Rust Never Sleeps

A 1967 "barn find" wakes up to a new life.

September 16, 2011

Also from Issue 196

  • 2012 Panamera S Hybrid
  • Tuned Cayman: Manthey M315
  • Interview: Michael Keyser
  • New 2012 911 Carrera!
  • Cayman R vs. Boxster Spyder
  • Carrera GTS vs. Cayman R
  • "The Fastest Speedster in the World."
  • 1970 911T: Gray Wolf
  • 997 GT3 RS at Sebring
  • Smart Buy: 1992-1995 928 GTS
  • Buyers Guide: 914, 986, 987
  • Tech Forum: M96 Savior?
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Rust Never Sleeps 1
Rust Never Sleeps 2
The "Drive Safely" Mobil Pegasus, while not OEM, almost could be considered original equipment. Owner John Straub chose to keep relics from the car's past.
Rust Never Sleeps 3
Stored in a barn for decades, the 911's interior is still in good condition. The driver's seat was replaced with an unrestored, vintage bucket seat that is similar to what the factory used in 356 race cars and Speedsters.
Rust Never Sleeps 4
A set of original 15 x 7-inch magnesium Minilite wheels were fitted to the rusty 911. Tires are sized 195/60-15.
Rust Never Sleeps 5
Rust Never Sleeps 6
Rust Never Sleeps 7
All wear parts and rubber were inspected and then replaced or rebuilt, hence the engine bay's cleanliness.

Rust, the number one killer of classic cars, is insidious stuff. It inhabits the nightmares of Porsche owners, especially those with pre-galvanized 356s, 912s, 911s, or 914s. So when John Straub of San Diego first laid eyes on a 1967 911 that a friend had decided to sell, rusty body panels were the last things he wanted to see.

Is this really for me? Straub kept asking himself as he walked around the rust-spotted Porsche. “I’m known for having really nice cars, so I needed to stop and wrap my head around it,” he recalls.

On the plus side, the Light Ivory coupe was un­touched, completely original, and had only 78,000 miles. On the downside, it wasn’t pretty, didn’t start, and hadn’t been driven since it was parked in the early 1970s. The forlorn coupe was sitting in a storage garage next to a severely wrecked 1972 911S Targa and a large pile of Por­sche parts that were also for sale.

When Straub asked for a package price, his friend came up with a number that was too good to pass up. So, in late 2008, the neglected Porsches and parts were trailered to Straub’s home. There he dismantled the Targa and sold off all the parts for what he had invested in everything so far. The Light Ivory coupe was made to run so he and his wife could drive it.

“The first thing we noticed when we took it out and parked it was one or two business cards would be left on the windshield asking if we wanted to sell,” he says. “My first inclination was to repaint the body, but the unusual interest in the car made me reevaluate my plans.”

Straub could have easily begun his restoration by wiping his hand across the coupe’s oxidized hood, which would have removed a bunch of flaking paint right away. But the longer he looked at this 911, the less he felt like beginning any cosmetic restoration.

The whole “patina” effect of corrosion was uniform in appearance, and upon closer inspection the surface rust was limited to the outer panels. Amazingly, the pans and sills were unaffected.

Still, the weathered exterior was new territory for John Straub. He’s a well-known concours judge and racer in the San Diego region of the Porsche Club of America. He bought his first Porsche, a ’59 356, in 1965 when he was still in high school. More pristine cars came and went. Since the early 1980s, he’s campaigned a Porsche Parade class-winning full-concours 1965 911 and a clean 1970 914-6 GT vintage race car. He still owns both. Own­ership of a rusty looking Porsche was a big departure for him, but Straub decided the car was worth further investigation.

The car’s history was fairly easy to re­search since it had only two prior owners. In 1967, San Diego Motor Imports, the original Porsche dealer in the area, sold the car to a professor at the University of Cali­fornia San Diego. That made sense, as the car was still wearing some of the university’s parking stickers when Straub found it 40 years later.

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