In late winter 2014 I found myself in inner suburban Melbourne walking through the door of a factory building where before me, a sea of car covers. Beneath them lay a number of rare and desirable Porsche cars.
In 1951 Norman Hamilton set up the second distributorship of Porsche outside of Europe with commissioning, then the import of two early 356 – a Coupe and a Cabriolet. The second significant claim to fame of these two cars is the fact that they were also the first RHD Porsches ever built – the Pre-A Coupe in the collection been the first of the two. The competition history of the Pre-A Coupe includes competing in the 1953 REDEX Trial – a 10,400km journey around Australia.
This car was acquired by the current owner in 2005 in quite poor condition and it was decided to embark on a full restoration to its original 1951 guise. This process took some three years (finishing in 2008), along the way various original parts were restored, including the interior wooden trim capping, but numerous parts had to be re-built. It was evident that the front of the car had had a shunt at some period, but the original bumper was intact, but had to be integrated back into the car. Almost all of the instruments are original. It’s interesting that the owner remarks that this is not the car you want to take on a long journey as it rolls all over the road, but we agreed that having being in the first 500 cars Ferdinand built the subsequent 1952 model was a much better handling car.
The collection commenced though in the mid-1980s with the purchase and restoration of a 356A Coupe, but then started to get serious in the mid-1990s with the purchase of a 911 2.7 litre RS.
The next cover lifted was a 356 Speedster. But this is quite a special Speedster for two reasons – again the first RHD variant of this model, but also the first and only RHD Carrera GT Speedster model – Carrera GT specification being the race version of the normal Speedster with its 1,500cc Quad-cam engine, 550 Spyder finned drum brakes and 110lt fuel tank. Never restored (except exterior paint) this is the only RHD example ever produced of the 23 Carrera GT Speedsters produced. The owner remarked: “it doesn’t come on to the cam until 3,000 revs – then just sings and makes you smile”.
There are five variants of the 911 model with one built up as a replica of the lightweight 911R – it’s complete though with a 2.6 litre 906 engine producing about 220BHP. They only produced about 19, far less than the 50 required for homologation; hence they ran in the Prototype category.
Brian Foley and Jim McKeown saw Alan Hamilton having success in the 1969 Australian Touring Car Championship, running second in his 911TR – so both set about building their own and joined him in 1970, Foley with his own 911ST under his Chesterfield Racing team name. He only ended up racing it four times, which the current owner commented “it’s interesting given the amount of photographs I’ve being shown of the car, particularly the famous shot of Foley and McKeown coming down the dipper at Bathurst that year”. Foley moved on at the fifth round (into an Alfa Romeo GTA-M) and sold the car saying that he didn’t like the car, it didn’t handle, etc. suppose coming from Mini & Alfa, a Porsche is a completely different driving style. He had sold it across the Tasman to New Zealander Jimmy Palmer who set about a full campaign in the same livery (minus the Chesterfield Racing insignia) in 1971.
Feature photo courtesy: Chris Carter