THEUSUAL SUS­PECTS WISH YOUWERE HERE?

911&PWWRITERS It’s a small world, says Chris Hor­ton, ru­mi­nat­ing on shared au­to­mo­tive and aero­nau­ti­cal in­ter­ests, and a chance meet­ing with a fel­low 911&Pw­con­trib­u­tor in the wilds of north Wales. Plus: never mind Big Brother; who will be record­ing your Por

911 Porsche World - - Letters -

Life of­ten seems to be full of the most in­trigu­ing co-in­ci­dences, es­pe­cially when you add clas­sic cars to the equa­tion. Those of you who are also Porsche Club GB mem­bers might re­call that from early 2014 to around the mid­dle of 2017 I did some work on that or­gan­i­sa­tion’s monthly mag­a­zine, Porsche Post.

One of my most en­joy­able as­sign­ments dur­ing that pe­riod was vis­it­ing John Arnold in Stafford­shire, to hear the re­mark­able story of how he had repa­tri­ated his late un­cle’s 1962-model, right-hand­drive 356B from the wilds of ru­ral Ore­gon, in the far north-western cor­ner of the United States, and was then in the early stages of restor­ing it. (Said un­cle was none other than Arthur Sh­effield, one of the found­ing mem­bers of Porsche Club GB.) Dur­ing our con­ver­sa­tion, we dis­cov­ered – via Con­corde jet en­gines, and then the Rover Com­pany-built APUS, or Aux­il­iary Power Units, fit­ted to Vul­can bombers – a shared in­ter­est in early Rover 2000s. And, thanks to yet an­other co-in­ci­dence, that each of us owns one such car, with an ‘Xc’-suf­fix reg­is­tra­tion num­ber, that once be­longed to our re­spec­tive late fa­thers – John’s dad, Ed­ward (Ted), hav­ing been a Rover em­ployee at Soli­hull from 1958 to 1983.

My car, GXC 186C, bought brand-new by my par­ents in 1965, has been off the road for the greater part of its now 53-year life, but hav­ing been stored un­der cover – in at least three dif­fer­ent places – it is in sur­pris­ingly good struc­tural con­di­tion. It was, in the­ory, go­ing to be made fully sound again by a welder friend of mine here in Ox­ford­shire, but around 18 months ago it ap­peared that he was about to lose his work­shop, and so the project ground to a halt. I men­tioned my predica­ment to John one day, and to cut a longish story short a few weeks later he very kindly drove down and towed my car back to the safe haven of his own ex­ten­sive work­shop – and where it now stands right next to AXC 179B. (They prob­a­bly had quite a lot to talk about…)

The plan, since AXC un­sur­pris­ingly has much the same (rel­a­tively mi­nor) rust is­sues as GXC, is to have both ve­hi­cles welded more or less si­mul­ta­ne­ously, by the same welder and fab­ri­ca­tor. Who, by a fur­ther co­in­ci­dence, is on the same ru­ral site near Ke­nil­worth in War­wick­shire, barely a dozen miles from Soli­hull, where the cars were built, as in­de­pen­dent Porsche spe­cial­ist and dis­man­tler Paul Wool­lard. And which site, be­fore I had even heard of Paul, I had on sev­eral oc­ca­sions vis­ited through my part-time job de­liv­er­ing farm sup­plies on a lorry. Hon­estly, I’m not mak­ing this up.

Any­way, the point of all this is partly to record for pos­ter­ity my huge in­debt­ed­ness and grat­i­tude to John Arnold for his con­tin­u­ing sup­port, but also to serve as an in­tro­duc­tion to the ac­com­pa­ny­ing im­ages – show­ing the front and back of a post­card sent from Baden-baden (in what was then West Ger­many) by Arthur Sh­effield to John in May 1963. John showed me the card the last time I went up to see him, and gen­er­ously granted my re­quest to bor­row it to share with a wider au­di­ence. That means you!

Whether Arthur was there on Porsche Club busi­ness or in con­nec­tion with his job is un­clear (it could also have been to take his 356 back to Zuf­fen­hausen for its first ser­vice), but ei­ther way he seems to have been re­mark­ably close to what you might call the ‘in­ner cir­cle’, in­clud­ing Huschke von Hanstein and Edgar Barth – and per­haps even Ferry Porsche him­self. And it is by any stan­dard a fas­ci­nat­ing glimpse back into a more gen­teel and civilised world that has gone for ever. Read the text – which I trust will have been re­pro­duced large enough – and I think you will see what I mean.

Talk­ing of co­in­ci­dences, by the way, how about this? Last New Year’s Eve, Mrs Hor­ton and I did a spur-of-the-mo­ment, 400-mile daytrip to north Wales, for a ride on the fa­mous nar­row-gauge Ffes­tin­iog Rail­way. Choos­ing a car­riage at ran­dom for the re­turn jour­ney from Porth­madog up to Blae­nau Ffes­tin­iog, I was busily wip­ing the near-bib­li­cal rain off my cam­era with a sod­den hand­ker­chief when I heard a fa­mil­iar voice say, ‘It’s Mr Hor­ton, isn’t it!’ And there stood none other than Paul Davies, 911 Car­rera 3.2 owner of this parish, and a con­trib­u­tor to 911 & Porsche World since I first used some of his work way back in the early 2000s – and whom I hadn’t seen for per­haps three years. He and Mrs Davies and some friends were, per­haps more sen­si­bly, mak­ing a week­end of it, and stay­ing in a nearby ho­tel. It is, in­deed, a small world!

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