PAINT TO SAM­PLE

A re­stored 1967 911S that left the fac­tory in a unique colour

Classic Porsche - - Contents - Words: Keith Seume Pho­tos: Antony Fraser and Garry Hall

Sit­ting for­lornly in the back gar­den of a sub­ur­ban semi, the yel­low-hued 911 was a sorry sight. Garry Hall had been tipped off about the car some while be­fore, hav­ing been on the look­out for an early short­wheel­base 911 for some time – ideally that Holy Grail, a 911S. Liv­ing in Sur­rey, it was only a short trip down the road to Bog­nor Regis in Sus­sex where the car lan­guished for­got­ten and unloved on jack stands in a state of only par­tial com­plete­ness.

At first sight it was a mess, and at sec­ond sight it was even worse. Although he was as­sured it was com­plete, it lacked the doors, en­gine, in­te­rior and rear bumper, all of which had been re­moved at the start of a long-aban­doned re­build. Worse still, the iden­tity of the car had been hid­den un­der a pre­vi­ous owner ʼs at­tempt at build­ing an Rsr-in­spired hot-rod. Wide front and rear wings, glass­fi­bre bon­net and bumpers, wider than stock Fuchs wheels, all con­spired to hide the real truth: this was ac­tu­ally a 1967 911S. And a right-hand drive one at that.

It was owned by a long­time VW col­lec­tor who had run out of steam, hav­ing pur­chased the car as a project some ten years ear­lier but never quite got round to fin­ish­ing (or barely even start­ing) the re­build. Garry was un­fazed by its con­di­tion, and his level of ex­cite­ment grew when he dis­cov­ered that the car came with its orig­i­nal en­gine, al­beit in a very sorry state, and doors stamped with the last three dig­its of the chas­sis num­ber, show­ing them to be the orig­i­nals. It was a true ʻdi­a­mond in the roughʼ, and it took Garry sev­eral weeks to close the deal – but it was worth it.

The car was taken back to the lockup shared with friends where Garry pro­ceeded to be­gin the big tear down. It did­nʼt take long for him to re­alise that this was go­ing to be a ma­jor restora­tion, for the bodyshell was in worse con­di­tion than first thought. Mind you, as it had sat ne­glected, ex­posed to the el­e­ments for so long, this came as no real sur­prise. The first thing that be­came ob­vi­ous was that the (or ʻaʼ) pre­vi­ous owner had de­lighted in the use of Bondo, with sig­nif­i­cant amounts be­ing used to carry out what might loosely be de­scribed

as re­pairs. Never a good sign. But it got worse.

As Garry tore into the car, some­times lit­er­ally, he dis­cov­ered more and more ev­i­dence of near ter­mi­nal rust. Cut­ting away the outer sills re­vealed rot in the heater chan­nels, while the floors and fuel tank sup­port all showed ev­i­dence of ad­vanced cor­ro­sion. The front slam panel had been butchered, too, crudely mod­i­fied to al­low the use of a later short bon­net/hood and latch. It was not a pretty sight, leav­ing Garry no op­tion other than to have the bodyshell blasted to re­veal the full ex­tent of the dam­age.

His re­search – helped by the fact that the orig­i­nal green log book (pre V5C days!) came to light – al­lowed him to make con­tact with past own­ers, which turned up some old faded pho­tos of the ʻSʼ in its early days, with proud owner stand­ing along­side. Slightly alarm­ingly, one rear three-quar­ter view showed the car sit­ting de­cid­edly lop-sided, ev­i­dence per­haps of a bro­ken tor­sion bar – or worse. A later photo, taken some­time in the 1980s when such things were all the rage (the 911 changed hands for just £500 – how times have changed), show the car be­ing sub­jected to a ʻfor­ward dateʼ, with im­pact-style glass­fi­bre bumpers and wide wings, the first stages of the ʻRsr-alikeʼ build that led to the aban­doned project Garry even­tu­ally dis­cov­ered. A ʻRoth­mansʼ de­cal on the rear bumper was a clue as to the time pe­riod in which the butch­ery took place…

With the car stripped, next on the list was to put the ʼshell in the hands of two well-es­tab­lished names in the Porsche restora­tion busi­ness: Ch­ester­ton Coach­works in Ox­ford­shire, and Can­ford Clas­sics in Dorset. Can­ford stripped the body, ar­ranged to have it blasted and rounded up the pan­els needed for the restora­tion. On its re­turn from the blasters, the ʼshell re­sem­bled a colan­der, with more holes than the finest Bel­gian lace, but at least ev­ery­one knew where they stood. ʻThe bodyshell was de­liv­ered to Ch­ester­ton Coach­works to be re­built and aligned as per fac­tory spec,ʼ re­calls Garry. ʻTh­ese guys re­ally know their stuff so I was look­ing for­ward to it all moving grace­fully for­ward from here.ʼ Fa­mous last words? Weʼll see…

In the mean­time, Alan Drayson at Can­ford Clas­sics took on the task of restor­ing the sus­pen­sion and driv­e­train com­po­nents, strip­ping, pow­der-coat­ing and plat­ing as nec­es­sary. North Hol­ly­wood Speedome­ters were en­trusted with the task of restor­ing the gauges, and an amaz­ing job they did, too (as al­ways, it seems). Garry also tried his hand at zinc plat­ing, us­ing a DIY kit to plate the many small parts that re­main (largely) out of sight, such as door lock and win­dow winder com­po­nents. If noth­ing else at this stage, the grow­ing pile of shiny ʻnewʼ parts served as in­spi­ra­tion.

And talk­ing of piles of parts, the floor of Ch­ester­tonʼs workshop be­gan re­sem­bling the parts depart­ment at a Porsche deal­er­ship in the 1960s, with an ever-in­creas­ing ar­ray of re­pair pan­els laid out in readi­ness. Many new pan­els re­quire modification to be cor­rect on an early ʼshell, all th­ese de­tails be­ing taken care of along the way.

There was plenty of ev­i­dence of past re­pairs, most hav­ing been poorly ex­e­cuted (a con­se­quence of such cars hav­ing lit­tle value in the 1970s and early ʼ80s) and re­quir­ing ex­ten­sive rec­ti­fi­ca­tion. There was one re­pair that looked puz­zling at first sight: ev­i­dence of a large sec­tion of the kick panel and seat pan be­ing cut out and then welded back in po­si­tion. Why? Well, re­mem­ber we men­tioned the pos­si­bil­ity of a bro­ken tor­sion bar ear­lier in the car ʼs life?

It turned out it was more than that, for the tor­sion tube it­self had ap­par­ently split and al­lowed the rear of the car to col­lapse. A re­pair, of sorts, had been car­ried out us­ing a piece cut from a VW Bee­tle, ne­ces­si­tat­ing chop­ping out the sec­tion of kick panel and seat pan… Need­less to say, a re­place­ment tor­sion tube was welded in place to make a per­ma­nent re­pair.

Work on the bodyshell con­tin­ued at a steady rate, with even the roof need­ing re­place­ment. For­tu­nately the vast

“THERE WAS ONE RE­PAIR THAT LOOKED PUZ­ZLING AT FIRST SIGHT…”

ma­jor­ity of pan­els were avail­able, many from Porsche them­selves, with what­ever smaller re­pair sec­tions that could­nʼt be tracked down be­ing fab­ri­cated as nec­es­sary by Ch­ester­ton Coach­works. Some of the pan­els avail­able were de­signed for use on a LHD car – a good ex­am­ple of this is the pedal box, which needed to be mod­i­fied to work on the RHD bodyshell.

Both rear quar­ters re­quired sub­stan­tial re­pair, with not only the wings but also the en­tire in­ner wing and quar­ter panel press­ing need­ing re­place­ment. The car was look­ing very sorry for it­self as it sat on Ch­ester­tonʼs Celette jig, but at least Garry knew the end re­sult would be as good as, if not bet­ter than, new. Of course, the mat­ter of just how much of the orig­i­nal car re­mains is al­ways open to de­bate on a restora­tion like this: ʻGood ques­tion,ʼ says Garry. ʻThere was al­ways go­ing to be a sac­ri­fice with this re­build, as the ʼshell was in very poor con­di­tion when I em­barked on the project. The essence of my goal was to keep as much of the orig­i­nal ʼshell as pos­si­ble but at the same time weigh up the economies of scale be­tween re­pair and re­place­ment. My es­ti­ma­tion is 50/50 with old to new…ʼ

While this work was be­ing car­ried out, Nick Full­james at Redtek was called in to take care of the en­gine re­build. Although the orig­i­nal 2.0-litre ʻsixʼ had come with the car, it had been re­moved and al­lowed to sit out­side in the el­e­ments. As a con­se­quence, the in­ter­nals were in a ter­ri­ble state, the cylin­der bores re­duced to a crusty mess, pis­tons cor­roded, and car­bu­ret­tors re­quir­ing to­tal restora­tion. For­tu­nately, Garry had man­aged to track down an­other 1967 911S en­gine in the USA, which he had shipped over and Nick sat down to build one good en­gine out of the two.

The re­place­ment en­gine had been mod­i­fied al­ready, with 90mm Arias pis­tons and match­ing cylin­ders, the crank­case hav­ing been machined to suit, re­sult­ing in a ca­pac­ity of 2.5litres when us­ing the stock 66mm-stroke crank. This ʻshort­stroke screamer ʼ com­bi­na­tion works well and should pro­vide plenty of thrills out on the open road when com­bined with the ʻSʼ cams and We­ber car­bu­ret­tors.

The trans­mis­sion was­nʼt in the rud­est of health, ei­ther, with bro­ken bear­ings and worn first gear slider and dog teeth. The best so­lu­tion here was to ship the lot off to Mike Bain­bridge at MB Porsche Engi­neer­ing in the Lake District for a full re­build, the unit be­ing re­turned in dou­ble-quick time and with a per­fect bill of health.

By now the body resto was com­ing to an end, after 600 hoursʼ labour, and a de­ci­sion had to be made about paint. When Garry ac­quired the car, it was wear­ing a very unin­spir­ing coat of in­sipid yel­low. How­ever, early pho­tos of the car showed that it was once a very dif­fer­ent colour, a metal­lic blue-green that had been spec­i­fied by the orig­i­nal owner – a ʻpaint to sam­pleʼ or­der. This led to some head scratch­ing on ev­ery­oneʼs part as no­body knew pre­cisely what the colour would have been.

For­tu­nately there were still some traces of the orig­i­nal

hue in­side the roof and on the in­ner wings. This showed it to be a very un­usual mix, which looked blue in some light, but dark turquoisey-green in oth­ers. Garry man­aged to sal­vage a small piece of the orig­i­nal metal which still wore some of the paint and had it scanned prior to get­ting some sam­ples mixed.

The task of paint­ing the re­stored bodyshell lay in the hands of Can­ford Clas­sics, who did a splen­did job. As Garry re­calls, ʻAfter some se­ri­ous prepa­ra­tion and nu­mer­ous spray outs try­ing to match the orig­i­nal “spe­cial or­der green” sup­plied by Porsche to the first owner, I was happy with the fi­nal de­ci­sion on the colour match. Can­ford Clas­sics cre­ated just what the sec­ond owner said when I first spoke to him re­gard­ing the orig­i­nal colour. His com­ments were along the lines of “some days it looks blue, and other days it looks green!”ʼ

Next fol­lowed the assem­bly of all the re­stored sus­pen­sion and driv­e­train, this work again car­ried out by Can­ford Clas­sics, who also re­stored the orig­i­nal-spec 4.5J x 15 ʻnakedʼ Fuchs wheels, now shod with 165R15 ra­di­als. Nick Full­james had fin­ished work­ing his magic and the en­gine was now com­plete and ready to in­stall, along with that fresh Mike Bain­bridge trans­mis­sion. Things were look­ing good and the resto was on the home straight.

But what about the in­te­rior? Well, it will come as no sur­prise to those who know him that Gar­ryʼs busi­ness, Classic FX, was re­spon­si­ble for the to­tal resto and re­trim of the seats, car­pets, door pan­els and head­liner – after all, it is one of the UKʼS premier Porsche-ori­ented up­hol­stery op­er­a­tions. Sim­ply put, the end re­sult is fault­less. Take a look at the web­site (ad­dress on a pre­vi­ous page) to see other ex­am­ples of their work.

The com­pleted project was first shown at last year ʼs Clas­sics at the Cas­tle event, where the un­usual colour caught ev­ery­oneʼs eye. In the bright sum­mer sun­light it glows – there is no other word for it. Who­ever de­cided upon that hue way back in 1967 de­serves a pat on the back, for it makes a very re­fresh­ing change from the more com­mon­place sil­ver or white with which many early ʻEss­esʼ left the fac­tory. As a rolling ad­vert for all the peo­ple con­cerned with its re­birth, this paint to sam­ple beauty is sec­ond to none.

08

Above: Out on the road, the right-hand drive 911S is a fun drive, es­pe­cially now it has a boost in ca­pac­ity. Those ex­tra 500cc, or so, make all the dif­fer­ence

Be­low, left and right: It should come as no sur­prise that the in­te­rior is nicely de­tailed, After all, trim­ming is Garry Hall’s spe­cial­ity

Be­low: Any early 911S is de­sir­able, but a right-hand drive ver­sion is surely the most sought after of all. Coco Mats and op­tional head­rests add the fin­ish­ing touches to a per­fect in­te­rior

Above, left and right: It’s amaz­ing how evoca­tive one let­ter can be… ‘S’ means there’s no short­age of fun once the tacho heads to­wards the 7200rpm red line

Above: See how the paint glows in the sun­shine? It looks blue here but in other lights it looks turquoisey­green. How­ever you see it, it was an in­spired choice on the part of the orig­i­nal owner

Be­low left: Redtek were re­spon­si­ble for the en­gine re­build, cre­at­ing a 2.5-litre short-stroke ‘screamer’ us­ing Arias forged pis­tons

Be­low right: Can­ford Clas­sics re­stored the 4.5J Fuchs wheels in their cor­rect ‘bare’ fin­ish

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