AND THE TREES ARE STRIPPED BARE OF ALL THEY WEAR

Another post from when I was the art director/designer for the quarterly Early 911S Registry’s publication ESSES.  The text is from owner Freddie Hernadez and I shot the pics of his beautiful 1967 911. Freddie scouted out this location near the Amtrak station in downtown Martinez, CA. It was a fantastic location that required a city permit. It has since been completely leveled. I’m including some pics that did not make the article.

Text published with permission:

I often wondered why some were so fortunate in stumbling upon a “barn find” and others would go their entire lives hoping to discover one forgotten car in a barn, backyard, old garage or auto salvage yard. On October 7, 2005, I became one of those fortunate ones. I stumbled upon a loaded 1967 911 that had been sitting for 15 years in a auto salvage yard…the expired 1994 plate stickers told me so. At last, my days of wondering became the past…it was all about being in the right place at the right time.

What took me to that right place to begin with? My fascination with classic trucks. You see, from a young age I remember my father having a 1955 GMC step-side. To me, that was a pretty cool looking ride which no one else had in the area, or at least none of my elementary school friends’ fathers had one. Since money was scant at that time for a family of nine, my father decided to sell the truck. Darn! I had lost my bragging rights with school friends. On October 7, 2005, from the outside of a cyclone fence, I spotted a 1955 GMC step-side truck. Thinking it could have been my father’s old truck, I squeezed my way between a locked metal gate for a closer look. I must have been ten yards away from the truck when out of the side of my eye I spotted what appeared to be a 911 Porsche covered under a plastic tarp. Suddenly I forgot about the truck. My focus had changed quickly like that of a child when shown candy. (Unfortunately, the truck was not my father’s old orange GMC.)

My find was not just any 1967 911. The car was loaded with some very rare options. To start with, I quickly spotted some special front horn grilles, H1 headlights and European-style turn signals. Before I pulled off the plastic tarp I spotted the S rocker panel trim and front oil cooler. Could this be what I think it is? I pulled the tarp and peeked through the dusty windows and quickly noticed the 911S emblem on the glove box. I still was not convinced it was a real 1967 911S. Additionally, I also noticed the “elephant hyde” dash and door panels, electric windows, green gauges, all that my eyes could scan led me to believe it was instead, a 1968 911L. At that point, it was all a mystery to me. Before prying open the engine lid, carefully I might add, I noticed the fiberglass ducktail.  When I lifted the lid I quickly noticed that the lid was extremely light. What do you know; it was an aluminum frame Carrera ducktail. Good lord! What was this car and more importantly, who owned it and what would it take to make it mine? Under the engine lid I came across lots of spiderwebs, crawling bugs and a whole lot of dirt and grease. The real eye opener was when I dusted off the engine shroud. It was not really brown, but red! I reached in my pocket for a coin and scraped the grease off the engine number. Thereafter, I called my friend Rich Sutliff and asked him to check some numbers for me. Sure enough, the engine number matched that of a 911S 160-horsepower 2.0 liter. When I lifted the hood I found more goodies: a 100-liter gas tank, complete traveling kit, Hella driving lights, rear window wiper assembly and motor. Other than lots of rust, the hood came with an authentic enamel orange bar hood badge. Now the badge is proudly back on the restored hood.

How did it become the right time? After finding the owner, then I had the challenge of convincing him that the car needed to get back on the road again. I asked if he would sell me the car. Even though he dreamed of seeing the car restored as well, he told me to get back to him later, since he was not sure he wanted to part with it. He also mentioned that it was now his daughter’s and I was also going to have to convince her,. After many weeks of persuasion, things were still not quite shaping up as I hoped. So one day I bolstered myself with courage and left to see him with $4,500 cash in hand. When I arrived, guess what? I found him and his daughter together. I took out the cash and gave it to him. He told me that my timing was right since his daughter was in school and now in need of money. Just like that I was the new owner. Was that good timing or what?

I waited until after winter to start the restoration. I started by gutting everything from the car. All exterior trim, windows, doors, fenders, seals, engine, transmission and everything else was taken off the car. With a car that had been sitting for 15 years, this was the correct and only way to approach the project. I stripped five coats of paint before reaching metal. After doing some welding, sandblasting and acid treatments, I sprayed a two-part epoxy primer over the entire car. In order to avoid the over use of bondo, I hammered and dollied any ding, dents or waves. Being a fanatic about straight and flat panels, I primered and block sanded the car as many as 8 times.  If one is to have a showroom finish, block sanding is an absolute must. The color choice was a hard one. After spraying multiple samples, I went with a special-order color for 1967 called Medium Ivory 17657. The color is very classy and elegant. Actually, you will rarely see this color on a 1967. After applying the base coat color and three coats of urethane clear, I wet sanded with fine grit 1000 and then 1500 paper and took to the buffing wheel for a mirror finish.

My passion for Porsche restoration started at the age of 17 when approached by my high school counselor to paint his 1964 356. I was taking an auto painting class and he told me if I did his car, there would be “extra credits coming my way.” Honestly, the car looked okay only from a distance. However, if you stood closer than three feet, your eyes would hurt.  Nevertheless, the extra credits were priceless at the end of the year and my painting teacher thought it looked good. Thankfully, since my first “extra-credit Porsche,” my skills have come a LONG way.

One thing I did do after bringing the car home, was call over some friends to help me evaluate the 2.0 liter. Between myself, Rich Sutliffe and Cris Huergas we got the engine running again. From previously working on these 2.0s, just hearing the engine run, I knew the engine was still very strong. The Weber carburetors, on the other hand, were an utter mess. When I broke down the carbs, the floats were half full of sand and grime. Additionally, the bodies needed some serious help. With fresh rebuilt carbs and a new out-of-the-box SSI exhaust, the engine roared. I was almost ready to get back on the road again.

The interior also went through a full transformation. I got rid of all the “elephant hyde” dash and door panels and replaced the dash with basketweave. The complete interior, with the exception of the door panels and rear drop seats, were re-upholstered. What a great feeling it is to sit in my finished Porsche after all the hard work, down a cold beer, and take it all in. If my Porsche could sing, I’m sure the lyrics would be, “On the road again.”

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2 Responses to AND THE TREES ARE STRIPPED BARE OF ALL THEY WEAR

  1. Ferry Man says:

    Not seen those pictures before Bob. Lovely images.
    I particularly like the second one down (with the converging perspectives and strong diagonal shadows). Great photograph.

    Paul.

  2. Bob Tilton says:

    Thanks Paul. Dig your photographic contributions on the forums!

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