Story by Tiago Freixo
Photography by Pedro Ramos Santos
Cars were always present in my life; one of the first things I remember is standing along with my grandpa while he worked on one of the the interiors of the several cars that passed through his small workshop close to Lisbon. So many memories come to my mind when I think of cars, like that episode when I was driving a Fiat 126 in his lap when he told me that the car was that small so it could fit me better, or even my uncle’s black and pink Mini Moke, where I learned what a handbrake is for. Then time passed and I didn’t think about them as much, until my uncle came to me and asked if I wanted to work with him. I was just 18 years old.
The restoration workshop worked out well, and it expanded from a small space for three cars, into two big spaces with room for more than 30. We have restored cars for collectors, purists, and even international auctioneers, but it felt like something was missing. Therefore I decided to start on my own, working on a project close to what you can see on this Porsche seen in the photos.
When Pedro, the current owner, called me and asked if I had a classic car available for daily use, I had just gotten a 1970 E-Type cabriolet that I thought could be a good option. So, I called back to test the Jaguar idea, which he loved, but it wasn’t exactly what he was looking for either. As we all know, options in the classics world aren’t lacking. But even with so much available, our hopes for finding the right car were almost lost at some points in the search. But right there, forgotten in the back of the workshop, was a Porsche 356 B coupe, lost in the middle of all those who made up the shop’s population at that time.
Pedro asked, “What about this?” To which I replied that “this” needed a lot of work, to which he immediately responded “How long?” I naively said maybe two months… and I was far from knowing what he really intended. Basically he wanted a car that didn’t exist, at least not until it was built for him. The car was meant to fit him with some very particular characteristics. A hot rod in which anyone would recognize the original model, a car faster than before, and one that could be used day by day and with air conditioning. (Damn air conditioning!)
From the first day, we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy job, because we didn’t even know exactly what we wanted yet! We started making some sketches of the car, sent them to the painter and hoped that everything turned out right once it came time to have it applied to the metal. For the interiors, the initial plan was to use a dark brown leather, that is, until the day of ordering the hides when I decided at the last minute to change it to this more caramel tone. It was the right decision, and in my opinion is the perfect match, giving light to the interior, which is hard to find on a darker-colored one.
We were lucky with the mechanics, from a general point of view. The car was in very good shape already, although the engine was fully rebuilt regardless, because we wanted to increase power significantly with the Weber carbs. The suspension issue was solved easily with the replacement of the silent blocks and upper and lower arms, and also new Koni shocks. To lower the car, we used a regular DIY kit with some changes of our own, and it’s the same story with the disc brakes.
Outside, we stripped down the body and decided not to use the front and rear bumpers on the finished version, the absence of which lends a cleaner look to the car, which was finished by closing the holes and resurfacing the metal around it. Hand-built plexiglass rear screens and bullet-type rearview mirrors giving a racing touch to the car’s style that started with the removal of the bumpers. In short, and not detailing the endless hours without sleeping spent fine tuning and detailing it, the last thing to install was the A/C, and once that was working properly and the car was “finished,” I can’t express the satisfaction of feeling the inside of the car fresh and complete for the first time.
The feeling of driving the car is similarly amazing—obviously it will never be a supercar, but the sense of speed, the comfort in the curves, the very direct steering, all makes it the perfect daily classic!
For those interested in all the pieces modified on this 356, the full list is as follows: bumpers removed and holes filled; front disc brakes added; lowered via Koni suspension; engine rebuild with big-bore 1750cc kit and Weber (40) carburetors; 12v conversion; sports exhaust; custom plastic side windows; center fuel fill in the boot lid; extra-long-range front lights; bullet-type side mirrors; custom leather interior with RS-type seats; steering wheel changed to MOMO Indy with wood finish; 15″ larger-diameter wheels powder coated matte black; electric A/C system with hand-built radiator on the rear; Michelin tires for daily use; tinted yellow front lights.