Bodyman’s Challenge: 1963 Porsche 356B

The past decade has seen a stratospheric rise in classic Porsche pricing.  356 Porsches were the first to see a spike in appreciation, with 911s following shortly afterward.  914s prices are rising now, and even early 924s are becoming sought after.  As in any case like this, the good cars go fast.  What is left may require a lot of work, like this 1963 Porsche 356 coupe being sold on craigslist in Costa Mesa, California for an amazing $26,500.  To say this Bally Blue 356 is needy would be an understatement.  Is this car worth the amazing asking price, or would a restoration cost far more than the new owner would ever recoup?

Looking at the pictures it is hard to understand just how much work it would take to put this Humpty Dumpty 356 back together again.  While the basic body shell is still there, the roof and the hood appear to be the only panels without significant damage.  The pictures also reveal that a lot of parts are just not there.

The good news is that you can get replacement parts for nearly the whole car.  The bad news is that your wallet is going to weep.  I mean weep like they talk about in the Led Zepplin song “When the Levee Breaks.”  Stoddard is one of the more respected aftermarket Porsche parts vendors.  Their price for the reproduction rear panel alone for this car is $2,989.47.

Calculate the hours and hours of bodywork it would take to seamlessly replace the rear panel alone and you can get a good idea of just how expensive the restoration of this car would be.  The seller tells us what you see in the picture is what you get when you purchase the car.  Think of all the little nuts and bolts and the things like an ashtray, sun visors, and add to that the other trinkets that complete a car.  More than a few are missing from the pictures.

As we look around this 356 we see some interesting damage on the passenger front fender.  It looks like a portion of the rear fender was cut out for some reason.  Perhaps a repair to the door sill was cut short.  We can also see that there is no glass in the car or in any of the other pictures.  The door handles have also left for parts unknown.

A glance into the interior reveals a complete lack of gauges, climate controls, and no radio either.  The floor is mostly gone, which is no surprise in an unrestored 356.  What is alarming is that there is no sign of a window regulator in the passenger door.  Window regulators are likely to be difficult items to locate.

The seat springs are amazingly intact, as is some of the padding and the seat covers.  None of it is useable of course, but at least there is something to use as a pattern.

The final photo reveals just what is left of the engine.  While we can see the case and two of the jugs, they are in deplorable shape.  Is there enough left to put together an engine?  Perhaps one of our resident Porsche experts can tell us what we are looking at and how feasible putting this engine back together would be.

Taken as a restoration project, I just don’t see how you could come out ahead here.  This is more than just putting an old Corvette or Mustang back together.  The body work and rebuilding the engine on this car would require people who specialize in Porsches.  These people don’t come cheap and the wait for their services is long.  This car may have a better chance at a second life as a resto mod of some sort.  There are a few outlaw 356 Porsches out there.  Perhaps this is a good start on the next one.

Comments

  1. Euromoto Member

    Not withstanding all that is rightly stated in this write-up, it’s Bali Blue, not, “Bally Blue”.

    Like 1
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    That rust on the rear of the right front fender tells you that pretty much everything below the top has rust problems. As for the engine, if the aluminum case is not pitted or cracked then you have something to start building on. Same with the cylinder heads. Gets expensive when when you get to crankshafts, rods, pistons and cylinders, valves, etc. Anything is possible with the engines but that body hints of impossible. Money solves lots of problems and it’s going to take a lot of money to solve them. At least it’s got the transaxle and front suspension. Present price makes all of the above not worth it to me.

    Like 4
  3. Big C

    Why are people paying outrageous money for 914’s, 924’s, and complete pieces of junk like this thing? People are getting dumber.

    Like 9
    • Mike

      924s getting outrageous money? Never heard that before. The 914s on the other hand are finally getting their due. Enough of them got trashed over the years that really good ones are not that easy to find for cheap.

  4. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    In the late 1980s I had a small shop down in Guatemala that did ONLY metalwork on old cars. I could ship the bare body shell with doors, trunk lid and hood attached, and his guys would hand shape the damaged panels back into the original shape, without any fillers. I would get the bare body back, only primered. If the car needed replacement panels, I would have them sent to his shop directly. On it’s return, my body and paint department only had to do final fitting and sanding.

    Sadly, the shop is no longer there, as Guatemala has changed so much due to drug gangs. However if I was going to tackle this job, I would certainly start looking for someone south of the US border who could do similar work.

    Like 4

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