STEALTH FIGHTER

One of the most ea­gerly awaited out­laws to hit the UK scene, Phil Jarvisʼs 1958 356A is a mas­ter­piece of low-key style…

Classic Porsche - - Contents - Words: Keith Seume Pho­tos: Paul Knight

Thereʼs lit­tle doubt that Phil Jarvis is a hardcore fan of ev­ery­thing air-cooled, whether it orig­i­nates from Wolfs­burg or fur­ther south in Stuttgart. His sta­ble of cars – well, more ac­cu­rately speak­ing, ʻve­hi­clesʼ – is a reg­u­lar pot­pourri of the Ger­man air-cooled scene, with the ear­li­est ex­am­ple in the col­lec­tion dat­ing back to 1942!

Phil is a 40-some­thing-year-old di­rec­tor of a com­pany which makes high-den­sity of­fice stor­age sys­tems – you know, the sort of shelv­ing units youʼll see in archives or large of­fices where space can be at a real pre­mium. Heʼs mar­ried to wife Suzanna and has pair of 17-year-old twin sons, Ol­lie and Joe. But we think it would be fair to guess that heʼs also ʻmar­riedʼ to his car col­lec­tion.

The old­est ve­hi­cle in his garage is the 1942 VW Type 166 Sch­wimmwa­gen – the Porsche-de­signed am­phibi­ous ʻjeepʼ used by the Wehrma­cht in the Sec­ond World War. Among VW col­lec­tors, the Sch­wimmwa­gen is re­garded as the Holy Grail, with few ex­am­ples sur­viv­ing the war, and even fewer in full work­ing (swim­ming) or­der.

Then thereʼs the 1952 ʻs­tan­dardʼ VW Bee­tle – th­ese early do­mes­tic mar­ket VWS came with ca­ble brakes, a non­syn­chro ʻcrashʼ gear­box, no body trim and very few crea­ture com­forts. They, too, are sought af­ter as rel­a­tively few have sur­vived un­touched or up­graded.

How about the 1958 Deluxe Bee­tle – that has the ʻworksʼ, with hy­draulic brakes, part-syn­chro­mesh gear­box, chrome trim and a more lux­u­ri­ous in­te­rior. Next in line is a pair of VW Type 2s – thatʼs fac­tory talk for Trans­porters or Buses etc. One of them is a so-called ʻ11-win­dowʼ Bus, but

the other is a panel van, which goes by the name of the ʻFire Busʼ. This is some­thing rather spe­cial, be­ing pow­ered by an ab­surdly pow­er­ful VW en­gine that has pro­pelled it down the quar­ter mile in 11.42 sec­onds! Thatʼs quicker than most mod­ern su­per­cars by some mar­gin.

But, as fun and ex­cit­ing as the Fire Bus might be, itʼs not ex­actly the most prac­ti­cal ve­hi­cle of all, while the other Volk­swa­gen badged ve­hi­cles are at the op­po­site end of the per­for­mance scale, be­ing bet­ter suited to quiet pot­ters through the coun­try lanes. So what does Phil turn to when he wants a lit­tle more ac­tion? Well, be­ing a diehard vin­tage VW fan, then the ob­vi­ous choice is a some­thing with a Porsche badge – and an old one at that. En­ter the 356A…

ʻThe car was brought into the UK from Cal­i­for­nia back in 2009 by Steve Mur­phy,ʼ Phil tells us. ʻIt was then passed on to Steve Walker, who sold it to me back in early 2013. At the time it was bright red – pos­si­bly Guards Red – and on close in­spec­tion it was clear that there had been corners cut when it came to prep­ping the body­work for paint. That led me to be­lieve that un­der­neath the re­spray lay a car that was full of filler and other nasty sur­prises.ʼ

Phil de­cided to run the Porsche the way it was for a while, just car­ry­ing out ba­sic ser­vic­ing of the stock 1600 en­gine. It looked great, low­ered over black steel wheels and with plenty of ʻat­ti­tudeʼ. ʻIt was an awe­some car to drive,ʼ says Phil, ʻand even though not con­cours, it had a look and feel about it that was just right.ʼ

“IT WAS AN AWE­SOME CAR TO DRIVE…”

How­ever, nag­ging away in his mind was the be­lief that all was prob­a­bly not as good as it could be un­der that red paint, as shiny as it may have been. ʻEar­lier this year, I de­cided to give the car a bit of a makover,ʼ says Phil. ʻThe plan was to keep the red just the same but give it a bud­get re­paint just to make it look a lit­tle bet­ter for a while. I did­nʼt re­ally want to get into a full resto right now, rather just leave it for a few years be­fore get­ting stuck into it prop­erly.ʼ

At least, that was the plan, but oth­ers had a dif­fer­ent idea. ʻThe car went into Spikeʼs work­shop with the in­struc­tion that I did­nʼt want a restora­tion, but a sim­ple re­paint. I told him that I did­nʼt want to get a phone call in a few days telling me it needs a resto…ʼ Spike, though, had other ideas.

ʻSpikeʼ is Andy Finch, a long­time VW en­thu­si­ast and one of the best paint and body­work ex­perts around. His busi­ness, Spikeʼs Vin­tage Restora­tions, is based in Mal­don in Es­sex and has been pro­duc­ing award-win­ning cars for many years. Andy (or rather Spike, as he is uni­ver­sally known) is not one to cut corners, so Phil was on a hid­ing to noth­ing try­ing to per­suade him to do a quick blow-over…

ʻA week or so went by and I fended off the first phone call,ʼ laughs Phil, ʻthen a few days later Spike called me again and said I needed to se­ri­ously think about do­ing this prop­erly as the car was prov­ing to be a lot bet­ter than weʼd first thought.ʼ Now you could be for­given for think­ing that if the car was rock solid, then a quick blow over would be fine, but Spike wanted to make the most of a solid foun­da­tion and do the re­paint prop­erly. Phil de­cided to go and take a look.

ʻI went up to the work­shop and dis­cov­ered that around a third of the car had al­ready been bare-met­alled, show­ing that, un­der the badly ap­plied red paint, there was solid fac­tory-orig­i­nal met­al­work with hardly a sign of rot at all,ʼ says Phil. ʻWe de­cided to go ahead and re­move the rest of the paint and dis­cov­ered that the car was “match­ing num­bers” in terms of its body pan­els – the doors, bon­net and en­gine lid all car­ried the same se­rial num­ber stamp­ing as the body.ʼ

So, from be­ing a quick re­paint it turned into a full bare-

metal re­so­ra­tion. As it turns out, only the door bot­toms needed a lit­tle at­ten­tion, as did one of the sills, but apart from that the bodyshell proved to be rock-solid. As for the me­chan­ics, well, things turned out just as well: ʻI put some new front shocks on the car, but that was all!ʼ smiles Phil, th­ese be­ing Bil­steins to match those fit­ted at the rear.

Records show that the 356A coupé had come from the fac­tory back in 1958 painted the very at­trac­tive Meis­sen Blue which, as Phil puts it, ʻwould have been the puristsʼ choiceʼ but he had other plans. ʻIʼd had a 1959 356A once be­fore which had been painted Aetna Blue, which is sim­i­lar to Meis­sen Blue, and I was­nʼt keen on yet another pale blue Porsche. I looked at some colour swatches for 356s of that era and hit upon Turk­ish Red, but a few days later I was look­ing on line and came across Ter­ra­cotta, which is a 1955 colour. OK, itʼs not right for the model year but I like it and thatʼs what counts!ʼ

The bare bodyshell was primered in colour-matched epoxy primer, af­ter which it was primered again, flat­ted and then sprayed with high-build primer be­fore the fi­nal rub down and another coat of primer. The Ter­ra­cotta was then ap­plied, fol­lowed by a clear coat on top for a mile-deep shine. ʻIt looked amaz­ing once it was painted,ʼ says Phil, ʻbut as soon as we started putting it all back to­gether, the idea of adding the black stripe came up, fol­lowed by the gold de­tail­ing. I es­pe­cially like the gold bon­net han­dle as it looks like itʼs been an­odised – I love the de­tails added to the num­ber plate light, too. ʻWe were go­ing to pol­ish the alu­minium brake drums but we made the de­ci­sion to paint them gold, too. I think it works re­ally well against the black steel­ies and whitelet­tered tyres…ʼ The lat­ter may not be to ev­ery­oneʼs taste, ad­mit­tedly, but itʼs the kind of de­tail­ing that sets Phil Jarvisʼs car apart from many other out­law 356s. Itʼs also a tip of the

“I CAME ACROSS TER­RA­COTTA, WHICH IS A 1955 COLOUR”

hat to ear­lier days of hot-rod­ding when white-let­tered tyres were the new thing, or to race cars which al­ways used to have let­tered tyre side­walls.

As for the gold drums, well they tie in nicely with the other touches, such as the pin­stripes ei­ther side of the black stripe and the ʻFrench-specʼ yel­low head­lamp lenses and turn sig­nals. And did you spot the blank­ing cov­ers made to con­ceal the bumper mount­ing holes on the front and rear aprons? A neat way to tidy things up while still al­low­ing the op­tion of in­stalling bumpers at a later date.

The in­te­rior was re­turned pretty much to stan­dard with the no­table ex­cep­tion of the front seats, which have been re­placed with Speed­ster buck­ets – but not just any Speed­ster bucket seats. Those in Philʼs car have been given the works by Spike and his crew, with the backs be­ing painted in satin black, while the sides are now body colour, with the back­rests and seat pads trimmed in black to match the back seat and door cards. This was car­ried out by An­thony Ward at Dub­hol­stery. The steer­ing wheel has also been re­stored and fin­ished in gloss black.

The restora­tion was car­ried out over an amaz­ingly quick three month pe­riod, a rate of work which gives an in­di­ca­tion of how en­thu­si­as­tic Spike and the team were about the project. Af­ter all, it was at their in­sis­tence that Philʼs car re­ceived the ʻfull mon­tyʼ rather than a brisk blow-over.

The car ʼs first trip out was to the Sil­ver­stone Clas­sic event, fol­lowed soon af­ter by a drive out to Spa Fran­cor­champs, where th­ese pho­tos were taken. Un­for­tu­nately on the way there, an oil cooler seal let go, spray­ing the en­gine bay with oil! Once that was sorted, Phil looked for­ward to Clas­sics at the Cas­tle at Hed­ing­ham. The car formed part of a dis­play by Spikeʼs Vin­tage Restora­tions, which at­tracted a lot of in­ter­est as it was the first time they had ex­hib­ited at a Porsche event.

Clearly the en­gine has its heart set on mak­ing life dif­fi­cult for Phil as, just as we were go­ing to press, he posted on Face­book that, due to a car­bu­ret­tor spit­ting back, one of the foam air­fil­ters fit­ted to the af­ter­mar­ket Del­lʼorto car­bu­ret­tors caught fire. For­tu­nately Phil had a fire ex­tin­guisher to hand so the dam­age was lim­ited to the un­der­side of the en­gine lid and some tin­ware, but it does mean a trip back to Spikeʼs for some re­me­dial work.

Phil is un­der­stand­ably dis­ap­pointed but philo­soph­i­cal about the set­back. Over­all, heʼs a very happy man, though: ʻThis project would­nʼt have hap­pened with­out Spike and his teamʼs ded­i­ca­tion to their work, and with­out their knowl­edge I donʼt think the car would have looked half as good as it does now.ʼ CP

Above: From side-on the slight low­er­ing job is more ob­vi­ous. The lack of chrome trim and the black wheels give the car a stealthy look

Be­low left and right: Only when Andy Finch started to re­move the red paint did it be­come clear how sound the bodyshell was. There was none of the ex­pected rust re­pairs and filler…

Above: Speed­ster seats have been paint-matched to the ex­te­rior, with black pad­ding to match the rear seat and door cards

Be­low left and right: Once the body­work had been fet­tled (the only re­pairs needed were to the doors and sill), it was time for the high-build primer and first hand-flat­ted colour coats

Be­low: Out on the road (well, the Spa Fran­cor­champs track, ac­tu­ally) the 356A re­ally comes alive. Itʼs beau­ti­fully fin­ished and taste­fully un­der­stated

Above right: Gold bon­net han­dle, badg­ing and the yel­low head­lamps all add to the unique look

Above left: Dash­board is beau­ti­fully de­tailed, with paint­work to match the qual­ity of the ex­te­rior

Above: Prob­a­bly our favourite view of the car, the rear three-quar­ter an­gle shows any early Porscheʼs lines to per­fec­tion

Be­low left: Ev­ery cor­ner, ev­ery nook and cranny, has been fin­ished to show-qual­ity stan­dard by Spike

Be­low right: Se­bring-style ex­haust sys­tem gives the coupé a pur­pose­ful rasp. Check the yel­low lenses on the re­vers­ing and num­ber plate lights…

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