1966 Porsche 911 swb
ReBuilt by andial in nineties, then by magnus walker... finally owned by me and fully rebuilt as part of a collaboration with historika.
Porsche prices have soared over the last five or so years. I bought a rather lovely little silver 911SWB from enthusiast and racer, Robert Barrie - before the boom. He had imported the car from the USA - and it had previously been owned and developed by some chap in LA called Magnus Walker. Now Magnus wasn't the social media superstar or Porsche ambassador that he is now, you understand. Therefore, the price on this car didn't reflect his superstardom. In fact, I bought it in December, with snow on the roads and a car with no heater didn't appear too attractive to Robert's clients. So a cheeky cash-bid managed to secure the car.
Magnus had owned the car for a while, adding many of his (now familiar) signature touches – Minilites, period houndstooth race seats, rally stripes... It looked fabulous to me, even in a snowy and wet West London. When I bought the car, I didn't even have a garage, so it came home and had to live out in all conditions with a flimsy car cover to protect it.
It certainly wasn't pampered. No garage queen here - it was driven (and enjoyed) in all weathers. The crappy race-battery couldn't cope with our weather or temperatures (Buckinghamshire isn't exactly Los Angeles), but that was all that was wrong with it. GT Porsche magazine did a feature on it, and Magnus was quoted as saying it was one of the sweetest shifting cars he's ever owned. He was right too - ANDIAL had rebuilt the original gearbox in the 1990's and it was a thing of beauty.
Chassis 503 had led a fairly standard life until it was bought by Aaron Raine in 1994. He had purchased the car from a pro-American Football player who had originally purchased the car in Dallas when he played for the Cowboys. Aaron wasn't looking to keep this car stock, so he immediately set about making some changes. He was good friends with Porsche driver, Matt McBride, and together they set about making 503 a little bit special. The engine is still the original one, but it was rebuilt by ANDIAL to deliver the kind of punch their race engines had.
It was the involvement with the legendary ANDIAL brand that really made this car appeal to me. Dieter himself was involved with the setup of the brakes and changing the brake components. Kevin Kelly at ANDIAL completely rebuilt the transmission for a sports bias and a 9% longer gear for 5th. Whilst the engine is (still) matching numbers, ANDIAL did drop in 2.2 911E pistons, which improves the throttle response. ANDIAL then lowered the car 40mm to the front and 30mm to the rear with 1.7 deg Neg camber front and 2.7 deg Neg camber to the rear. It was during this work that a 2.7 Carrera crankshaft, and connecting rods were also fitted. The last time it was weighed it was 998kg with spare tyre, tool kit and full tank of fuel. When ANDIAL had it on the scales they said it was the squarest (corner weights) of any street car they had ever weighed. Aaron enjoyed this car right up until 2010 when he sold the car to a Magnus in LA.
503 parked up at my home four years ago.
As I have said, owning this car was a joy - I drove it every week, and drove it hard. Eventually, the little rust in all the usual places had started to deteriorate and a decision to renovate the car was made. I looked at potential partners in Germany and here in the UK before finally going with Historika, based just outside Ipswich. If you know your old 911's then you'll know that Historika are the very best when it comes to SWB's. That said, they hadn't worked on a car like this before – they would normally do period-correct restorations or race-car builds. This was an outlaw. And it was a bit rough, despite still being matching numbers. Nick Morfett at Historika saw the potential though and a plan was hatched to make it great again.
The build took some 18 months and it needed waaaay more work than had been initially been expected. But, if you do go on this type of journey, that has to be expected. It had had a shunt to the front right, so that needed repairing, and whilst the front hood was still original it was out-of-shape and had a massive amount of bondo. That was all repaired, by hand, by the boys at Historika and what they managed to do to the front of this car was nothing short of superb.
Everything done to 503 is far too extensive to list here, but I'll highlight some of the key points. The car was obviously taken back to bare metal and all panels were saved where possible, especially as almost all were still original. The original 911R was a huge influence, so we built a bespoke 100 litre fuel tank with central filler; original 911R front bumper; 911R lexan louvred rear side-windows; 911R lexan side-windows with leather pull straps, 911R rear deck hinges; half rear cage which was welded to the chassis; lightweight carpets throughout; new wiring loom; original Cibié spotlights; all new suspension and shocks; fully renovated date-matched Fuchs (to replace the Minilites); leather Recaro S seats; wooden 917 geaknob; refinished rear seat pads; fully reconditioned Weber carbs (these were fitted by ANDIAL), 911R fibreglass engine tinware; ceramic coated exhaust, etc. The colour would be Scheifergrau, Steve McQueen's favourite, with the rally stripes to be retained in black. And the clock was custom made by Seattle Speedometer - beautiful - check them out, they have a tribe too.
It cost way more than expected. But looked far better than I ever hoped. When the car came back from paint, it really shocked me. It was immaculate. Perfect. Too perfect? What we had created was better than new. It was a jewel. I suddenly couldn't see myself ever driving it. That first stone chip would break my heart. That night I got home, posted some pics on Instagram, and spent a long time thinking about the car. Had I made a mistake?
Then, that very night, I was messaged by someone that had been following the build, wondering whether I would sell it. That had certainly never, ever, occurred to me. But the timing was perfect - maybe I should let it go? I was in negotiations for a while, but then the chap said he couldn't buy it because he'd been offered a new 911R. His loss, but now the seed of doubt had been sowed so when a Porsche OPC asked to buy it so they could display it in their new Porsche Classic showroom, I agreed. The price was great, Mrs. G was happy - and the car would spend some time giving lots of people pleasure in a Porsche showroom.
I miss that car badly and I've even contemplated buying it back. Maybe I will? I wonder whether it has any stone-chips yet? That'd make it a bit easier to live with!