Way back in the mid-1960’s John Ross did me a huge favor
John was a lawyer for the printing company where I worked. He and I weren’t near the same age, but we had lots in common when it comes to cars and especially Porsches. He had been a car guy as a young man, and successful in his chosen occupation. One of his friends had a father in the car business selling Packards. The friend became like many of us, quite interested in automobiles and particularly foreign race cars. In the mid 1950’s, he bought a Porsche RS 550 and raced it here and in Europe with good results.
Back to my car story
After high school, some college, and early jobs, in 1956 at age 21, I was drafted into military service. After two years of duty I returned home. A single guy, eager to become a sports car owner and within a couple years moving from a ‘57 Austin Healey 106 to a slightly used 1959 356 A silver Coupe. What a difference! I was driving it when in 1962, I joined the SCCA. There were many great events, and fine friends as well as John, who at the time was one of the old timers in the Kansas City Region club. His glory years were mostly in the past, but he remained an active member.
Coincidentally, John Ross occasionally visited our company owner, who was the SCCA Regional Executive atthe time. Both were long time members of SCCA. John often stopped at my work station for a chat. One day, he let me know that his long time friend who raced the 550 RS was hoping to add the Porsche franchise to his Volkswagen business in KC Mo. That was Art Bunker.
I’d been a customer of Art Bunker Volkswagen, who serviced Porsches, since owning the 1959 356 Coupe.
It was then 1963 and I had bought, stripped and sold a wrecked ‘58 Carrera coupe and a ‘59 Carrera 1600 that a friend wanted to replace, because it needed some repair that he didn’t want to use family funds on. The silver 1600 Carerra drove well, but had a leaky oil cooler that was more messy than drastic. After some time, it was bought by another friend who wanted a cool car.
About this time in 1964, John told me about an airline pilot friend in Dallas who became a family man and had to give up his ‘58 straw yellow Speedster 1600 Normal with 32,000 miles and a rotting canvas top from not being garaged. I asked him to set up my meeting with the gentleman when I flew into Dallas to buy his car. If memory serves, the price was $2,600. I had the longest lasting smile on my face, – all the way back home in my Speedster. And along the way, I planned what the car would undergo soon.
SPEEDY was mine the next 8 years along with a few other Porsches that I bought, spiffed up, caring for their needs, then shifting to other owners.
During that first year, the car was to have the transmission receive new synchronizers, and any other worn parts. The engine was dismantled to receive new oversize cylinders bringing the specs to 1800 cc, 912 heads had the ports and chambers polished, and combustion chambers equalized, Super 90 camshaft and Solex 40 PII-4 carbs. Three pounds were machined from the flywheel, adding to the tremendous acceleration. Also, a transistor electronic ignition coil was used. The engine crankcase halves went to California for machining to allow Corvair cylinders and new racing pistons. The car was stripped of carpet, receiving new pieces, and a new top was made locally using patterns from the old one.
The engine case was polished along with the aluminum brake housings and other such items. Any rubber part not like new in appearance was replaced, along with any removable bumper part, light lens, and muffler. The 1600cc rear trim was made to read 1800cc and a rare fender mounted streamlined rear view mirror was added later. Porsche Signal Red became the new color. I hand polished the several coats of lacquer while the running gear was removed. After several months in my garage, the re-assembly was completed and the maiden drive was very exciting. The car was everything it deserved and drew staring eyes and gaping mouths sometimes. It became my pleasure to enter in a few Concours shows, including some by our local PCA and SCCA. I’d become a Charter member when several owners met at Bunker to form the K.C.Region P. C. A. Speedy trophied wherever it was entered. It was also somewhat of a girl magnet.
In 1969, Art Bunker finally received the first Kansas City Porsche Franchise which was separated from the VW business and location. He chose to offer the general manager job to John Ross, who in turn came to me and offered me a job as the first salesman for the Overland Park store being built at the time. I didn’t turn him down. I carried the sales number 001 in the 5 state new Mid-America Porsche-Audi Distributorship at St Louis Mo., where much great training was had by myself and others in the mid-West.
The best event for Speedy was the Ozark Weekend in 1971, which was one of the events that Don Rohrs and I as co-activities Chairmen of K.C.R. P.C.A. devised that year. My wife Pat and I met at that event.
I can’t begin to expand to tell the many happenings Speedy and I shared over those years. Ask me sometime about ‘The Great Spin.’
Speedy’s sale helped us into our first home. It went to a professional from N.Y. City who answered my ad in Hemmings. I confess to tears when it drove away from our life. I continued owning Porsche and Audi cars, but that… that was the one.
I’m happy to have sold many of the best designed and most popular driver’s sports car of those years
when models 911T-E-S, 912-E, 914-4, 914-6, 904, 906, and 917, and 924, made sales records or racing records around the world. I’m also proud to have outsold salesmen in 5 states in a 911 sales contest during 1971. It got me a long weekend in Nassau and Golf game with Chi Chi Rodriguez. Smile. My work as a car salesman stopped during the late 1970’s, and I returned to the printing business.
After many years of partial retirement, I am pleased to once again be a co-owning member of the Porsche Club of America.