For Moran, there’s always been something special about a black Porsche, and he’s owned more than a dozen in the past 30 years. “Black has been my favorite color since I was kid,” he states flatly. “I wore black uniforms all through school and have only black clothes now. My first Porsche was a Black 911 SC. The next model I owned was a 911 Turbo I ordered new in 1986. It just had to be Black on Black with a Black headliner.”
Before any black paint could be applied to the 356, however, Willhoit had to cut out all the rusty pieces and match good sections from the donor tub. He also reinforced the coupe’s longitudinals, as he does with most of the 356s he restores. That part went fairly easily, but the coupe’s sunroof was another story.
“An original ‘electric’ sunroof-optioned 356A coupe is a very rare car,” says Willhoit. “It’s quite interesting because it uses the switch found on later 356B T6 cars, but, in this case, it’s mounted on the dash. The motor is a giant thing located in the engine compartment. It pulls cables in tubes to open and close the roof, much like an early 911. There are only a handful of cars with this type of roof, and this is the only 356A I have seen with one. It was a real adventure getting it to work properly.”
To widen the rear fenders by one inch on either side, Willhoit ended up making complete quarter panels. The front and rear lower edges are reinforced with wire like the factory GT cars, and the rear bumper has been lengthened to fit the new fenders. Willhoit fabricated a hood and a louvered decklid out of aluminum but left the doors in steel for safety reasons. The rocker moldings, hood handle, and rear reflectors were deleted for a cleaner look.
The body was metal-finished with no filler. After hundreds of hours of prep, it was painted by Willhoit shop manager Chris Mayring. The bumpers are set up like a factory GT with aluminum trim and no guards. The windshield is Sigla glass, but the side, quarter, and rear windows are Plexiglas. The final touch is a vintage Talbot aluminum driver’s side mirror.
When it came to the cabin, Moran had unique requests. “I wanted an outside temperature gauge that looked period-correct but worked properly,” he says. “Another antiquarian item we ordered was a three-way combination gauge that provides oil-temperature, oil-pressure, and fuel-tank readings together, much like a 904.” These gauges, along with a 160-mph speedometer and a tachometer with an 8000-rpm redline, were created by North Hollywood Speedometer.
The black-anodized dashboard plate is engraved with “356GTRS” and was commissioned because Moran felt the regular plastic block-off plate wasn’t in keeping with a custom build. Other interior tricks include a custom tunnel-mounted shifter, a leather-wrapped RSK steering wheel with a double-stalk blinker and headlight flasher switches, simple door panels with leather pull straps, and GT door handles.
A removable factory roll bar is joined by three-point seatbelts and GT seats with lightweight alloy frames made by Fibersteel of Azusa, California. The headliner is (what else?) black, while the rear interior is carpeted in charcoal German square-weave. The rest of the floors are covered in pebble-grain vinyl, lightweight ribbed rubber matting, and Coco floormats.