Many Porsche enthusiasts will be familiar with Pelican Parts, a major player in our hobby. Wayne Dempsey, the founder of the Californian company, has assembled a most impressive collection over the years, beautifully displayed in a large room within the h
We take an exclusive look at Wayne Dempsey’s ultimate toy box…
Wayne Dempsey has a nice view from his office. The scenery isn't made of hills or a spectacular outlook on downtown LA; but a large window allows him to admire the 'Pelican Garage'. It serves different duties, being a shop area where he comes to wrench on his cars whenever he has a minute, and a place for other Pelican techs to do the DIY work for the vast library of 'how to' articles they provide, a fact confirmed by the tools and parts spread over the benches. The same space also houses an amazing collection of Porsches. It's a cosy place, thanks to brick walls (the remodelled building dates to back 1962) and automobilerelated decoration. Many will consider it the perfect man-cave.
Before visiting these grounds, it would seem appropriate to present our good-natured host. Nothing predestined Wayne to became a genuine gearhead, as his dad had little interest in them, but he was always attracted to 'mechanical things' as he points out. 'I went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology and got a degree in Mechanical Engineering. I started working on cars in college on the MIT solar car, which I still own.'
In 1997, Wayne saw the opportunity to develop an internet-based company (www.pelicanparts.com), specialising in the online sale of auto parts and accessories. His website would also prove an invaluable tool to spread technical advice to enthusiasts; in fact, we're certain many Classic Porsche readers will be familiar with the DIY articles and Pelican Forums. He teamed up with friend Tom Gould, the latter using his garage to inventory their first batch of Porsche products.
Dempsey had learned to appreciate the German brand years ago thanks to a Porsche 914, owned by the dad of an ex-girlfriend in upstate New York. 'I decided to have one, when moving to California. I ended up buying a 1.8-litre '74 914, although I knew little about Porsches at the time.'
“NOTHING PREDESTINED WAYNE TO BECOME A GEARHEAD…”
He later installed a 3.2-litre flat-six and had the idea of keeping it, well, forever. Unfortunately, the vehicle was stolen in 2016… The police eventually caught up with the thief, who's now calling jail home; but he has flatly refused to divulge the 914's whereabouts.
Many other Porsches have followed since, including a 1960 356B (now sold) and the numerous other models seen in the pictures. As Wayne's understanding of vintage Porsches grew, he went on to publish several 101 Projects books, highly-regarded by enthusiasts, from How to Rebuild and Modify Porsche 911 Engines to 101 Projects for your Porsche 911.
The company developed rapidly and he ended up expanding the business on his own. He also moved to the above-mentioned 40,000 square-foot brick building (housing a warehouse, an office, and his collection/shop) located in Harbor City, about 20 miles south of Los Angeles. Wayne and his team of about 50 pride themselves in sourcing high-quality stock and performance parts/accessories.
And their commitment paid off, with Pelican successfully venturing into other automotive markets: BMW, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Volkswagen, Mini, Saab, and Volvo – though Porsche remains one of the key brands, and dominant in the hearts and minds of the equally Porsche enthusiast Pelican employees. Always eager to try new parts and technical solutions, Wayne continues experimenting with project cars, Porsche and not. Among them, we noticed a uniquely-modified 1957 Mercedes 190SL roadster and a hopped-up BMW 700 from the '60s.
Let's move to our host's shop/collection room, typically closed to the public, except for a few occasions including the company's Open House (see Classic Porsche 's article about the All Porsche Weekend in issue #44). Dempsey concedes that he never planned on having such an extensive collection, as he explains: 'Whatever falls in my lap is what I pick up – there is no real rhyme or reason to the cars I've collected over the years. I tend to look for good cars that are priced well and are undervalued. I also like the unusual stuff – and I like when visitors say “Oh, I've never seen that before”.'
Classic Porsche magazine has visited its share of collections over the years; however, this one stands out as it isn't solely a place where cars 'sit pretty'. In other words, the space sees plenty of action, since Wayne does a lot of the work on the vehicles himself, and Pelican's tech team also utilises this space. He even wrenches on his own black Porsche 959 – a supercar stored, incidentally, in another part of the building.
Yes, this room is truly alive, but he also wanted it to be aesthetically pleasing, hence the numerous neon-signs, mostly originals, dressing the walls. More colourful lights come courtesy of gas pumps and car-centric pinball machines, plus the nose of a genuine 962 with working headlights. It took Wayne 25 hours to install it above a window.
Then, check out the section of a prototype 959 cockpit,
which includes a seat and a dash featuring details never used on production cars, such as some prototype hand-controlled knobs. It was very likely made by the factory, though its intent remains a mystery.
Of course, you can't miss the large electric slot car track, built by a UCLA professor over an 18-month period and loosely inspired by the town of Portofino, used in Disney's 'Cars' movie. All buildings are handmade, brick-by-brick!
A trio of flat-six engines is certain to impress the visitors as well, representing the evolution of the 962: air-cooled heads/air-cooled cylinders (with a horizontal fan shroud), water-cooled heads/air-cooled cylinders (upright shroud), and the last of the breed, entirely water-cooled, which appeared in 1987. Plenty of glass cases welcome scale models and memorabilia, too. Being an engineer by trade, Wayne loves working models, some fully-assembled and quite noisy, others cut down to show their internals – fascinating stuff.
Time to move to the cars, starting with the oldest of the bunch, a black 1958 Speedster. He got this true survivor from the second owner, a lady who bought it in '61! Under her ownership, it has never been collision-damaged and shows no rust. The little tub saw very little use after being restored in '77, residing in the Palm Springs, California desert area, where it remained nice and dry until Wayne purchased it. In a strange turn of events, the original engine blew two days after he took possession of the car – it has since been replaced with a highly-potent 912 motor.
When Wayne had his black 914 stolen, he decided to look for a replacement and ended up buying the beige 914 fitted with a 2.8L twin-plug engine. It was built by the previous owner as a tribute to a couple of rally cars, which were supposed to race in the Caribbean in the '80s – they never did due to some sketchy characters!
The black 911 is not a genuine Carrera, but a wellbalanced '72 coupé equipped with a 3.0L engine based around a bulletproof aluminium case. Dempsey considers it as one of the most-fun cars he has had in recent times, along with the beige 914. Besides not being a real RS, it happens to be better than a real RS, with additional power and a few tricks to make it more drivable.
And then, there's the even wilder green 911, a tribute to the 2.8 RSR very much in the spirit of the R-gruppe, which Wayne joined some years ago. He purposely got the vehicle without engine, as he needed a hot-rod to install the prototype
3.4L RS flat-six he had in his shop, a rare piece that involved the mystery of the stolen Porsche 917 engines from Vasek Polak (a future story).
The 935, chassis number 000 00028, is a Dempsey favourite, too, as you might expect. Brumos owner Peter Holden Gregg had already won the IMSA GTO championships on four occasions in the '70s, when he was to enter a 924 Carrera GTS in the 1980 Le Mans race. On route to a practice run, he got involved in an accident, hence Derek Bell took his place during the event. In November 1980, Gregg was supposed to debut his freshly-completed 935 – the vehicle seen here – at the 250-mile Daytona Finale; but he failed to qualify, suffering from double-vision following his accident at Le Mans. Sadly, he committed suicide shortly thereafter. This Brumos Porsche was later sold and had a successful career with pilots such as Al Holbert, Bruce Leven and Hurley Haywood. Wayne has never driven the car, likely the last 935 ever built, conceding that his driving ability is far less capable than this machine demands.
From the pictures, you probably gathered that Wayne has a 'thing' for 962s. And why not, considering the 956/962 success in competition, having won Le Mans' 24-hour race on seven occasions. He bought his first 962 in 2010, the Yokohama-sponsored 962-110 – the seller was an enthusiast who got it directly from Kremer. The team built two 962-110s from remains of a 956 that had crashed in 1985 and Wayne's seemingly won the European Porsche Cup series in 1987.
Next, the Liqui Moly 962C, bearing chassis number 962-106b and purchased via an auction… The white Prototype raced 11 times in 1987 (including Le Mans), winning twice at Norisring and Kyalami. It continued its career in Japan from 1988 until '91, finishing second and third on several outings, later being the subject of a four-year restoration. Parked on a lift above the Yokohama 962, you can't miss the 1986 Havoline car, chassis 962-121, a US winner on seven occasions in 1987-88, including two victories at Sebring's 12hour race.
The orange Jägermeister Prototype turned out to be a
“YOU PROBABLY GATHERED, WAYNE HAS A THING FOR 962S…”
great find, as Wayne recently discovered it was the first carbon-fibre Porsche 962. It had a rough beginning in 1987, heavily crashing on its inaugural race, though it survived well thanks to its strong carbon underpinning. After replacing several components, the car was back on track just a week later. The fully-restored Group C entry, chassis number 962138, has been equipped with a 3.0-litre twin-turbo motor. Let's add a fifth survivor to Wayne's list of 962s, a 1985 model wearing the Victor computer livery, currently undergoing a restoration in the UK!
Completing the Porsche line-up is a 2000 Porsche Lola B2K/10, which may not be the most famous Le Mans Prototype ever, but still has a place in Wayne's heart. Lola Cars International developed only a handful of cars, though his example is the only one featuring a Porsche-powered chassis. Running a 1000bhp GT1 Evo engine, the racer came to be as Porsche decided to withdraw from Le Mans, following their victory in 1998. With their motorsport department dedicated to the development of the future RS Spyder, the manufacturer agreed to supply one of their powerplants to Champion Motorsports for use in the Lola. The drivers reached the podium during a few minor races, though it never won any major events until it became uncompetitive at the end of the 2002 season. It retains its original Champion livery, at a time when track duties were shared between Wallace, Haywood, Maasen and Luhr.
Yes, there's indeed a lot to see in the Pelican collection… Oh, we haven't mentioned the roadlegal 1958 Daimler tank, purchased for the simple reason that our man wanted his two sons (age 10 and 12) to be involved in the rebuild of a fun toy. It's an interesting piece, motivated by a six-cylinder motor and capable of being entirely submerged in water. Once the restoration is completed, he plans to use it to pick up his kids from school. Looks like Wayne is having fun in life. And looking at this collection, we understand why! CP
“THERE’S A LOT TO SEE IN THE PELICAN COLLECTION…”
The building serves both as storage and shop. Who wouldn’t want such a place?
Below left: Wayne Dempsey is a hard-core Porsche enthusiast and collector who knows how to have fun! He’s the man behind Pelican Parts, the hugely successful on-line parts operation and information resource
Below right: Neon signs, gas pumps, memorabilia (and Porsches, of course): this collection has it all
Below: Best known in its Liqui Moly livery, 962-106b occasionally ran with rear fender skirts. Oh, and who doesn’t love a race Porsche in Jägermeister livery?
Above left: From a seemingly humble 914 to powerful 962s, Carrera RS to 356 Speedster, Wayne Dempsey shows eclectic tastes
Above right: While not very successful in competition, Porsche Lola B2K/10 ran with Porsche’s backing
Above: Fun and easy to use, the 914 is one ofdempsey’ s favourite vehicles to drive. It’s powered by a 2.7-litre
Below right: A few Porsches and…well, a 1958 Daimler tank, the latest Dempsey family project! Green RSRstyle hot-rod runs a 3.4-litre prototype RS motor
Below left: Wayne kept busy in the shop while we took pictures. That’s the stock engine from the Speedster
Below: Thinkabout the incredible 30-year evolution between the ’58 Speedster and the 962 behind… The ‘RS’ is a replica running a
Above left: Being trained as an engineer, Wayne owns a range of old and fascinating tech-oriented scale models
Above right: Several (large) scale models celebrate Porsche’s racing heritage, such as the 906 body
Above: Wayne’s always happy to demonstrate his collection at the annual AllPorsche Weekend open house day…
Below right: ‘Wall art’ 962 nose nicely complements the 1987–88 Sebring winner, chassis number 962-121
Below left: These three flatsixes showcase the development of the 962 engine over the years