50 shades of grey – well, two at least…

Classic Porsche - - Contents -

Icould never have a tat­too. This has noth­ing to do with my at­ti­tude to tat­toos in gen­eral but all to do with in­de­ci­sion. Given that a tat­too is ef­fec­tively per­ma­nent, how on earth do you make up your mind on what to have? Thereʼs ab­so­lutely no way I could nar­row the op­tions down to a sin­gle image – even if I was go­ing for all over graf­fiti Iʼd still find it im­pos­si­ble to com­mit to a string of images. In­de­ci­sive? Me? Iʼll let you know when I make up my mind.

And talk­ing of in­de­ci­sion. As men­tioned in ear­lier col­umns, hav­ing de­cided to change the colour of my 356 ʻstream­liner ʼ from blue to grey, Iʼve been strug­gling to choose ex­actly what shade. The re­cent block­buster novel (and film) said, there are fifty shades of grey but in fact, when you get down to it, there are far more.

Af­ter con­sid­er­able ef­fort I nar­rowed my op­tions down to two: a cur­rent Mini shade and a sim­i­lar but slightly lighter Skoda colour. The fi­nal choice has, for more than a year, os­cil­lated be­tween the two. The prob­lem be­ing that at no point have I been able to see a Mini or a Skoda sideby-side to make a full-size com­par­i­son.

Iʼve car­ried two colour swatches with me for months, sur­rep­ti­tiously plonk­ing them on parked Mi­nis to see which I pre­ferred. How­ever, a parked Skoda in the cor­rect shade has con­tin­ued to elude me. In fact an un­parked Skoda in the colour I favoured is an ex­tremely rare sight, and Iʼve even set off in pur­suit of a mov­ing Skoda hop­ing that it might per­haps be a ʻlo­calʼ, but to no avail.

The easy so­lu­tion of course would have been to stick to the orig­i­nal Adria Blue, but af­ter 40-odd years of own­er­ship I simply fan­cied a change and some­thing more in­di­vid­ual – de­spite the fact that it will al­most cer­tainly have knocked a few grand off its value when the next ʻcus­to­di­anʼ takes over. With my as­sorted other ʻmodsʼ, match­ing num­ber, Kardex fetishists will not be queu­ing to bid. Any­way, I fi­nally pressed the ʻgoʼ but­ton on Skoda F7A and held my breath.

A few weeks later a phone call from Steve Kerti, whoʼs han­dling the re­build, to say ʻItʼs paint­edʼ left me with pal­pi­ta­tions and a ner­vous ʻwhat have I done?ʼ feel­ing. A ten­ta­tive ʻWhatʼs it look like, Steve?ʼ did­nʼt so­licit the ʻDrop dead gorgeous!ʼ re­sponse that I was hop­ing for, but a far more cir­cum­spect, ʻI like it, but itʼs the cus­tomer ʼs opin­ion that mat­ters most.ʼ

The two-hour drive to the re­storer ʼs was filled with mount­ing ten­sion but much to my enor­mous relief it was love at first sight. It wonʼt please every­one but itʼs my mo­tor and I think itʼs great and that, as the man said, is all that counts. Af­ter all there are peo­ple around who like pink and ap­par­ently a few aber­rant souls who even like brown, and who am I to con­demn them? (And donʼt for­get, Ed­i­tor Seume even painted a car gold…)

Cu­ri­ously, af­ter all my hours of ago­nis­ing, Steve Kerti showed me a colour swatch that he had just re­ceived from a cus­tomer who wants his 1951 car painted in its orig­i­nal shade of ʻFash­ion Greyʼ which, as it hap­pens, was within a tint-or-two of the Skoda colour. If only Iʼd known ear­lier life might have been eas­ier. I like the ring of ʻFash­ion Greyʼ.

And talk­ing of tat­toos. For the last sev­eral months a 911 Rsr-in­spired trans­for­ma­tion has been in close com­pany with my car, re­ceiv­ing an all-over ʻtat­tooʼ in Mar­tini Rac­ing colours. To say that itʼs a work of art does­nʼt do it jus­tice. Whereas, back in the day, the stripes would have been painted on and the rest of the mi­nor ad­ver­tis­ing scat­tered around would have been de­cals of some kind, ev­ery­thing on this ʻhomageʼ has been metic­u­lously masked and hand-painted, down to the tini­est image of a spark­plug on the Bosch sticker, thatʼs not a sticker.

And, still talk­ing of tat­toos, I won­der if any race fan has yet opted for an all over Mar­tini Rac­ing liv­ery? Might sound silly but no more so than a lot of the ʻbody artʼ cur­rently in cir­cu­la­tion. If not an ʻall over ʼ a few stripes and a ʻMar­tini In­ter­na­tional Clubʼ car­touche could look pretty cool en­cir­cling a manly bi­cep. Mmmm! Iʼm half tempted my­self! Have to get a bi­cep first, though.

And talk­ing of homages. It was nice to see that the Porsche GT team had dipped into the nostal­gia bin and pro­duced a brace of stun­ning look­ing 911 RSRS for this year ʼs Le Mans 24 Hours. The class win­ning ʻPink Pigʼ liv­er­ied car did bet­ter than the 917 that in­spired it, which failed to fin­ish in 1971. Its sis­ter car, wear­ing Roth­mans colours but sans brand name, came sec­ond in class. What are the odds on a flurry of homages to the homages I won­der?

Back to my 356. Iʼm afraid that some colour choices still lie ahead. For­tu­nately the car­pet choice is fairly lim­ited but when you take into ac­count the dif­fer­ent shades of edge bind­ing Iʼve cal­cu­lated that there are at least 56 op­tions. Iʼve also had a pair of tubu­lar steel-framed lightweight seats fab­ri­cated (itʼs my car and Iʼll do what I want!) and they need up­hol­ster­ing, too. Not to men­tion the oblig­a­tory Mo­bil Pe­ga­sus and ʻSu­per­charged by Jud­sonʼ flash. De­cal or hand-painted? More sleep­less nights ahead. CP


De­cid­ing against colour-match­ing his Porsche to his hair, our man Mal­lett then strug­gled to de­cide which shade of grey would suit his Pre-a 356 ʻstream­liner ʼ best of all…

Many would de­scribe Del­wyn Mal­lett as a se­rial car col­lec­tor – one with eclec­tic tastes at that. His Porsche trea­sures in­clude a pair of 356 Speed­sters, a Le Mansin­spired Pre-a coupé and a 1973 Car­rera RS. Some of them even work…

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