home now, all metal and paint work is finished. I will tell you, even though it took seven months, the accomplishment and end results are extraordinary!! Alan Martino, at Deschutes County Custom, did a SUPERB job – definitely worth the time invested- the guy is an absolute miracle worker. Alan estimates that around 50% of the car is new metal. We had to replace all the lower 6 inches of the car, plus the nose, hood, roof, bumpers, battery box and many wheel well and interior panels. The stuff that didn’t need replacing needed repair. All the doors and deck lids had to be reworked to get the gaps right and the surfaces smooth. But, as Shakespeare said, “All’s well that ends well”!

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Once the metal work was done, it was smoothed, body worked, “skinned”, smoothed again, epoxy paint applied to all bare metal, seam sealed, primed twice with different compounds, sanded in between each coat, and then finally painted. I had obtained the Certificate of Authenticity from Porsche so I could put it back to the way it had originally been two other paint jobs ago. It was originally “Silver Metallic, #5706” with black leatherette interior. I decided to use the original paint formula even though many silver cars are switched to a different Porsche silver or even non-Porsche silver colors in the pursuit of a more brilliant color, but I wanted it to be original. After color sanding, it was given a clear coat. The original paint was single stage in 1959, but the clear coating really helps the metallic paint look better.

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Tim Hagner, who had been making multiple trips to the shop with me over the past seven months helped me bring it home. Still on the dolly I built for it a year ago, we wheeled it into the trailer and then back into the shop at home. WOOHOO!! I let Alan keep the rotisserie I built for the restoration (an absolute necessity) so if you have a car that needs his expert work, he’s all set.
Now the Fun begins! I should say “my part” of the fun – Alan is taking a break. Since it is just a shell, a perfect shell, but still a shell, there is much to be done. I have been rebuilding and reinstalling the wiring harness this past month. A slow and often confusing job that was made easier by Fred Nielsen having the correct color wiring diagram AND a “donor harness” where I could find wires of the correct colors/stripes to recreate the correct connections. Why do people chop these harnesses apart when they take them out??

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I have also been tearing down the engine, cleaning those parts and getting ready for its rebuild. I sent the heads off to be redone and Fred ( my main go-to-guy, in case you hadn’t caught that) also had a used set of 86mm pistons and cylinders that should work to upgrade the engine performance a bit. The next phase will be rebuilding the suspension and steering, reinstalling the transaxle which has been rebuilt by Ken at German Transaxle, rebuilding the brakes and getting the car back on the ground.

I am constantly trying to keep track of parts I already have, parts I need, parts that need repair or restoration and parts that I thought would work, but now don’t quite meet up to the standard that has been set by the terrific body and paint work! Wish me luck. If you need me, you know where to find me!