It also served as recognition for Jim’s having completed his graduate degree in Manufacturing Management. Her reasoning, he adds, was, “I’d be broke most of the time, hanging out in the garage instead of heading off to, um, other temptations, and that the expense was much less than dealing with a case of Porsche-Separation-Anxiety Disorder.”
With his “new” old Porsche snuggled comfortably in his garage, Jim began to research his new lady friend and assemble a what-to-do-first list. The car needed “almost everything” to regain its former respectable appearance and condition, says Scrimger. He began to search for as much early factory literature as he could find. The annual L.A. Literature and Toy Show proved a good source; he was able to pick up an original 1954 owner’s manual that had once belonged to Bob Garretson. He also found copies of factory shop manuals and parts books that would help guide parts identification and reassembly.
We would learn that the car was wearing Arizona license plates when it came into Hoyem’s hands in the 1970s, suggesting that it had spent at least a portion of its early life in the nice dry climate of Arizona. He determined that it had been raced by a previous owner. It was dented up a bit and painted white; what remained of its original interior—not too much—was black vinyl. The original top bows came with the car, but the stock bumpers were missing, replaced by Southern California-style nerf bars. Other exterior trim was missing (“It had been ‘nosed and decked,’” recalls Hoyem).
It hadn’t run in four years; the owner thought the transmission was locked up. That proved an easy fix, says Hoyem; it simply needed a new clutch cable. In fact, his mechanic, George Velios, split the transmission case for inspection and found the gears to be in almost perfect condition. Because he wanted to drive and enjoy the Cabriolet with a minimum of worry, Scrimger’s primary goal was to make the car reliable. He intended to use as many OEM parts as possible but was willing to depart from the car’s original paint and interior specifications to satisfy his own tastes. He wanted a stronger engine, and, finally, he wanted to share the car with everyone else. The bottom line, he smiles, was to drive the little car proudly and with humility—and “tell other wives what they should do for their gearhead husbands!”
While Southern California is loaded with high-quality Porsche restoration shops, Jim found that not many are set up to work with owners whose budgets dictate that the labor will take years—in fact, many years—a little bit at a time, as funds allowed. Eventually, he found one such shop, Vintage Paint Works, in nearby Torrance, where owner Dave DiMaria offered him a deal: If Jim was willing to let the Porsche become a low priority in the shop, Dave would work on it as time allowed, in between the routine crash collision repairs and re-painting projects that paid the shop rent. That was certainly in line with Jim’s thinking, so in early 1984, off the Porsche went to begin what would become a four-year restoration. Jim had pretty much disassembled the car, and after a complete bead-blasting to bare metal it was trailered to DiMaria’s shop.
DiMaria found it to be a typical old 356 that needed a moderate amount of metal work. Both the nose and tail sections showed evidence of prior crash damage (“There was lots of Bondo,” says Jim.), but the floors, longitudinals, battery box, and other usually rust-prone areas were found to be in pretty decent shape considering their age. Credit a life in the Arizona desert for that. DiMaria was able to focus on cleaning up the extremities, repairing minor dings and dents, and ensuring consistent panel gaps. All the factory welds appeared original, says Jim, and all the numbered panels such as the lids and doors agreed with the chassis number, always a good sign. He selected a color called “Flame Red,” which DiMaria applied in R&M acrylic lacquer. Every other metal part on the car was either repainted or re-chromed. The shop applied 3M sound-deadening undercoating for underbody protection.
By May of 1985, the body shell had been prepped and repainted. The next step was purchasing and installing a complete new wiring harness from Y & Z, followed by the fabrication and installation of new roof tack strips and interior bows made from eastern ash. A journeyman cabinetmaker carried out that work.