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A new, correctly padded multi-layer top was sewn up in brown Hartz cloth and linen fabric by Linda Strom, a talented seamstress with a shop in Frasier Park, California. She then installed the completed top over the original frame, the major parts of which were repainted, powder-coated, or re-chromed. Stainless-steel hardware was used in the hinges.

The interior work was tackled by Gabriel Guerra at Prestige Auto in Alhambra. The thickly padded front seats with their adjustable backs were covered in new Saddle Brown Connolly leather, as were the rear seats, and rear and side panels. Jim notes that original Coupes and Cabriolets had a single document pouch on the driver’s door panel; he had Guerra duplicate that feature on the passenger side as well. New square-weave oatmeal carpets were installed (and were recently updated by Autos International). DiMaria installed all the interior pieces as they were finished and delivered.

Because Vicki would be sharing the car with Jim, she insisted that two pairs of new seatbelts be installed. A company called Belt Masters in Torrance provided stitched DOT-approved belt material, and although he’s no longer around to appreciate the fact, the late Shah of Iran also contributed to this project. Belt Masters had once supplied new seatbelts for the Shah’s personal 707 passenger jet in the course of a 1970s interior renovation. The company had retained some of the special gold-plated buckles that had been replaced, and when Scrimger saw them on display at Belt Masters, he just had to buy a couple of sets.

The Pre A’s instrument panel also received attention. It contains a standard speedometer and oil pressure gauge along with what appears to be a non-stock VDO tachometer, apparently from a later Carrera. (Scrimger says it was in the car at the time of purchase.) We can surmise that it was installed during the car’s racing days. All were sent to North Hollywood Speedometer for rebuilding; the tach was upgraded to an electrical sender to replace the original mechanical drive. To keep a closer eye on engine temperatures, Jim installed a semi-hidden VDO gauge below the dash that monitors the #3 cylinder head. The main instruments are shaded by small painted “eyebrows” that we have in the past found to be dealer-installed optional items that don’t appear in the factory’s parts list.

There is no fuel gauge; the factory thoughtfully provided a nice wood dip-stick in the front trunk for the driver’s convenience, if we can expand the meaning of that word. There’s also a trio of small warning lights: green for oil pressure, red for generator discharge, and blue for the turn signals; a Blaupunkt “keyhole” multi-band radio; a shine-down map lamp over the ashtray, and a manually operated windshield washer.

All the plastic switches and knobs, along with the plastic banjo-style steering wheel, were restored by a technician at Gary Hemmer’s 356 Workshop in North Hollywood, using high-strength epoxy with dental coloring to perfectly match the original pieces. While attending the 1990 Porsche Parade at Monterey, Jim spotted a pair of original and period-correct factory tinted plastic accessory sunvisors and gave them a new home.

What Jim accurately describes as a very Spartan front trunk contains a six-volt Optima sealed battery. The original 57-liter (approx. 13-gal.) fuel tank was carefully inspected, cleaned, and pressure-tested before receiving a fuel-resistant coating to prevent leaks and suppress corrosion. The fuel tank was reinstalled using correct horse-hair (coconut fiber) padding under the holding straps. Jim had the outer surface of the tank resprayed with glossy black Imron, which he says isn’t factory-correct, “but it really looks great during car shows!”

Also from Issue 215

  • David Donohue track tests the Turbo
  • A missing link in the 911's life story
  • Who should get credit for the design?
  • 987/997 ignition events and your warranty
  • Porsches and guitars--a great mix
  • Awesome power; Cayman balance
  • 1975 Carrera finds a new venue
  • A historian's look at the 356's birth
  • RS enthusiasts gather at Rheims
  • Could this car be worth $500,000?
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