"What is it mate?" asks many a VW festival-goer.
"It's a Porsche 356 Outlaw. James Dean met a sticky end in this very car in 1955."
Wow! Except he didn't (it was a Spyder). But folks love a good story.
Andy G is the owner/builder. I met him several years ago at the Deva Dubs 'n' Rods show in Shrewsbury (RIP). He had been a customer of ours for a few years, but we had never spoken in person before until he visited our trade stand. He came over and introduced himself and we hit it off as car buddies.
I had in the past, hand delivered an order to his address and saw a mean stanced '67 bug with a huge tacho on the dash. Cool looking car. I continued with the deliveries to his address - Andy living just a few miles away - but no one was ever in.
A few months later, beneath a workshop tent, appeared another car. Well, a chassis. A satin black bodyshell and some other random bits and pieces; it looked like quite a project. But over the following weeks and months, it started to look more complete.
Then one day, it was sitting on 4 wheels and had a twin carb engine installed. Things were looking promising.
Built in a race car/patina rat rod style, it has a welded in roll cage, bucket seats, some natty period extras, Ally interior panels and a few nice custom touches. I love this car - pure and unadulterated - such is a man's love for a rusty looking old machine.
So what's the story?
Andy: "I first got into cars in around 1980; mainly hot rods and drag racing and as such, I love the nostalgia of Centreline wheels, Jazz seats and Dzuz fasteners. All very true to the period.
The car is very much as I bought it. The previous owner, a guy near Nantwich, had acquired it with the intention of rebuilding it, but as usual, other projects had got in the way and he decided to sell. It basically came as a disassembled body and box full of bits, minus glass, wiring, fuel tank and many parts."
Was it an easy build?
Andy: "Relatively, yes. I wanted to build on a budget and as such, finding missing parts at a reasonable price was one of the biggest challenges. Luckily, I had the majority of major components in stock. Take the gearbox. It came from eBay at a very reasonable buy it now price. Located in deepest Essex, it was worth the three hour drive to collect. Anyone can throw loads of money at a car, but to me it’s always been a hobby; pin money!
After reassembling and going through the body, fabricating and replacing floor panels, rebuilding the brakes and installing a type 1 1500 engine and 1600 GT gearbox, I decided to keep the barn find look involving rattle cans and Voodoo Street rust paint.
All windows are polycarbonate apart from the new windscreen. A new alloy fuel tank sits under the hood and the car has been rewired. Centreline (replicas) were bolted to all four corners, a new set of Jaz seats bolted in. Five point harnesses complete the look.
How are the brakes?
Andy: "Mediocre. I'm considering fitting front discs in the future."
What's your car history?
Andy: "My first car when I passed my test, was a sit up and beg Ford Pop, which I drove while building another sit up and beg hot rod.
After fabricating a chassis, narrowing a Jag IRS (HA Viva front) and chopping the roof, I decided a Salt Lake look was more me. So I created what at that time, mid 1980s, was arguably the best 3 window pop coupe. It can be seen in a few YouTube clips. I also built a 'proper' MK2 Zephyr 2 door by moving the B pillars and making longer front door skins.
I then had a 1976 911 2.7.
Photo: Studio 55 (Example image)
Next up, a Healey 3000 imported from Texas. Due to the Texan climate, nothing survives. Everything perishes. Cars are sand blasted or in the case of the body tub, filled with sand which then holds water and over a 30 year period, rusts away. I replaced the bottom 6 inches and performed a complete nut and bolt rebuild. I used the car almost every day but then regrettably circumstances forced me to sell it.
Photo: Austin Healey, Owen Automotives
A few years later while sourcing a VW Type 3 for a friend, I admired the benefits of the Beetle and considered how it could so easily be my next hot rod. Having attended one of the first Bug Jams in the early 80s, there was always this passion for both the Cal look of that era and drag racing. I restored an early '67 Beetle and painted it Beryl green with polished Empis and then sold it!
Around this time, another friend had bought a Button kit car but really wanted a Lotus 7 lookalike. Armed with a vice, drill, jig saw, angle grinder, arc welder and hammer, I made a new chassis, new panels, new interior, replaced the Ford Cross Flow with a Flat Twin cam and 5 speed box, resulting in something that looked more like what he wanted and all for the cost of a few beers!"
Any other cars to your name?
Andy: “Having regretted the sale of the ’67 Beetle I then brought another early ’67 which I still have after 23 years. Now fitted with a 2332, Bears gearbox and twin 48 IDAs it’s a different kettle of fish to the 356A. Both cars have their idiosyncrasies, and both will never be finished. I’m constantly tinkering with things.”
He's not wrong. Every time I see it, Andy has changed something - a carb or air filters and he's never 100% satisfied with the way it's running. Standard. As for me, I'll be on hand to offer an opinion or a tow home. I'm also hoping he eventually sees sense and sells it to me.
Words: Gareth Evans
Photos: Winter Peach Photography