With around 35 em­ploy­ees, CPR Clas­sic proves to be the largest spe­cial­ist ca­ter­ing to the restora­tion of vin­tage Porsches in the United States. Based on this en­tic­ing premise, a visit to the fa­bled Cal­i­for­nian com­pany by Clas­sic Porsche seemed a nat­u­ral –

Classic Porsche - - Contents - Words & Pho­tos:stephan Szan­tai

Clas­sic Porsche vis­its Cal­i­for­nia Porsche Restora­tion for a touch of CPR


Ar­riv­ing at 501 In­dus­trial Way in the scenic city of Fall­brook, the vis­i­tor will be greeted by a friendly staff and a cou­ple of dozen Porsches, pre­dom­i­nantly pre-1990 mod­els, all for sale. Wel­come to CPR Clas­sicʼs show­room! Al­though the build­ing leaves most guests in awe, it rep­re­sents only a tip of the ice­berg… Walk a quar­ter of a mile and you will reach the restora­tion fa­cil­ity, home to an­other 70 clas­sic Porsches.

Some are in a thou­sand pieces, oth­ers al­most ready to de­liver to their cus­tomers – and the re­main­ing projects are some­where in be­tween. Over­all, the car sales and restora­tion di­vi­sions ac­count for 45,000 square-feet, an im­pres­sive area for such a spe­cialised com­pany.

What a jour­ney this has been for CPR Clas­sic – thatʼs short for Cal­i­for­nia Porsche Restora­tion Clas­sic – since it opened in 1977! That year, Brian Do­herty and his brothers launched an in­de­pen­dent Porsche ser­vice cen­tre in Man­hat­tan Beach, near Los An­ge­les. Nei­ther 356s or 911s in­ter­ested re­stor­ers dur­ing the 1970s, hence the daily chores re­volved around reg­u­lar re­pairs and main­te­nance.

As the busi­ness con­tin­ued to grow, the brothers found them­selves in a work­shop that was ready to burst at the seams. Rent­ing a larger fa­cil­ity in the coastal city re­mained an ex­pen­sive op­tion, hence the de­ci­sion to re­lo­cate fur­ther south in the early 1990s, closer to San Diego, in Fall­brook.

Yet again, more cus­tomers came to CPR Clas­sic, lead­ing to an­other move just a few miles away in an in­dus­trial com­plex in 2007. Guess what… Space, or lack thereof, was once again an is­sue, lead­ing to the pur­chase of the ad­join­ing build­ings!

As a re­sult, the com­pa­nyʼs cur­rent lay­out might strike Euro­pean vis­i­tors as sur­pris­ing, since ac­tiv­i­ties are spread in mul­ti­ple com­mer­cial shops rather than a sin­gle large struc­ture as you might ex­pect. This ar­range­ment cre­ated by ne­ces­sity turned out to serve CPR Clas­sic well, as each unit within the sev­eral build­ings con­cen­trates on spe­cific tasks. Dis­man­tling, col­li­sion re­pair, body restora­tion, prepa­ra­tion, un­der­coat­ing, paint, plat­ing, gear­box re­fur­bish­ing and more – this place has it all.

As you might ex­pect, em­ploy­ees use a va­ri­ety of tra­di­tional tools, such as English wheels, plus spot welders as seen at the Porsche fac­tory. One of the build­ings houses a cou­ple of units solely ded­i­cated to putting the fi­nal touches on 356s and 911s. They sit far from the area that gen­er­ates

the most dust and sand.

An­other shop han­dles the en­gi­nesʼ assem­bly, from bone stock to hot-rod­ded, as ex­em­pli­fied by the trick 2123cc Polopo­lus flat-four we dis­cov­ered dur­ing our visit. This amaz­ing pow­er­plant en­gi­neered by Dean Polopo­lus sev­eral years ago mixes a se­lec­tion of 911 com­po­nents and mo­ti­vates a bunch of 356s to­day. Be­hind the clean work­benches, the back of the unit wel­comes sev­eral shelves packed with flat-four and -six en­gines, ready to be re­built, or used as ʻdonorsʼ.

As a side note and as men­tioned ear­lier, Brian Do­herty was in­stru­men­tal in start­ing CPR Clas­sic. His love for Porsches stems from a stay in Ger­many, be­ing sta­tioned in Europe af­ter he got out of the Viet­nam war. He then did his ap­pren­tice­ship at the Porsche fac­tory, lead­ing to a po­si­tion as field ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the United States. He re­tired from the busi­ness a few years ago, while his daugh­ter and son have taken over the op­er­a­tion.

An­drea joined the team in 2007 and pur­chased the com­pany two years later – she now over­sees over 30 em­ploy­ees. Dy­lan Do­herty has worked full time at CPR Clas­sic since 2010, though he has great mem­o­ries of scrap­ing paint off cars af­ter school as a young teenager. He re­mained in­volved with the firm all through his high school and col­lege years, even­tu­ally be­com­ing sales man­ager.

Whilst An­drea runs the busy shop area, Dy­lanʼs time is


ded­i­cated to the sep­a­rate afore­men­tioned di­vi­sion of the com­pany that spe­cialises in the sales of ve­hi­cles. This deal­er­ship, lo­cated in a sep­a­rate brick build­ing, opened four years ago and in­cludes the show­room, as well as of­fices and an­other assem­bly room, re­served spe­cially for a few of the nicest project cars.

In the show­room, 911s rep­re­sent the bulk of the of­fer­ings, though you might no­tice some 356s here and there, plus a small num­ber of vin­tage Mer­cedes. (CPR Clas­sic has been in­volved with the sales of the brand for sev­eral years, work­ing in part­ner­ship with a spe­cial­ist based in Ari­zona.) Dy­lan men­tioned to us that the firm has re­cently sold a hand­ful of de­sir­able mod­els, too, such as a 550 Spy­der and two 906s. A few years ago, CPR Clas­sic still worked on a pretty much equal num­ber of 356s and pre-1974 911s. How­ever, the lat­ter now rep­re­sent about 70 per cent of the on­go­ing restora­tions, which re­flects to­dayʼs sky-high value of these mod­els. We also no­ticed sev­eral 912s and 914/6s on site, as the Do­her­tys will ac­cept such projects; how­ever, they still re­main some­what un­usual, be­ing less col­lectible.

The com­pany has be­come well known for its high-qual­ity back-to-stock restora­tions, us­ing fac­tory parts when pos­si­ble.


If not, the team will se­lect the best re­place­ments avail­able. But what about out­law Porsches? Recog­nis­ing that the mar­ket is chang­ing and that cus­tomers will hap­pily spend big on hot-rods, CPR Clas­sic has cho­sen to ex­plore this mar­ket, though they veer away from slant nose con­ver­sions, 930 Turbo looka­likes and even af­ter­mar­ket car­bon-fi­bre good­ies – the crew sim­ply prefers us­ing qual­ity Ger­man Porsche parts. We saw the re­sult of their ra­tio­nale in the shape of an all­steel 1972 911S/T re­cre­ation, equipped with a 3.2-litre short­stroke MFI en­gine, 917-style brakes and Ele­phant Rac­ing sus­pen­sion com­po­nents.

Through great busi­ness de­ci­sions and pure Porsche drive, the Do­herty fam­ily has brought the com­pany to the next level, re­sult­ing in a most im­pres­sive fa­cil­ity. When Brian and his brothers opened their first small shop in 1977, they prob­a­bly did not ex­pect see­ing around 100 old Porsches be­ing pam­pered by a crew of 35 at CPR Clas­sic, a lit­tle over four decades later! CP


Above: Row upon row of clas­sic Porsches await their turn. Whether for sale or for restora­tion, there’s al­ways around 100 cars on site!

Be­low left: Steve Cul­ver (Di­rec­tor of Op­er­a­tions & Spe­cial Projects) stands next to a 1972 911S/T re­cre­ation with all steel body, 3.2 MFI en­gine and 917-style brakes

Be­low right: Sales man­ager Dy­lan Do­herty races these 914/6s in vin­tage rac­ing

Above: Cal­i­for­nia Porsche Restora­tion has around 35 peo­ple on its pay­roll! At the cen­tre of the group photo is An­drea Do­herty, owner of the com­pany and daugh­ter of its founder, Brian

Be­low left: Freshly painted bodyshells ready for fit­ting up – as you can see, CPR is a pretty busy op­er­a­tion, with no short­age of work!

Be­low right: There’s a ded­i­cated 356 assem­bly room, which is al­ways busy

Im­pres­sive is the only way to de­scribe the sight that greets you as you en­ter CPR Clas­sic’s show­room in Fall­brook, to the south of Los An­ge­les. There’s some­thing to sat­isfy every taste

Clock­wise from top left: Ex­ten­sive restora­tion project in the form of a 1959 356A coupé; a 1962 356A Road­ster in for the full works; this is the room set aside for 911 re­builds; 1958 coupé on the ro­tis­serie

Left: En­gine assem­bly room; De­sean Kop­unic (right) is work­ing on a four-cylin­der 2123cc Polopo­lus mo­tor

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