A 1964 Porsche 356 Coupe Painstakingly Renewed
By D. Brian Smith
Photography: Ben Moment
Bringing back a
vintage sports car is rarely ever an easy and fast proposition. Some
auto restorations are cosmetic only. A shiny paint job could hide all
kinds of catastrophes with the body and the chassis, while a drivetrain
on its last legs is typically quite easy to spot. The satisfaction realized from restoring a vintage automobile from the ground up and bringing that
prized vehicle back to life is immense.
A Medical Doctor by
profession, Bob Cannon knows from firsthand experience how daunting a
ground up, rotisserie restoration can be. In 1999, Bob bought a 1964
Porsche 356 Coupe and initially intended to give it a cosmetic
freshening before using it as an occasional driver. The car wasn't
running when he bought it, but it was all there and looked solid. The
car wore black
paint and had a replacement SC engine equipped with Weber carbs. Once
Bob realized a cosmetic renew wouldn't do, he did some research on this
beauteous little Porsche Coupe from its serial number, 131040.
Specifically, 131040 is
a 1964 Porsche 356 Reutter Sunroof Coupe that left the Zuffenhaussen,
Germany Porsche factory in August of 1964 and was first sold in
Dusseldorf, Germany. What eventually would be Cannon's Coupe initially
came equipped with Irish Green paint 6406; light brown cord upholstery;
Blaupunkt mono radio, speakers and antenna; electric sunroof; chrome luggage
rack and black koko mats.
The next five years of the Dusseldorf
delivered Irish Green sports car are shrouded in mystery. She was first
registered in California in 1969. Bob has the original black plate
California license plate, circa '69 to prove it. Regrettably, the next
30 years of the Porsche's life are also unknown as of this writing. We
are just aware that the 356 spent these years in Santa Cruz and Northern
California, until the Cannon consortium ponied up the cash in '99 and
purchased the Reutter Coupe from a man who resides in Durham, CA (a small town close to Chico).
this may sound more like a singing group from the early days of Rock 'n
Roll, a gaggle of females known as the Girl Greasers formed in 2000
with the intent of tidying up the little black beauty and making the
Porsche an occasional driver. With plans to do some minor tinkering and
repairing, the Girl Greasers removed the engine and transaxle. By doing
so, the Greasers and Dr. Cannon became aware of some pretty considerable
structural damage and body rust that the Coupe had suffered over its
long and well driven life. Disenchanted, Dr. Cannon and the Girl
Greasers gave way to being downright disgruntled with the German built
sporting machine. They left the little looker to languish in the corner
of the garage for a few years before the Greasies (in name only) and the
Doctor declared that the Porsche project should be started anew.
Girl Greasers are a creative contingent of five women, who aspired to renewing the
Cannon's 356 Coupe. That non-stock black paint however, hid some major
body panels that were so rusted they were unrepairable. The Greasers
didn't have the welding equipment or the desire to weld in a new floor
panel. Thankfully, Bob's home shop is well equipped with the welding gear and most all the tools to work on the 356. He expertly welded the floorpan in and applied epoxy primer to keep the pan rust free. Led by
Dawn Perry, the Greasers also included Bob's wife Elaine, Mary Geil,
Sheila Jaceti and Ayleen O'Connell. They certainly helped in the
dismantling of the car and also identified the challenges with the old
Problems with the outer body panels also ensued. The
Coupe had apparently been involved in a shunt to the front of the car
sometime ago in its history. Found on one of the front fenders was 3/4
inches of bondo that actually filled in a concave dent that hadn't even
been pounded back to the proper shape from the inside of the fender. Dr. Cannon performed the appropriate metal surgery and coaxing on the front fenders. As
for the rear fenders, they had survived over 40 years without any sort
of damage, although there was a fair amount of cancer rust in the engine
compartment, which the owner also carefully resolved.
More areas of
refurbishing included the bottoms of both doors. The doors were original
to the car, and it showed. Significant metal was rusted right through
at the bottom. Bob's masterful metalworking and epoxy primering solved these
cancer issues here as well. Of course, he used lead around
all the panel gaps to provide 3.5 mm openings all the way around prior to
primer and paint. Also due to rust, Bob used a donor hood's metal skin to re-skin the original hood's metal frame and adroitly welded the donor hood's unmolested metal skin onto the original hood frame.
After all the bodywork, epoxy primer and block sanding was done, it was
high time to bring back the Porsche's original topcoat hue of Irish
Green. Kim Nelson and the owner, with the assistance and expertise of
Jason Haskin in his Roseville paint shop/booth laid down the luscious
Irish Green hue mixed from Glasurit single stage 22 line paint that was
color matched to a door jamb on the Coupe. This took place in August
As anyone will tell you, who has seen the Cannon's Coupe, the paintwork is exceptionally well-done. The car looks like it just came out of a time capsule, which was sealed and buried in Dusseldorf, circa 1964. The drivetrain now needed addressing. Ted Blake out of Sacramento professionally rebuilt the transmission, which is original to the car. He replaced the bearings, the synchros, the ring-gear carrier, the ring-gear bolts and seals. To enhance the sealing of the case, Ted utilized transmission tube stiffeners. He also modified a 911 bearing and used it as a clutch-release bearing, thereby greatly beefing up that critical component. Ted's work all done, he filled the trans case with Swepco 90-weight gear oil.
We mentioned previously that the original engine to the car, #732592, was at some point in its past replaced by an SC mill, #811112. Bob and Ted Blake rebuilt this engine to stock and made that SC engine run righteously well. They fired it up and ran it on the test stand in September 2009.
Before reinstalling the rebuilt drivetrain into the 356, Bob used SKS undercoating over the seam-sealed and DP90 epoxy primer. He then covered the bellypan and engine bay, indeed the entire undercoated metal surfaces with Rust O-Leum Satin Black paint, which as you can imagine, sealed away any chance that rust would be coming back to visit the Porsche anytime soon.
Once Mr. Cannon and crew had the Coupe's engine and trans back in the car, they sent the Porsche seats to Autos International in Escondido to have the seats reupholstered. Meanwhile, Bob installed the Autos International headliner, the tan leather upholstery and the black koko mats. Cannon's cadre of Coupe caretakers checked and rechecked all their re-wiring work before firing up the renewed engine for the first time in the car.
Finally finished on October 2, 2010, this date was one day before the 356's premier show, the Niello Concours at Serrano. At their first Concours, the Cannons collected a Best in Class, which was a fitting payback for their long and painstaking Porsche's resplendent restoration.
Redline Review first had the opportunity to meet Dr. Bob Cannon, his wife Elaine and their epically renewed '64 Reutter Coupe at the 2011 Carmel By the Sea On the Avenue Concours. We knew the moment we saw the Porsche that there was a worthy tale of toil, filled with prodigious care and craftsmanship to be told behind the restoration of this vintage German sports car. In addition to the car's current caretakers, there were numerous people involved with the project that the Cannons wish to thank. Kudos go out to Jim Hardie, Ted Blake, Kim Nelson, Jim McMahen, Bill King, Jason Haskin, Bob Murray, Paul Frame and the aforementioned Girl Greasers.
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