My Classic Car: Tom’s 1970 Porsche 911S

This 1970 Porsche 911S is Euro-spec, well, except for the windshield | Tom Truitt photos
This 1970 Porsche 911S is Euro-spec, well, except for the windshield | Tom Truitt photos

I have owned my 1970 911S for 10 years. I am the fourth owner and I have tracked down and interviewed every previous owner.

From the second owner, I retrieved real mileage numbers and put them back into the original Euro KM speedo, which had been taken out of the car when it was brought over from Europe by the original owner.

Car was a special-order form the factory
Car was a special-order form the factory

The car was bought, right from the factory, by a German citizen. It had been a special-order car that was never picked up.

Two years later, when the original owner shipped the car to the U.S., he had a problem with customs. They would not let the car in because the windshield was not up to U.S. standards. After a brief discussion the old German produced a lug wrench from the trunk and smashed the windshield. Customs let the car pass, they knew full well he would need to replace the windshield before DMV would register the car.

The car is all-original Euro spec (except the windshield) with 68,000 miles on the body. She is loved and well taken care of, never driven in the rain or snow.

— Tom Truitt, Westport CT

Eye Candy: First Porsche Werks Reunion brings them all together

Photos by Bob Golfen

An enthusiastic crowd of Porsche faithful swarmed the Rancho Cañada Golf Club in Carmel for the Porsche Club of America Werks Reunion, a new event added to the calendar during Monterey Classic Car Week.

More than 500 Porsches of just about every kind, ranging from early 356 models to the latest performance cars, were spread over the grassy hills, with a separate class for competition and special performance versions.

The Werks Reunion was filled-up with entrants weeks before the event, so many rare and well-prepared cars could be spotted in the parking lots and on the streets around the golf club. During the week leading up to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on the Monterey Peninsula, Porsche 911s were by far the most prevalent vintage cars seen on area roads.

Before this year, Porsches were part of the Legends of the Autobahn show for German cars, but Porsche Club members decided to break away and create their own concours specifically for their favorite rear-engine (mostly) sports cars. Plus, admission to the Werks Reunion was free in a week when high-priced events can cost hundreds of dollars.

Among the most interesting Porsches on display (aside from every 356 and 911) was an exotic all-wheel-drive 959 supercar from 1987, a rare and beautiful 356 American Roadster and a showing of Porsche’s latest supercar, the 887-horsepower 918 Spider for 2015. Price tag: $854,000 for the base model.

Porsche faithful celebrate at Werks Reunion

The Porsche Werks Reunion gathered together more than 500 interesting cars | Bob Golfen
The Porsche Werks Reunion gathered together more than 500 interesting cars | Bob Golfen

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.

A Porsche 911 with a pair of 356s | Bob Golfen
A Porsche 911 with a pair of 356s | Bob Golfen

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.”

Ken Ballard’s 356 was done in the style of an ‘outlaw’ | Bob Golfen
Ken Ballard’s 356 done in the style of an ‘outlaw’ | Bob Golfen

“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.

A 1987 Porsche 959 supercar attracts attention | Bob Golfen
A 1987 Porsche 959 supercar attracts attention | Bob Golfen

“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.

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Great Porsches highlight Coys auction at Nurburgring

Fifteen spectacular Porsches will be among 50 special European classics (plus a pair of all-American Chevys) offered during Coy’s auction at the famed Nurburgring track in Germany.

The Porsches comprise what the British auction company calls a “specialist section” of the August 9 sale of sports, GT and competition cars, including grand prix racers.

The 1958 Porsche 356 Speedster is ready for driving fun | Coys
The 1958 Porsche 356 Speedster is ready for driving fun | Coys

“Nurburgring promises to be a spectacular sale,” said Chris Routledge, managing partner at Coys. “We are featuring a specialist section, ‘The Excellence of Porsche,’ offering some of the finest Porsches available on the market anywhere in the world today.”

These include a rare and original 1970 911 S/T competition car formerly owned by German race driver Walter Röhrl and valued at $1.2 million to $1.5 million. The Porsche has been restored to its original factory configuration, Coys said.

“This is one of the rarest and most sought after 911s in the world and surely worthy of a place in any Porsche museum or to be seen in any significant worldwide motoring event,” Coys said in a news release.

Also featured is a 1976 934 RSR Turbo, estimated at $1.2 million to $1.34 million, which ran at Le Mans in 1976 but dropped out with turbocharging problems. The rare and significant survivor has documented period racing history, FIA papers and is ready to compete again.

A 1955 Allgaier tractor is among the Porsche entries | Coys
A 1955 Allgaier tractor is among the Porsche entries | Coys

For touring, there’s a Porsche 356 Speedster that left the factory in Stuttgart in 1958 and is one of 552 made that year. Finished in silver with a black interior, its estimated value is $335,000 to $400,000.

There’s even a Porsche that’s ready for the farm, a 1955 Allgaier Porsche mono-cylinder tractor, valued at $16,000 to $19,000. Or if you prefer agriculture Italian style, how about a tractor from Lamborghini, a rare 1958 DL30 Super, estimated at $15,000 to $17,000.

The Coys sale also presents a number of Ferraris, Lancias, Maseratis and Fiats among its Italian offerings; BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes from Germany; Jaguars, Austin-Healeys, Triumphs and others from Great Britain; a convertible Citroen DS 21 from France; and from the U.S., a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro RSS and a 1969 Chevrolet Corvette coupe restored as a ZL1.

Porsche 917K from film ‘Le Mans’ in Gooding auction

The 1969 Porsche 917K played a leading role in the Steve McQueen film Le Mans | Mathieu Heurtault / Gooding
The 1969 Porsche 917K played a leading role in the Steve McQueen film Le Mans | Mathieu Heurtault / Gooding

The stars are aligned. One of the world’s most-desirable vintage race cars is heading to auction at Pebble Beach with near-mythical provenance.

Gooding and Company announced Monday that a 1969 Porsche 917K in full Gulf livery will go on sale at its August 16-17 auction that coincides with the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. But this is not just any Porsche 917 — as if there was such a thing. This is the very 917 featured in the 1971 movie Le Mans starring Steve McQueen.

Chassis number 917-24 also has some racing history, but that pales in comparison with the Le Mans/McQueen boost to its value.

As an added bonus, this 917 has an evocative barn-find back story.

Given the well-documented McQueen effect on anything motor-related, a remarkable record-breaking sale is expected. Porsche 917s have traded in the lofty range of $10 million, and this one could bring double that amount at auction. Or more if the bidding heats up for this one-of-a-kind memento.

David Gooding, founder and president of the auction company said, “917-024 is one of the most significant and recognizable racing cars ever to come to public auction, and we are thrilled to present the legendary Gulf 917 Porsche.”

Steve McQueen as Michael Delaney in Le Mans | National General Pictures
McQueen as Michael Delaney in Le Mans | National General Pictures

There were 25 Porsche 917 race cars built (24 are known to remain) with the goal of winning outright at the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, which they succeeded in doing in 1970 and 1971. Chassis 917-24 has the distinction of being the first 917 to compete in a major race. It was entered by the Porsche works team at Spa Francorchamps in 1969.

Famed Porsche factory driver Jo Siffert acquired the 917 after its brief career as a competitor and test car. Siffert loaned the 917 to Solar Productions for the filming of Le Mans which he, McQueen and a number of other racing luminaries helped create. The Porsche remained in Siffert’s private ownership until his death – the 917 led his funeral procession.

Siffert’s estate sold the 917 to a French collector who kept it in storage, out of sight and essentially forgotten.

“This 917 remained hidden and unknown for roughly 25 years before re-emerging as perhaps the greatest ‘barn find’ ever,” the Gooding auction house said in a news release. “Since resurfacing in 2001, 917-024 has benefitted from an exceptional restoration.”

In the film Le Mans, best remembered for its exciting close-action racing sequences, the Porsche 917 is shown in pitched battle against the other leading endurance racer of the era, the Ferrari 512. The Porsche proves victorious in the heated 24-hour competition.

Several other pieces from that landmark film have sold over the years for absolutely stunning prices. The 1970 Porsche 911S that McQueen owned and drove in the opening sequences of Le Mans reached a startling $1.375 million at RM’s Monterey auction in August 2011. That was probably 10 times the value of any other pristine 911S at that time. It remains by far the most expensive 911 sold at auction.

A Ford GT40 that was modified as a camera car for the filming was sold for $11 million despite never appearing on screen. That was in August 2012 at the RM Monterey auction.

But perhaps the most extravagant, even outrageous price was the nearly $1 million paid for the “Michael Delaney” driving suit worn by McQueen in Le Mans, sold at a 2011 auction of Hollywood film items.

So the auction of the legendary Le Mans Porsche 917 should be pretty impressive.

The 917 is not the only McQueen-linked car coming up for auction in Monterey during Pebble Beach week in August. A 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 originally owned and modified by McQueen will be offered by RM Auctions earlier in the week. Valued between $1 million and $2 million, the McQueen effect could double the high estimate.

Porsche launches its own special motor-oil brand for classic air-cooled engines

Porsche Classic Motor Oil comes in two blends for earlier cars and later 911s | Porsche Classic
Porsche Classic Motor Oil comes in two blends for earlier cars and later 911s | Porsche Classic

Right from the beginning, Porsche’s air-cooled engines gained a reputation for sturdiness and reliability. But a crucial part of the formula was always the quality of the motor oil, which helped keep the engines cool as well as lubricating them.

Modern lightweight, high-detergent motor oils are designed for the needs of today’s engines, but fall short in protecting and preserving the classic horizontally opposed Porsche engines.

To help owners of vintage 356s, 914s and 911s keep their cars on the road, Porsche Cars North America has launched its own blend of motor oil specially blended for the needs of the air-cooled engines. Porsche switched to liquid cooling starting in 1998.

The 356 engines require specially formulated oil | Porsche
The 356 engines require specially formulated oil | Porsche

Porsche Classic Motor Oil is a high-viscosity hydrocracked mineral oil formulated for compatibility with the old alloy engines, with such additives as zinc and phosphorous to protect against wear and corrosion. The oil has been laboratory tested, Porsche says, to ensure that it will stand up to high temperatures as well as helping to preserve engines in collector cars that are only occasionally driven.

“The older flat engines in particular can’t just use any old oil,” Porsche Classic says in a news release. “The development of an engine oil for classic air-cooled flat engines has therefore been something akin to a balancing act between tradition and innovation: as advanced as possible and as traditional as necessary.”

There are two varieties of the Porsche Classic oil, a 20W-50 blend for flat-four engines in the 356 and 914, and six-cylinder engines in 911 models up to 2.7 liters; and 10W-60 for air-cooled flat-six 911 engines from 3.0 liters and up.

Those high viscosities might seem pretty thick by today’s standards, but according the Porsche, the multi-blend ratings are more compatible with the engines designs of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

Pricing is around $12 per liter at Porsche dealerships, and it also should be available from vintage Porsche parts outlets.

As a bonus for Porsche fans, the containers are attractive enough to put on display.

Eye Candy: Porsche Lit Meet

 Photos by Bob Golfen 

Known simply as the Lit Meet among the Porsche faithful, the annual Los Angeles gathering is actually a full three days of multiple celebrations for the little rear-engine sports cars from Germany.

The events surrounding the Porsche and Vintage VW Literature, Toy and Memorablia Swap Meet at the LAX Hilton took place Feb. 28 through March 2, and included a “shop crawl” of the many terrific restoration businesses in the LA area, most focusing on the original 356 and early 911 models,  and a major swap meet in Anaheim of classic Porsche parts and accessories.  

Weather was an issue at this year’s Porsche party, with sometimes-heavy rain coming down on all three days.  But the shows went on without a worry, and thousands of devotees made the pilgrimage and shrugged off the rain.

For a full report on last weekend’s events, click on Porsche Lit Meet.

Porsche fanatics plunge into annual Lit Meet festival

Soggy Porsche fans check out a 911 S during the Sunday swap meet | Bob Golfen
Soggy Porsche fans check out a 911 S during the Sunday swap meet in Anaheim | Bob Golfen

The rain poured down in wind-driven sheets as the crowd at Carparc USA, a Porsche restoration shop in Costa Mesa, Calif., peered from under the open garage doors.

A small river rushed down the gutter past a Porsche 911 – a valuable early one – parked in the street out front. Pelted by the fat drops, the black beauty seemed emblematic of the soggy weather being dished out by the Southern California skies during the events of the Porsche and Vintage VW Literature, Toy and Memorabilia meet.

But it didn’t really matter. This was the major annual gathering of the Porsche faithful, with tens of thousands coming in from all over the country and the world to indulge their passions for the little rear-engine sports cars from Germany.

A customer considers the original posters for sale at the Porsche Lit Meet | Bob Golfen
Customer considers original posters | Bob Golfen

The shows would go on, damp but undampened.

Known simply as the Lit Meet, the Saturday literature, toy and memorabilia show has taken place at the Hilton Hotel adjacent to the airport for the past couple of decades and has spawned a collection of related social events, the “shop crawl” of open houses at the many local Porsche restoration businesses, and a big Sunday swap meet in Anaheim.

California and the Southwest have been in the grip of a vicious drought, so it was with mixed feelings that we ducked under cover as rain fell during all three days of the Porsche lovefest. But nothing was going to wreck this key Porsche weekend, and we joined all the others who shrugged off the weather to join the fun.

And it was well worth it. That quickly became obvious during our first stop Friday at Callas Rennsport in Torrance, which repairs and restores some of the rarest and most valuable Porsches in existence. One of the true exotics of the 1980s was the Porsche 959, and here were three of them parked outside, and another one on a lift. Value? Who knows.

Rare Porsche 959 coupes lined up at Callas Rennsport in Torrance | Bob Golfen
Rare Porsche 959 coupes at Callas Rennsport | Bob Golfen

A member of our group, Erik Black of Phoenix, ecstatically eyed every inch of the very first 1967 Porsche 911 R race car, which was parked in one of the bays. He pointed out the serial number: 11899001R.

“This is the number one 911 R,” Black said in a reverent tone. “It’s so significant, it’s not even funny.”

At Callas, we met a star of Pikes Peak racing, Jeff Zwart, who has pounded Porsches to the top of the mountain nine times.

“This is really a great event, the greatest gathering of Porsche people in the nation,” Zwart said of the Lit Meet weekend. “It really is a special deal.”

The actual Lit Meet was Saturday inside two large ballrooms at the hotel, so the weather was not an issue as Porsche fanatics packed in to browse, buy and carry away the myriad stuff brought by more than 250 vendors. The goodies included rare books and literature, original posters and advertising, loads of vintage models and toys, and an impressive selection of new-old stock and reproduction parts for the classic 356 and early 911 models, which have become increasingly valuable in recent years.

Porsche 911s under restoration at Carparc USA | Bob Golfen
Porsche 911s under restoration at Carparc USA | Bob Golfen

That was a major takeaway from the weekend: The rising interest in and booming values of 911s from the 1960s and early ’70s have heated up restoration efforts of the iconic sports cars because it’s now more economically feasible to turn rusted basket cases into polished gems. Some shops, such as Carparc, have become dedicated to finding and restoring early 911s.

Tate Askew, a restorer and collector visiting from Atlanta, was checking out a pristine 911 at Willhoit Auto Restoration in Long Beach. He said these cars are his focus. “I have five ’65s that I’m building right now.”

Askew, who has been a regular at Lit Meet events for many years, noted that California is the center of the universe for Porsche enthusiasts, with some of the best work coming out of the So Cal restoration shops.

“California is Porsche Mecca,” he said. “Back East, when we see a great paint job on a Porsche, we call it a ‘California paint job’.”

The immaculate Willhoit shop, one of the premiere Porsche restoration facilities in the nation, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Visitors at Willhoit’s shop eye a Speedster body stripped of paint | Bob Golfen
Visitors at Willhoit’s shop eye a Speedster body | Bob Golfen

“Porsches are my passion and I’ve been lucky enough to have it work for me,” the affable John Willhoit said as he chatted with his many visitors.

Nearby, people gazed up at a red 1964 356 Carrera 2 that was held high on a lift to display its underside, including its exotic four-cam engine. Prices for these very-special performance cars have climbed into the high six figures. This one was the best of show winner at the Dana Point Concours d’Elegance

One of the most fascinating stops on our shop-crawl tour was Steve Hogue Enterprises, where metal craftsmen create steel and aluminum bodies and parts for restoration efforts. The shop is famous for its intricate reconstruction of the 1951 Glockler Porsche, crafting the aluminum body over a handmade wooden buck.

Among several current projects, the metal men are creating the body for an early Porsche race car, the RS61 Spyder.

A 911 race car was fitted with new rear sheet metal with flares | Bob Golfen
911 racer at Hogue’s fitted with flared rear bodywork | Bob Golfen

“We have the (original) frame and we’re making the body for it,” Hogue said, pointing out that the reconstructed front section of the body that came with the frame was not up to snuff and would be discarded. Perfection rules at this shop.

Sunday’s big swap meet on the grounds of the Phoenix Club in Anaheim harkened to the days before the Internet when one of the few ways to locate rare parts involved everyone toting their collections of bits and pieces to events like this to buy, sell and trade.

Of course, the social aspect to the swap meet is critical, with the annual gathering providing an opportunity to meet and greet old Porsche buddies. The occasional cloudburst hampered some of the activities, although the attendance was pretty strong.

Or as one vendor noted when asked how he was doing, “Not bad. It would be better if the weather was cooperating.”

A rainbow arcs over Porsches at European Collectibles | Bob Golfen
A rainbow arcs over Porsches at European Collectibles | Bob Golfen

With much of the swap meet contained in a large tent, the only real downer regarding the weather was that it reduced the number of local Porsche owners who brought their cars out to display. Usually, the grassy field adjacent to the swap meet is filled with personal Porsches. There was a good number of them scattered around the grounds, just not the usual horde.

A meaningful moment happened Saturday at European Collectibles, a Costa Mesa restoration complex that throws one of the biggest parties of the weekend. Dozens of gorgeously restored 356 and 911 models were lined up outside in the rain, water beading up on their gleaming finishes, while hundreds of visitors were huddled in the open-sided shop, eating barbecue and sipping beers.

Gradually, the rain stopped and, to the delight of everyone, a rainbow arced overhead, rising above the beautiful old Porsches. These cars were a true pot of gold.

See ClassicCars.com on Saturday for an Eye candy gallery

from the Porsche Lit Meet weekend.

Max’d-out Porsches to be featured at Griot’s Garage Caffeine & Gasoline

Photos courtesy Griot's Garage
Photos courtesy Griot’s Garage

Griot’s Garage is known for meeting the car care needs of classic and contemporary car owners. But it meets some of those folks’ other needs the first Saturday of each month when it hosts Caffeine & Gasoline at its workshop in Tacoma, Wash.

On March 1, Griot’s will provide the coffee and Hagerty Insurance will sponsor the free donuts as the monthly cruise-in.

But Griot’s gatherings are more than just the typical cruise-in. Each has a theme, and each includes some sort of demonstration or educational experience that includes a significant amount of noise. For example, here’s a video from a recent Caffeine & Gasoline gathering:

The theme this month is Porsche, well, not only Porsche but Porsche (and other marques) as tweaked by MaxRPM, the motorsports and high-performance tuning shop from Bremerton, Wash. MaxRPM will bring several cars it has enhanced and also will do a tuning tech session to share some of its secrets.DSC_0158

Also featured will be several of Richard Griot’s own Porsches, including a 1973 911S.

Griot hosts Caffeine & Gasoline the first Saturday of each month. The theme for April will be Ford Mustang as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. In May, the gathering will be a showcase for vintage police, fire and military vehicles.

LA Lit Meet lights up Porsche fanatics

Vintage Porsche toys, posters and parts are among the LA Lit Meet’s offerings. (Illustration: LA Lit and Toy Show)
Vintage Porsche toys, posters and parts are among the LA Lit Meet’s offerings. (Illustration: LA Lit and Toy Show)

For Porsche fanatics, it’s known simply as the LA Lit Meet. That serves to sum up the unbridled Porsche frenzy that hits the Los Angeles area next week.

The main event is the 31th annual Los Angeles Porsche and Vintage VW Literature, Toy and Memorabilia Show, which takes place March 1 at the Los Angeles Airport Hilton hotel. Hundreds of vendors spread a sweeping collection of primarily Porsche items – advertising and press materials, toys and models, books and technical literature, original factory documents, steering wheels and trim pieces, and a wide variety of collector’s items.

It’s massive and it attracts passionate Porsche people from around the world, so the social aspect becomes almost as engaging as the event itself. The emphasis is on early Porsche sports cars and competition models, and there’s quite a contingent questing for 356 and early 911 artifacts as well as racing posters and other pieces from the 1950s-’70s glory days of Porsche racing .

Admission is $10, but savvy shoppers pony up $30 for an early-bird ticket that gets you in the door and at the goodies just as the dealers are setting up. For more information, see www.lalitandtoyshow.com.

Porsche shops, such as AutoKennel in Costa Mesa, will host open houses. (Photo: AutoKennel)
Porsche shops, such as AutoKennel in Costa Mesa, will host open houses. (Photo: AutoKennel)

But that’s only part of the multi-day extravaganza. The experience includes a series of informal open houses at Porsche restoration shops stretching from San Diego to north of Los Angeles from Thursday through Saturday after the Lit Show, including such famed venues (to Porsche folk) as Wilhoit Auto Restorations, Sierra Madre Collection, AutoKennel, Callas Rennsport, Steve Hogue Enterprises, European Collectibles, Liberty Motorsports and Carparc USA.

Another major happening occurs Sunday with the All-Porsche Swap and Car Display presented by the 356 Club of Southern California. For adherents of the classic tubs, this is the main draw of the schedule.

Located at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim, the swap meet harkens to the days before the Internet when hobbyists and restorers trolled through acres of parts and pieces for just the right original bit. It also serves as a gathering place for the Porsche faithful to meet and greet.

There’s an 11,500-square-foot indoor area for swap tables as well as some two acres of adjacent swap-meet area. There also is a large soccer field to display cars for sale. All in all, a mad jumble of stuff that celebrates the booming interest in early Porsches.

For the run of Porsche-shop open houses and more information about the Sunday swap meet, see related events.