DOWN UN­DER DE­LIGHT

Like a good wine, Ge­off Starkeyʼs Oslo Blue 356B coupé gets bet­ter with age, cul­mi­nat­ing in win­ning top slot in the Aus­tralian 356 Clubʼs 2017 show­case pa­rade held in Mel­bourne at the end of 2017

Classic Porsche - - Contents - Words & pho­tos: Richard Holdsworth Ad­di­tional pho­tos: Ge­off Starkey

The story of an Aus­tralian 356 from day one to the present day

The stun­ning blue 356B you see here – one of the first in Aus­tralia and New Zealand – has en­joyed a series of lov­ing own­ers and cur­rent cus­to­dian Ge­off Starkey could­nʼt cher­ish the car more. ʻThis is my pride and joy,ʼ he says. Porsche 356T6B, chas­sis num­ber 122178, was or­dered by Hamil­tons, the Aus­tralian Porsche dis­trib­u­tors, in early 1962 and ac­corded fac­tory or­der num­ber 530. It was com­pleted on 17 Oc­to­ber 1962, and Hamil­tons re­ceived the car just a few weeks later. It was the 19th 356T6B to be des­tined for ei­ther Aus­tralia or New Zealand (only 44 in to­tal came to what was re­garded as one mar­ket in those days), the first ar­riv­ing in Fe­bru­ary 1962 and the last in July 1963.

The op­tional ex­tras or­dered by Hamil­tons (and still part of the spec to­day) are in­ter­est­ing; green tint wind­shield, chrome-plated wheels, head rests, arm rests, horn ring, elas­tic oc­to­pus rear com­part­ment hooks and Tal­bot Ber­lin driver ʼs mir­ror. And right-hand-drive, of course, with in­stru­men­ta­tion in English. The fac­tory colour, Oslo Blue, is also true to this day, as is the red trim.

All this in­for­ma­tion has been dug up by Ge­off Starkey, the car ʼs sixth owner, but Ge­off ad­mits to be­ing some­thing of a Porsche sleuth and es­pe­cially so when his own cars are con­cerned – and there have been many of them! Just take a look at some from the list start­ing with 356s – a 1957 356A coupé that has en­joyed time on the race track, three 1962 356Bs, one of which was USA de­liv­ered but brought to Aus­tralia and con­verted to right-hand-drive.

Four 356Cs, all 1964 built, all coupés with the first be­ing Ge­of­fʼs foray into Porsche own­er­ship ʻThen the bug bit…ʼ All were in Light Ivory al­though one was orig­i­nally fin­ished in Ir­ish Green and was im­ported into South Africa.

There have been five, yes five, 356Bs, one of which was a 1960 Slate Grey RHD Aus­tralian-de­liv­ered car later re­stored to Gold Medal level by Ge­of­fʼs brother, Colin. The other four were made up of three Su­per 90s, a 356B coupé in Ruby red (ʻa project car ʼ), one in Sil­ver and the last in Slate Grey.

More re­cent ma­chin­ery has in­cluded a 1982 Targa 911, a 1987 911 con­vert­ible and 1989 coupé in glo­ri­ous Guards Red. And cur­rently Ge­off is restor­ing a 1957 RHD Speed­ster that had been ʻworked onʼ by the pre­vi­ous owner, stripped to bare metal for restora­tion and then left in the open and un­touched for 40 years. ʻItʼs in sur­pris­ingly good con­di­tion,ʼ Ge­off tells me. ʻA chal­lenge, but one I en­joy – I aim to make the car as good as new when I have the work fin­ished…ʼ

Ge­off re­searches the his­tory of cars he finds worth lav­ish­ing his time and at­ten­tion on, cars that have not been in­volved in se­ri­ous ac­ci­dents or abused in any other way and it makes fas­ci­nat­ing read­ing for the early Porsche en­thu­si­ast.

And for those who werenʼt aware, the T6B was (log­i­cally) a devel­op­ment of the T5B. Porsche 356 afi­ciona­dos will iden­tify the slightly re­vised roofline of the T6B – this to ac­com­mo­date larger front and rear win­dows (on the coupé only), the coupé also re­ceiv­ing a slightly larger en­gine lid, now twin grilles, the lat­ter also fea­tur­ing on all other mod­els across the range. There was also a larger lid for the front boot. Then Porsche added air in­take grilles for­ward of the front screen on all mod­els ex­cept the Road­ster, and for the driver and pas­sen­ger there was the lux­ury of cen­tral dash­board vent con­trols. New model em­blems in a block style – 60, S, and 90 – iden­ti­fied the en­gines.

But back to Ge­of­fʼs cur­rent pride and joy, chas­sis num­ber 122178. As soon as the car ar­rived with Hamil­tons in Mel­bourne, 122178 was shipped to sub-dealer, Pein Mo­tors up in Bris­bane, Queens­land, where it was pur­chased by Theo Rein­hold, a man who owned and op­er­ated the Rover Mower com­pany based in Ea­gle Farm, an in­dus­trial sub­urb

of Bris­bane. The newly de­liv­ered Porsche car­ried the reg­is­tra­tion num­ber NQW 109 and be­came Theo Rein­holdʼs com­pany car.

It would be nice to re­port a happy end­ing to the tale and all in the gar­den rosy for the new Porsche, but the four­cylin­der Su­per 1600 en­gine did not run smoothly – thence start­ing much mail cor­re­spon­dence be­tween Theo Rein­hold and Hamil­tons (no e-mail in those days!). But cor­re­spon­dence did not ef­fect a rem­edy and in the end Theo drove down to Hamil­tons – a mere 2000-mile round-trip – and fronted up at the com­pa­nyʼs work­shop!

Porsches ʻDown Un­der ʼ were in their in­fancy in those days – when the au­thor bought his Su­per 1600 Speed­ster in the early 1960s, it was said there were fewer than 50 in the whole coun­try. But for­tu­nately, Hamil­tons em­ployed an ex­cel­lent work­shop, Car­rera Mo­tors, un­der the man­age­ment of one John Gre­gory and John got the en­gine run­ning to per­fec­tion to the ex­tent the car was re­turned to him from Bris­bane (an­other 2000 miles on the clock!) for any ser­vice and main­te­nance work.

Maybe Theo Rein­hold got fed up with this ar­range­ment and sold the car to one John Gre­gory, and the first thing he did was to pull the en­gine apart, carry out some port­ing and pol­ish­ing and also in­stall a new four-pipe ex­trac­tor sys­tem and muf­fler. Much more dra­matic was the sub­sti­tu­tion of the plain-bear­ing crank­shaft with a roller-bear­ing unit!

Into the pic­ture now comes Dante (Don) Castaldi who worked at an ad­join­ing car deal­er­ship – he had just sold a Bris­tol 401 and was look­ing for a sec­ond-hand Jaguar E-type. In his search, he was hav­ing a cof­fee with Alan Hamil­ton (the dealer prin­ci­ple at Hamil­tons) when John Gre­gory swept into view in the Oslo Blue 356B. The car had a chipped wind­screen. ʻFix that wind­screen and the car ʼs mine…ʼ Thus Don Castaldi be­came owner num­ber three. The year was 1965.

Don was tak­ing up a new po­si­tion as ho­tel man­ager in Ho­bart, across the Tas­man Sea in Tas­ma­nia and nat­u­rally 122178 went with him. Tas­ma­nia is a small is­land with hills and val­leys and twist­ing roads, not un­like Si­cily where Porsches ex­celled in the Targa Flo­rio. Don tells how, ʻThe car took to the Tas­ma­nian roads like a duck to wa­ter…ʼ He had raced in the Aus­tralian Arm­strong 500 and the car with Don be­hind the wheel en­joyed life to the full, but with mar­riage on the hori­zon and a house to buy, the Porsche even­tu­ally had to go.

Owner num­ber four was Gary Clarke, an­other Tas­ma­nian, and the car stayed on the is­land – and re­mained there for an­other 36 years, only be­ing used for spe­cial trips and adding a mere 20,000 miles to the ex­ist­ing 50,000. The car re­mained in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion – owner num­ber four giv­ing it the same lov­ing care as its pre­vi­ous three. Mi­nor work was car­ried out – the en­gine tin­ware painted while some other en­gine parts were chromed.

Gary Clarke was a panel beater and dur­ing his own­er­ship of the 356B he de­cided to re­paint the car. He did this metic­u­lously – tak­ing all of five years! The car emerged from his paint shop in the same fac­tory Oslo Blue and even the in­side of the doors rubbed down and painted to the same

“FIX THAT WIND­SHIELD AND THE CAR’S MINE…”

gleam­ing stan­dard as the ex­te­rior. By now the roller-bear­ing crank had be­come noisy and was changed back to the stan­dard plain-bear­ing type.

I have said that Tas­ma­nia bears some re­sem­blance to Si­cily but, un­like the Ital­ian is­land, it still has a race. This is known by all Porsche own­ers in Aus­tralia as Targa Tas­ma­nia (the race at­tracts Porsches and their own­ers from through­out Aus­tralia) and one such com­peti­tor was Mark Tuckey of Mark Tuckey Fur­ni­ture in Syd­ney with an­other 356T5B, a 1960-built car.

Porsche own­ers en­gage in con­ver­sa­tion at every op­por­tu­nity and one such be­tween Gary Clarke and Mark re­sulted in Mark buy­ing the car and 122178 re­turn­ing to the Main­land and to Syd­ney. The year was 2011. Lo­cal dealer, PR Tech­nolo­gies to the north of Syd­ney, main­tained 122178 for the next five years, in which time the ex­haust muf­fler was re­placed, a new clutch fit­ted, along with a new set of tyres.

Now Ge­off Starkey, the sixth and cur­rent owner, comes into the pic­ture. Ge­off bought the car from Mark on 11 Novem­ber 2016 and now uses 122178 as his club car. In Fe­bru­ary 2017 while driv­ing home, a young lady ran into the back of the car while on her mo­bile phone. For­tu­nately, it was not a heavy ʻshuntʼ and only the bumper was dam­aged, the body­work re­mained un­scathed. The lady was very apolo­getic!

Ge­off took 122178 to a top Porsche panel shop in

“A YOUNG LADY DROVE INTO THE BACK OF THE CAR”

Syd­ney, Ex­clu­sive Body Werks, owned by Ron Good­man. Ron stripped and checked the body and en­gine and re­fin­ished 122178 to fac­tory spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

As a point of in­ter­est, four years ear­lier, Ron Good­man had come into the pos­ses­sion of the Su­per 1600 Speed­ster which be­longed to the au­thor in the 1960s when liv­ing in Ade­laide and work­ing as a budding jour­nal­ist.

The Speed­ster was used as daily trans­port, plus for hill climb­ing and club track rac­ing. I had seen the car on the fore­court of Cham­pi­ons, the Ade­laide Rover deal­ers, raided my piggy bank and swapped in my year-old VW Bee­tle, only sell­ing the Speed­ster when my Aussie bride and I took off for the UK a few years later.

The car is now owned by an en­thu­si­ast in Or­ange, New South Wales. (The story of me and the Speed­ster in those early days was told in is­sue #35 of Clas­sic Porsche).

Ge­off Starkeyʼs Oslo Blue 356B, now re­s­plen­dent from its at­ten­tion at Ex­clu­sive Body Werks, set off on the 550-mile jour­ney from Syd­ney on the last days of Novem­ber 2017 for the Aus­tralian 356 Regis­ter and Club An­nual Pa­rade held at Coma Park in Mel­bourne, where the car took top hon­ours.

Ge­off tells me it rained most of the way down but the 356B per­formed per­fectly, ʻand not a leak any­whereʼ. The bonus, of course, was tak­ing the top hon­ours, Best Car in the Show… ʻIt was an even more sat­is­fy­ing drive back to Syd­ney, he grins!

Nowa­days, 356T6B, chas­sis num­ber 122178, is as good as new, if not bet­ter! The car has cov­ered a mere 74,300 miles, never in­volved in any se­ri­ous ac­ci­dent, and metic­u­lously main­tained. Ge­off Starkey is a lucky man! Or does he make his own luck? CP

“THE BONUS WAS TAK­ING THE TOP HON­OURS… ”

Above: At one point in its life, the en­gine was re­built with a roller-bear­ing crank­shaft, but now re­lies on a reg­u­lar plain­bear­ing type

Be­low: Orig­i­nal red in­te­rior is as good as new. Ex­tras in­clude head­rests and arm rests, both spec­i­fied at the time of or­der­ing – the speedometer is cal­i­brated in miles-per-hour

Above: The 356B poses be­fore the wa­ter at Akuna Bay in the New South Wales Ku-ring-gai Na­tional Park

Left: Chas­sis num­ber 122178 shortly af­ter de­liv­ery to Theo Rein­hold in Bris­bane, Aus­tralia, in Oc­to­ber 1962

Be­low left: Danta (Don) Castaldi be­came the third owner of 122178, tak­ing the car with him to Tas­ma­nia Be­low: Orig­i­nal Kardex lists op­tions and date of de­liv­ery to Aus­tralian im­porter

Above: Ge­off Starkey stands proudly by his fifty-five year old 356B with a tro­phy that says ʻCar of the Showʼ at the 2017 Aus­tralian 356 Club An­nual Pa­rade

Be­low: The car re­ceived a re­paint in the orig­i­nal fac­tory colour, Oslo Blue, fol­low­ing a mi­nor ac­ci­dent. The work was car­ried out metic­u­lously by Ron Good­man at Syd­ney­based Ex­clu­sive Body Werks

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