L.A. CON­FI­DEN­TIAL

Words: Alex Grant Pho­tog­ra­phy: Andy Tip­ping Hid­den away in a Los An­ge­les in­dus­trial es­tate, Mar­lon Gold­berg’s Work­shop 5001 is turn­ing a life­long ob­ses­sion with Porsches into world-class hot-rods

911 Porsche World - - Hot-rod 911 -

There’s an all-too-com­mon thread run­ning through the world of clas­sic cars – that the most in­ter­est­ing things fre­quently turn up in the most un­likely places. A truth that, as the lights in Work­shop 5001’s tim­ber-framed roof blink into life over the lab­o­ra­tory-clean workspace be­low, rings as true as ever. Within the sun-baked con­crete shell of this unas­sum­ing former fac­tory in an in­dus­trial cor­ner of Los An­ge­les, decades-ma­tured at­ten­tion to de­tail is turn­ing clas­sic Porsches into works of art.

Lo­cated at the heart of the Cal­i­for­nian Porsche scene, as much a home to race­bred styling and patch­work-coloured pan­els as it is con­cours-spec restora­tions, this is a busi­ness march­ing to a dif­fer­ent beat. A style em­bod­ied by its first end-toend project car; this 44-year-old 911T, a hot-rod hid­ing el­e­gantly be­neath steel wheels, nar­row arches and Nardo Grey paint. The per­fect preser­va­tion of the orig­i­nal 911’s hard-wear­ing, sharp-driv­ing sim­plic­ity, yet with some very mod­ern tricks up its sleeve.

“Too many peo­ple are build­ing big fender, stick­ered-up hot-rods,” shop owner, Mar­lon Gold­berg ex­plains, fir­ing the raceprepped en­gine to bring the coupe into the day­light. “We wanted a wolf in sheep’s cloth­ing with this car – some­thing that could blend in when nec­es­sary. It stands out to en­thu­si­asts, but to nor­mal peo­ple it’s just an old grey Porsche.”

Un­sur­pris­ingly, that eye for style comes from a long-de­vel­oped af­fec­tion with the mar­que. Grow­ing up in Bridge­hamp­ton, a coastal town on Long Is­land, New York, Porsches were an ever-present part of his ado­les­cence. Not only did his dad own a 911, but Bridge­hamp­ton Race­way used to host Porsche club events, be­fore it was turned into a golf course. The cars brought out by those track days were week­end toys – sand and stone-weath­ered streetle­gal part-time rac­ers, built to the sport pur­pose recipe book, rather than pris­tine sta­tus sym­bols.

It laid some strong foun­da­tions. When the world of work beck­oned, that child­hood love of Porsches steered the way to an ap­pren­tice­ship at An­dial, work­ing

along­side the tech­ni­cians be­hind Stuttgart’s North Amer­i­can mo­tor­sport ef­forts. Ex­pe­ri­ence which in turn led him to be­come part of the team at Singer Ve­hi­cle De­sign as it got off the ground, be­fore even­tu­ally branch­ing out on his own. Work­shop 5001, named af­ter the ad­dress of the fac­tory in which it’s housed, opened its doors in 2014 af­ter a nine-month re­fur­bish­ment process, and the ’73 T emerg­ing into the LA sun­shine is a hint of what they can of­fer. Ex­per­tise that’s al­ready at­tract­ing some rare and ex­ten­sive re­builds.

“It was pretty ratty when the client brought it to me,” says Mar­lon, step­ping out out of the cabin. “It had been painted sil­ver at some point, and it was al­ready a bit of a hot-rod with a 3.2 mo­tor from an ’86 911. Though it was rough to look at, we could tell that it was a good start­ing point.”

Of course, it’s al­ways wise to be cau­tious. As with all of the team’s projects, the shell was stripped back to bare metal, un­cov­er­ing 40 years of me­chan­i­cally sym­pa­thetic own­er­ship and no se­ri­ous rot or dam­age to worry about. Be­hind the pro­tec­tive coat­ing and un­der­neath the Nardo Grey paint – the only job not car­ried out in-house – the body was strength­ened, stitch-welded and fit­ted with a half roll cage to give it rigid­ity that 1973’s pre-cad en­gi­neer­ing could never have al­lowed. Make no mis­take, this might be built to con­cours-high stan­dards, but it’s built to be just as ca­pa­ble of carv­ing a path through Cal­i­for­nia’s canyon roads and race tracks as it is win­ning tro­phies.

It’s a mix of tal­ents that you get a real sense for once you lift the deck­lid. What’s in the back of the 911 is still based on the 3.2litre en­gine the car ar­rived with, but only loosely. Fully re­built with Car­illo rods, CP pis­tons and Mahle sleeves, it’s now dis­plac­ing 3.4-litres and run­ning a twin-plug setup and Jen­vey throt­tle bod­ies, con­trolled by a MOTEC M84 ECU. Dyno tested be­fore be­ing re­united with the body, the en­gine makes 305bhp at 7300rpm and 250lb ft torque, de­liv­ered with the un­mis­take­able warm-blooded bark of an early 911 racer on ev­ery brush of the throt­tle.

This would have put it far be­yond the abil­i­ties of the orig­i­nal chas­sis setup. Mar­lon matched the stiff­ened bodyshell with a three-way ad­justable KW coilover kit, built to hill­climb spec, with Tarett Rsr-style sway­bars and droplinks, tak­ing out a lit­tle of

the roll and arch gap in the process. There’s still a 915 gearbox at the back, but strength­ened to cope with the ex­tra power and fit­ted with a limited-slip dif­fer­en­tial to put it it use. Those body-coloured steel wheels, wrapped in pe­riod-style Avon CR6ZZ track tyres, also hide a set of ’S’ brake calipers – an early up­grade sim­i­lar to the 908’s en­durance rac­ing setup – which are plenty to bring its roughly one-ton mass to a stop when needed.

Sure, you can push the power fur­ther with a tur­bocharger, but for Mar­lon there’s noth­ing quite like that nat­u­rally-aspirated mus­cle in an early 911: “It’s awe­some to drive – the chas­sis and en­gine up­dates we’ve made give it a per­fect blend of mod­ern and vin­tage,” he says. “I wish I had more time to drive it, and I’m sure the client feels the same way. We’ve not taken it on track yet, but we might at some point so we can make changes to align­ment, sway bars etc and test it in a con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment.”

That it can mix that us­abil­ity with im­pec­ca­bly good looks makes it even more en­vi­able. Half-leather, half-tar­tan bucket seats with a Momo three-spoke wheel merge sport pur­pose with a hint of lux­ury, while help­ing to keep the weight down. The flat paint job and hub­cap-free wheels would have made an abun­dance of chrome look in­con­gru­ous – most bare metal parts here wear a brush fin­ish, matched across en­gine and trim pieces. It’s an ad­just­ment over what could have been a very dif­fer­ent look, had the client gone back to its less un­der­stated fac­tory hue.

“When we stripped the paint, we dis­cov­ered that it was orig­i­nally Royal Pur­ple,” Mar­lon tells me. “We couldn’t con­vince the client to re­turn it to that, but the Nardo Grey looks awe­some – it’s a bit like primer or a bat­tle­ship. The orig­i­nal colour in­spired the tar­tan in­side – our cars have some sim­i­lar­i­ties from one to the next, but our builds al­low more cre­ative free­dom for the clients than any­thing else on the mar­ket. They all sort of evolve dur­ing the build, as ideas pop up and changes are made.”

Not that you’d know it. Ev­ery de­tail, ev­ery part of this 911 works so per­fectly to­gether it could al­most have been crafted out of an ob­ses­sive pre-build plan. A lit­tle like the work­shop where it was re­born, there’s so much more here than a quick glance can pick out. In both cases, it’s amaz­ing what you find when you dig a lit­tle deeper. PW

They all sort of evolve dur­ing the build, as ideas pop up

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