Rust Never Sleeps

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.

With its original California black plate, original dealer license frame, “Drive Safely” Mobil Pegasus, and Cibie Biode headlights, the coupe was ready to roll.

Straub wasn’t quite done yet, however: He had a special addition for the interior. Luckily, this part of the car had escaped the ravages of salty air, heat, and time. The black dash and door panels were nearly perfect, the carpet was unworn, and the OEM rubber mats appeared to be in great shape. All of the dashboard lights and gauges worked, including the clock. And the old “1st Pacific International Grand Prix” dash plaque on the glovebox lid was retro-cool, too. The car also came with a gorgeous original tool kit complete with Messko tire gauge.

The only thing the cabin was missing? A cool seat.

Straub had just the item in mind. He had the good fortune of locating a real vintage “GT” or “Ferrari” seat that predates the more commonly found early 911 race buckets. This is very similar to the version originally used in factory 356 race cars and Speedsters, but was built wider to fit 911 seat rails — 17.5 inches between the center of the seat hinges. The “GT” seat Straub purchased was unrestored, with patina-perfect brown corduroy inserts.

“It’s like sitting on cardboard,” Straub gleefully admits, referring to the seat’s original padding, or lack of it. Straub smiles bigger when he shares the observation of his friend, Skip Shirley: “The seat and wheels are worth more than the car!”

Straub didn’t care. He just had a feeling about the car. Confirmation that he was onto something came when he showed the rust-bitten coupe at 2010’s Coronado Speed Festival, “A couple of early 911 enthusiasts, Dave Eck and Mark Motshagen, started drooling all over the car’s ‘old school’ bits and told me that I should never paint it. I realized then what I had was a ‘time capsule survivor’.”

So what’s this honest but cosmetically challenged car like to drive? Climbing into the driver’s seat is like stepping back in time. In fact, it feels like somebody left popcorn in it from last night’s drive-in.

Whatever padding that was there has changed into something else. You sit on top of the seat more than in it, but the side bolsters do offer some support. The old race bucket sure looks authentic, though — and the leather-clad lap belts and over-sized wood steering wheel only add to the effect. Easy going and laid back are in the owner’s nature, and so it is with his car.

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?
Buy Excellence 196 cover
Connect with Excellence:   Facebook Twitter Instagram