Porsches are all over the Monterey Peninsula this week. One reason for that – beyond the booming popularity of 911s – was the inaugural Porsche Club of America Werks Reunion that took place Friday on a rolling golf course in Carmel.
More than 500 Porsches, ranging from early 356 models to the latest performance cars, gathered at Rancho Cañada Golf Club for the all-new concours that has become part of the sweeping Monterey Classic Car Week collection of events.
Porsches were previously part of Legends of the Autobahn, but breaking off from the rest of the German marques was apparently a good decision, judging by the size of the enthusiastic crowd that came for the all-Porsche show.
Being a Porsche fan, I made sure that the Werks Reunion was included in my busy schedule of events. Another good decision. The show was a great celebration of everything Porsche, and even the parking lots were loaded with cars well worth seeing.
Best of all, admission to the Werks Reunion was free during a week in which many events pluck hundreds of dollars from your pocket.
One of the Werks Reunion entrants I met, who was showing his car in a diverse specialty class of competition and performance versions, was Ken Ballard of Ojai, California, which is located near Santa Barbara. He was sitting with his attractive 1959 356 Super coupe “outlaw” that he said he had “brought back from the dead.”
“Outlaw,” by the way, is Porsche speak for cars – mainly the four-cylinder 356s – that have been specially tuned and customized for performance with appropriate modifications.
Like so many Porsche 356s back in the old days before they became valuable, the little 1961 coupe had fallen on hard times. It had sat outside, untouched, for at least 10 years until it had turned into a rusty hulk. At some point, a tree fell on it and crushed a front fender.
Ballard discovered it and figured it would make a good project car. “I lived in the neighborhood and hauled it home,” he said.
The restoration was difficult and costly, but Ballard said he enjoyed such things as learning to weld so that he could help refurbish his 356 firsthand. He also decided that he wanted to fix it up the way a performance enthusiast would have done so back in the day.
“The concept of this car was to build it like a GS,” he said, referring to a hot factory model from that time. “It’s still an outlaw, but it has the right appointments.”
Some other favorite sightings among the row after row of interesting Porsches included an exotic 959 from 1987, one of the hottest and most-celebrated supercars of its era; racy 356 Speedsters; 911s and 912s of nearly every age and type; and a rare and beautiful 356 American Roadster.
Porsche’s latest supercar, the 887-horsepower 918 Spider for 2015, about stole the show when it was introduced. Price tag: $854,000 for the base model.