PEL­I­CAN GARAGE

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

Classic Porsche - - Contents - Words & pho­tos: Stephan Szan­tai

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

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