Photos by Randy Wells
As Collections Manager of LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma Washington, Renée Crist has sampled every classic automobile you can imagine. So when it came time to purchase a vintage sports car, she had a lot to consider.
With all the options available, one marque held her fancy. Decades before, she and her husband Pat had owned a Porsche. It was a 1961 Porsche 356B coupe that held many happy memories for the couple.
“Porsches have always held a special spot in my life”, says Renée. “Growing up in Southern California, the little German cars were all around me, and I became enamored with their racing heritage.”
“Pat and I first met in our twenties at a party where he had parked his 356 out front. When I arrived I asked, ‘Whose 356 is that outside?’ Everyone looked puzzled, but Pat struck up a conversation with me right away. We’ve been married now for 35 years,” she reports.
Eventually the 356 was sold. Yet, out of all the vintage vehicles they’ve owned, that was the proverbial ‘one that got away’. So they went in search of another one to re-experience that joy.
This time around they wanted their 356 to have disc brakes instead of drums. So, another stock B model was out and their choice became a 1964 or 1965 C or SC. Ideally it would also have a sunroof, but those rarely optioned models always prove to be few and far between.
The 356 was to be used for commuting and touring on nice days, which in the Pacific Northwest means you might still get caught out in the rain. That meant no concours beauty queens need apply. A well-sorted driver would do just fine.
After two years of searching, they found a 1964 356C non-sunroof coupe in Light Ivory. #128005 is a late 1963 Reutter build and proved to be perfect for their needs.
“This 356 brings back so many happy memories for us,” Renée enthuses. “Every time we drive it, we are transported back in time remembering our ’61 B coupe. The C model has the added benefit of not only having better brakes but also a wonderful story – something that’s always important to me as an automobile historian.”
This pretty white coupe was ordered in Portland, Oregon and delivered to eastern Washington where the original owner practiced law. It’s been garaged and well-maintained all of its life. There is even some original paint on the roof – the rest was resprayed over the years. As a bonus, Denny Aker of Seattle had recently rebuilt the 1600cc 90 hp engine with a new crankshaft.
“I had been tracking it from a Seattle estate of a gentleman who owned it for over 30 years,” Renée reveals. “We picked it up on New Year’s Day 2016. It’s still numbers matching, and we will be its caretakers for many years.” That’s not surprising considering Renée’s first car, a 1965 VW Beetle, is one she’s continuously owned since 1973.
Historically, Porsche’s classic 356 coupe has changed its shape over the years as it progressed from the 1950 Pre-A model, to a 1956 356A, to a 1960 356B, and finally to the 1962 356B T-6 design. The last of the line 1964 – 65 model year cars like this one retain essentially the same appearance as the 356B.
The bumpers and guards are higher and more substantial, the fenders are less rounded, the front hood has a more squared off shape, twin grilles provide more ventilation for the motor, and an external gas filler lid on the right front fender makes refills easier.
This vehicle’s softly sculpted lines continue to reflect Ferry Porsche and Erwin Komenda’s original aerodynamic design. Lovely to look at, comfortable to drive, this splendid 356 treasure exudes a charm that compels everyone who sees it to give a big thumbs up.
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Article and Photos Copyright 2016 Randy Wells. All Rights Reserved.