Porsche 356 – the tech

All images Magneto

Gary Irwin's 1959 Porsche 356 was imported to UK in June 1999, when the bodywork restored and refinished by Andy Barry of Southend. The car was originally Ruby Red but was refinished by Andy in Aetna Blue, an original Porsche colour dating from 1961.

The interior is complete with stock seats, which were originally re-trimmed in the UK in tan leather. The original front seats were replaced with reproduction alloy Speedster buckets.

Fine detailing was made by Richard King of Karmann Konnection, who fitted original restored wipers and rear reflectors, reproduction bonnet straps and headlight grilles - as well as wood rimmed steering wheel.

The 1600cc engine (not original) was serviced and fitted with twin Weber 40mm IDF carburettors and the exhaust was left standard.

Finding a loving home with Gary in January 2002, it is used regularly for travelling to work and for longer trips like Le Mans Classic.

On purchasing the car the new owner immediately replaced the two tone wheels with reproduction 356 style 5.5" steels which improved its look.

During his eight years of ownership he has systematically renovated and improved the running gear. First the gearbox was rebuilt by Jez Parsons of Carerra Performance after a bolt loosened in the gearbox, disabling the drive. Fortunately no internal damage was done.

After a faltering trip down to La Sarthe, Gary sourced a Porsche 912 engine and had this more reliable lump fitted to the car, reusing the original ancillaries including the Weber carbs. When the previous engine was stripped it was found that the barrels were different sizes between the left and right side.

When the opportunity arose Gary had the replacement engine fitted with a lightened and balanced crankshaft, flywheel and rods, new 1720cc barrels and pistons as well as reworked cylinder heads. The Weber 40 IDFs were reworked to suit the engine too.

During this time the car continued to work with 6 volt electrics but Gary found as the car improved so it became more and more difficult to start. Invariably the battery needed replacing after each winter lay off. Gary intended to upgrade to a 12 volt dynamo system but he came across a very neat British made alternator conversion kit. This looks very original, utilising an easily sourced Bosch alternator, and makes the car an easy starter every time.