The Angry Bug
Photos by Jack Major @majorlymedia
Words by Marc Sherriff @marcandcars
Growing up in the heartland of Australian Muscle Cars, Geelong, Victoria seems like an unlikely place to start as a Porsche air-cooled tragic, especially considering both parents worked at the Ford Motor Company for some time. Being constantly surrounded by big cars with big motors, it was quite a revelation when, under the age of ten, I saw my first Porsche. It was a silver 356A Coupe. I only know this now, as I am very familiar with the models. Back then, all I knew was that it was a tiny little spaceship that went like an angry bug (VW Beetle). It was some 30 years later when I finally got my own, this car here. A 1960 Porsche 356B (T5) Coupe.
There were plenty of cars in between, even a dalliance with a 2.0l 914 imported from the USA that I drove from Perth to Sydney and back again. It died a sad death after a few years but it allowed me to get into a Porsche for my budget! Sadly, they are not so affordable anymore…
One of the most endearing things about the 356 is its appeal to both men and women. It is widely acknowledged as a beautifully shaped classic car. Add this to the fact that no one can deny the later Butzi designed 911 really was an evolution of the 356 silhouette, and nearly everyone that sees one, has that look of appreciation.
The car you see here was imported about 10 years ago from California, where an alarming number of all 356s made seemed to end up. I bought it from a gentleman in Brisbane who had it only a year. He had too many boats and the car had to go. I had spent about four years scouring the world for the right car for me and it was killing me seeing the values only continue to increase. I was getting worried they were going to get out of reach but everything happens at the right time. I was specifically after a T5 Coupe as I wanted what back then was a big technological step forward for the model in both design and drivability. I also wanted a car that was one of the darker colours but not black. So it was probably always going to be Ruby Red. I really like the way the chrome fittings pop against the darker colours. It had to be a numbers matching presentable driver. When the previous owner advertised it, I rang him the day it went up and jumped on a red-eye flight that evening, arriving about 6am in Brisbane. I went straight to his place from the airport, looked the car over, took it for a drive and did the deal. I was back at the airport only two hours later boarding a flight back home to Perth.
Whilst I’m no expert on Porsches and have no mechanical training, in a previous job I had the chance to work on a lot of 356s. In reality I have probably driven 40-50 cars, so I do know the difference between a good one and a bad one. Whilst mine is far from perfect, it was a lot closer to good than bad.
You can see in the photos, which can hide a lot, the car presents very nicely still. It still has the paint that was redone in the late 80’s. It polishes up acceptably but is no concourse car which I am good with as it means I am not scared to drive it. And that is what these cars were made for, driving. Sure it left the factory with a laughable, by today’s standards, 60hp at the flywheel but weighs less than 900kg fully loaded. I know it is no rocket but it is a very rewarding car to drive with urgency and it is a lot more fun driving a slow car fast than a fast car slow.
Since having the car I have sorted out all the suspension, lowered it slightly, upgraded the brakes, and had the engine rebuilt (nearly doubling the horsepower). All these expenses considered, I have had it long enough that its value is still greater than what I have put in it, if I ever (hopefully never) have to pass it to a new owner.
Lots of people that have never driven a 356, or even ever sat in one, are always surprised at the interior space for the car’s size. All the touch points are light. Accelerator, clutch, brakes, steering and gear shifting are all very light and have absolutely no assistance which is not really needed when a car is this light and a steering wheel that large! This results in an easy drive around town and out in the country. I know there are less and less 356s getting driven regularly these days which is a shame. It mainly comes down to a couple of reasons. Vehicle value and aging owners but us owners do like to talk about our favourite model car so if you see one, stop the owner and ask him or her about it. They will explain why Porsche’s first and prettiest model is still the best, according to them. Heck, they’ll probably even take you for a drive in it to prove it!
You can check out Marc on his Youtube channel Marc and Cars. There you’ll find heaps of videos on classic and modern cars including car shows, interviews, and featured cars, just like here at 911 Kuhlture. Visit Marc and Cars
Also check out the amazing work by Jack Major on his Instagram account @majorlymedia