WEST COAST MAGIC
For West Coast Metric owner Loren Pearson, the fondness for Porsches and VWS began when his dad purchased a Beetle Cabriolet in 1958. Lorenzo – as everybody calls him – later bought his own Speedster in 1965, before going on to collect vehicles of both ma
Classic Porsche visits Loren Pearson to view his Porsche and VW collection
As a kid growing up in the 1950s, Loren Pearson witnessed the growth in popularity of the Porsche and VW brands in California. ʻMy parents worked hard, though our family didnʼt have a lot of moneyʼ, he recalls. ʻDad couldnʼt afford a Porsche in 1958, but he managed to purchase a Beetle convertible fresh off the showroom floor.ʼ Lorenzo attributes his interest in air-cooled VWS and Porsches to this car – he loved working on it.
After enlisting in the Marine Corps and completing his service as a teenager, he scored a job as a mechanic at the famous Chick Iverson VW and Porsche dealership in Newport Beach, California. This allowed him to get a formal training, which taught him all about the intricacies of these vehicles – or lack thereof.
He relocated up the coast a couple of years later to join another dealer, Lee Whistler VW in Redondo Beach, where he quickly moved from the repair area to the parts department, becoming the Assistant Manager. His next professional move saw him working at the Los Angeles VW & Porsche Distribution Center, leading to a position as a Parts Technician – here he dealt with all the Volkswagen dealers based in LA and nearby counties.
As the ʼ60s drew to an end, Lorenzo had acquired an invaluable knowledge of Volkswagens and Porsches. He had already owned several VWS by then, along with his first Porsche, a ʼ55 Speedster which he purchased in 1965 for just $825. ʻI restored it in 1968, after Christine and I got marriedʼ, he remembers. ʻI sold it a year later for $2400 – the new owner totalled it a month later!ʼ
During the early ʼ70s, every Californian neighbourhood was swarming with daily-driven Volkswagens, while the Porsche brand saw great success in the sports car segment, too. This inspired Lorenzo to open ʻThe Engine Compartmentʼ, a store specialising in VW and Porsche parts on Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach. Business was good, so he expanded with a second outlet down the coast at Newport Beach. It proved to be exhausting, as both stores were over 40 miles apart… Plus, by now he and Christine had two sons, Scott and Todd. He therefore decided to sell both shops.
It was time to start a new business! In 1977, the hero of our tale opened West Coast Metric (WCM), a company devoted to the production of parts that had been discontinued by Volkswagen, or were difficult to find. His first item was a window rubber for the Beetle, made from a new space-age synthetic material that lasted much longer than the original parts. More tooling and moulds followed, for the manufacture of gaskets and other rubber parts, the majority of which were made in the USA.
WCM had humble beginnings with the firmʼs phone being connected to the garage at the Pearson household, which was used to inventory the products. Eventually, Lorenzo rented a small warehouse near Redondo Beach, while wife Christine handled the book keeping – sons Scott and Todd occasionally worked there as well and helped at Volkswagen
events. (We should mention that the Pearsons suffered a great loss with the unexpected passing of Scott in 2013.)
The companyʼs headquarters moved two more times to larger facilities, before Lorenzo finally bought a 30,000sq ft building in Harbor City…about a quarter-mile from Pelican Parts, which Classic Porsche featured in issue #46! Itʼs a small world. The brick structure accommodates WCMʼS manufacturing and production facilities, parts inventory and the collection showcased in this article. It mixes Porsches and Volkswagens (with an emphasis on off-road racers), set in a wonderful environment.
While Todd Pearson stepped-up and took the helm of WCM full time, Lorenzo still shows up almost every day to play in his ʻman caveʼ, which comprises two separate areas. The first accommodates his stable of over 20 vehicles; the second, his workshop, as he enjoys wrenching on his own project cars.
The place has a cosy feel, thanks to a ton of goodies put on display: vintage gas pump, Porsche and VW neon signs, racing banners, etc. One corner is solely devoted to Porsche memorabilia, with pictures and posters, including a rare one from the ʼ60s featuring Steve Mcqueen. It came from the nearby Vasek Polak dealership that closed during the ʼ90s, where Lorenzo had connections with the man himself and his employees. This allowed Pearson to acquire a complete NOS Porsche 935 glassfibre nose piece for just £2000, which he then dressed in the famous Martini livery.
Not much of a circuit or drag race fan, Lorenzo loves offroading as demonstrated by two basic single-seaters built in
“IT MIXES PORSCHES AND VOLKSWAGENS…”
Always on the lookout for interesting off-road vehicles, Lorenzo found a ʼ68 911T built by Don and Gary Emory for desert outings. Don did a fantastic job with the bodywork, later painting the coupé as a Rothmans tribute. It features a chromoly roll cage, an intercom system, and a 2400cc ʻScamʼ motor with mechanical fuel-injection, while the rims are genuine 5.5Jx15 and 8Jx15 Fuchs. Lorenzo also has a 993, which he purchased from the second owner. It has only covered 8000 miles since new.
Several other vehicles complement his collection, such as the ʼ62 sunroof Beetle daily-driven by the Pearson family from 1968 until ʼ84, along with the ʼ64 ʻBugazonʼ Baja Bug convertible with a fantastic story. This VW was custom-built to test WCMʼS products during a rally competition, specifically the 1st Transamerica Race in South America, in 1988. Starting in Columbia and ending in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Lorenzo and his co-pilot ended up covering 10,000 miles, finishing 1st in class and 11th overall out of 72 cars. At one point, he drove for three days straight with no sleep!
Although we cannot list all the fine automobiles that belong to the collection, we should mention a couple of oddballs… The first is a partially-restored ʼ67 Beetle. Only the left side has actually been redone, painted and upholstered, whilst the other half remains unrestored, from the ʻpatinaʼdʼ original paint to the rusty (half) bumpers! Lorenzo is also understandably proud of his ʼ47 Ford Woody, that relies on a modern Lincoln V8 engine, gearbox and suspension – the perfect ride to hit So-calʼs best surfing spots.
We had a great time hanging out for an afternoon with Lorenzo, whoʼs a terrific story-teller. Looking at all the wonderful ʻstuffʼ he has gathered over the years, anybody would understand why he spends most days in this vast, cosy corner of WCMʼS headquarters. Mister Pearson is a lucky man! CP