Still, interjects Sally, “When you get that first ding in the car, there’s just something that takes it out of you. And he never had the same enthusiasm about keeping the car just right after that.” The Speedster migrated into the garage, Al planning to eventually restore it himself. “I even started taking it apart when we were in New Jersey, which was probably not a good idea. Some of those parts are still missing…”
Weeks turned to months and years. Little was done. Says Al: “When we came to Florida in 1990, we got a four-car garage. Sally had the idea that I could bring the car down and work on it when we came here on vacation.” The Citros rented a trailer and hauled the Porsche down the East Coast. There it sat in the garage, untouched until 2005. That’s when Sally finally gave Al an ultimatum: Either fix the car or get rid of it.
“I knew he’d never sell it, so I called my son-in-law,” she says. “He got on the Internet and found a few places to take it.” A local shop got the car running, albeit a bit roughly, before additional research landed the Citros at Heritage Motorcar Restoration in Largo, Florida. There, Jason Lee and Jason Hiler managed the lengthy project to return the Speedster to its former glory.
Jason Hiler focused on the “look good” part of the equation. Al was concerned that the ravine excursion that broke the windshield had also tweaked the tub, so Hiler put it on a chassis jig. “For such an old car it might have even been within spec, but we put it perfect,” says Hiler. Considering its years of daily use, the 356’s body was fairly solid.
“It needed front pans and longitudinals as well,” continues Hiler. “The rear pans weren’t too bad, but we decided to replace them anyway.” Body panel rust was mostly limited to the back of the front fenders and the area right behind the doors. “I didn’t have to touch the doors, the hood, the decklid. It has the original battery box, the original rockers…”
After repairing the left front fender, focus shifted to paint. Glasurit had the code for Porsche’s #5711 Orange. Hiler says the door hinges had never been repainted. “With something to match to, it was perfect the first time. I didn’t respray the hinges; we just left them straight from the factory, so people could see.”
But for the horn grilles, all chrome parts are original to the car and were redone at Paul’s Chrome Plating in Pennsylvania. The hood handle and front bumper guards were re-anodized by David Russell Anodizing in Florida. Says Hiler: “He’s not set up to restore the items, just to anodize them — so I had to do all the prep. He was nervous about working with these old parts, but they turned out nice.”All seven script items were replated in hand-laid gold to the tune of $1,200. “It was great having Al as the original owner,” continues Hiler. “He remembered exactly how everything was supposed to be.”
The current seats are correct Speedster equipment, but they’re not original to the car. “Al thought the originals were too uncomfortable, so he gave them away and put in coupe seats. We found some Speedster seats and had them redone.” Rather than convert to leather, Al chose to stay with vinyl that matched the original. The interior carpeting is the correct square-weave, but the years had cracked the steering wheel’s rubber rim, so it was replaced with modern materials. Finally, the dash gauges were all rebuilt by Palo Alto Speedometer in California.
Meanwhile, Jason Lee focused on the mechanical part of the equation. “Al said he wanted the engine, on the outside, to look completely original.” That left some wiggle room on the inside. “We put a lot of development into modern materials there.” Lee and his team took the 1600 Normal to 1800.30 cc with a bore of 88 mm (an increase of 5.5 mm) and the stock, 74-mm stroke.