In the world of Porsche 356s, the term “outlaw” originated in the early 1980s in Southern California. It was a name given to Gary Emory, because he was not afraid to push the looks of a 356.
You see, Gary grew up in the San Fernando Valley and was the son of famous custom-car builder Neil Emory of Valley Customs. Surrounded by cars tastefully modified to enhance the beauty of their original designs, Gary inherited his father’s knack for style. He’d watched his dad transform something nice into something stunning, so it was natural that as a teenager Gary was always modifying his own cars.
Gary’s professional life started at Chick Iverson Porsche in Newport Beach, California, in 1961. (Chick Iverson sold the first Porsches on the West Coast and was best buddies to John Wayne, but that’s another story.) Gary began in the detailing shop but quickly moved into the parts department where new Porsche owners came to find accessories to make their cars look a little different than the other guy’s: fog lights, a different exhaust system, a change of wheels and tires, even removing the front and rear bumpers.
Gary spent ten years helping personalize Porsches, but, as time passed, Porsche enthusiasts became more interested in concours-level restorations and many of the cars that earlier had been “tricked out” were restored, some made even more “perfect” than original.
When Gary purchased Porsche Parts Obsolete in Costa Mesa from Iverson, he once again had the freedom to express his roots and initiated, in the mid ’80s, a wave of restyled 356s that shocked the “purists” who’d spent the previous decade picking the lint out of their air cleaners,
So that’s why his buddies started calling him the Outlaw. Of course, the next thing you know there was a group of these crazy 356ers hanging out together and having a lot of fun with their cars.
Gary then crafted his famous “356 OUTLAW” badge, given to cars that shared Gary’s outside-the-box theme. Gary would give his “stamp of approval” by mounting the badge on cars that had been tastefully modified to enhance the beauty of the original 356 design, just as his father had done with the cars he fashioned throughout the ’40s and ’50s.
After 1993, when Gary moved with his family out of Southern California to McMinnville, Oregon, the term “outlaw” became somewhat tainted. Many forgot the true spirit of the thing, which wasn’t to cut cars up willy-nilly; it was to modify them as the factory might have done if it had continued 356 development. Gary’s design language, meanwhile, became more sophisticated, and he was joined in the business by son Rod, the third generation of Emorys to exhibit a flair for design and who himself has evolved the “outlaw” look into a series of modified cars called the Emory Specials.
Flash back to the summer of 2007 at the Portland Historics. Tom Anderson, owner of Emory Special #2 (which Rod and Gary had completed in 2006), walked up to the Emory race transporter and introduced Dennis Kranz to Gary and Rod—and to Special #2. Now, Dennis is no stranger to Porsches—he owns a beautiful red ’58 Speedster and has owned various 911s over the years—but he was stunned by the look and feel of Tom’s Special #2 and immediately commissoned Rod to build one for him. After throwing a few ideas around, Rod began to look for a donor car.
Rod started with a 1958 356 A body, found in Northern California as a bare roller. Once he got it back to the shop, it was stripped and suspended in a rollover rack, where it was media-blasted to see exactly what they had to work with. The body needed all the typical rust repair— panels, floors, battery box, longitudinals etc., but once they got the core of the body back in shape, Rod began to have some fun with it.
He decided to begin the tweaks by removing the drip rails, which is a bit of work because three pieces of sheetmetal are joined together to create the rail. Rod started by cutting the rails off in 6.0-in. sections, leaving a 1.0-in. piece intact every 6.0 in. This keeps everything from separating. (Rod had to use a torch to remove all the lead Porsche used in this area.) Then he tack-welded the seam every inch to keep it tight and removed the remaining 1.0-in. pieces.
Then it was time to start welding. This area was gas-welded for a nice, flexible seam; MIG welding creates a much more brittle result. Welding was followed by some grinding and hand work with a body file.
The next change, to the B pillar, was subtle but drastic. The original was cut out and a new one was built, an inch wide and angled forward with large radii in the corners. Because of the B pillar, Rod ordered new widows cut and tempered. He wanted frameless side windows, so the doors were modified to accept Roadster window tracks (an A Roadster window is also frameless), providing a lot more stability for the window.
Dennis made it clear he planned to drive the car around his home in Florida and wanted to improve airflow inside the cockpit. A 356 C electric sunroof was installed in the existing roof, though it was moved forward two inches. A sunroof is a good start, but to drive air through the car the Emorys put a five-position air scoop in the cowl, operated by a lever under the dash. Dennis got his airflow.
Rod likes a car to sit low but doesn’t like wheels hiding up in the fenders. One of the mods commonly done on some of the earlier Emory projects was moving the wheel arches up, and since on this car Rod knew he was going to use 16-in. wheels and that the chassis was going to be lowered, he moved the rear and front wheel openings each up two inches. This also thinned out the front fenders and gave the car a somewhat sectioned look.
In the rear fenders, in front of the wheelwells, the Emorys built hinged louvered panels for airflow and access to the custom side-mounted oil coolers. The louvers are hand-formed reverse type, and the hinges are patterned after those in a 908 short-tail coupe. To enhance cooling, electric fans that pull air though the louvers and into the coolers were also mounted. Hot air exits out the wheelwells. Finally, the Emorys radiused the bottom corners of the doors to conform to the overall design.
The car was set up to run with or without bumpers. Open bumper-bracket holes when the bumpers are off are not acceptable, so Emory started by recessing the edges of the bumper holes 3/8 in. around, similar to a torsion hole on the rockers. Plugs were then built to fill the holes and have a stud and plate on them that are inserted when the bumpers are removed. These were body worked and painted to be flush and unnoticeable when installed. Rod couldn’t leave the bumpers alone, either, so he moved them in closer to the body and reshaped the edges so the body-to-bumper gap is an even 3/16 in. all the way around, which almost gives it an early-body look. Rod also took 0.75 in. out of the bumpers in the center for a more streamlined look.
The Stealth 356 Special was finished off with a special 2500 emblem on the back, Emory Special emblems on the side, a set of bumper-mounted fog lights, a fuel cell with a Le Mans-style through-the-hood flip-top filler, GT side mirrors, and a Spyder license light.
The 911-sourced engine is a Dean Polopolus “Polo 4,” a 2.5-liter twin-plug four-cylinder with 911 S cams. Polopolus, owner of Advanced Performance Engineering, San Juan Capistrano, California, designed this special engine taking into account what the Porsche factory had itself come up with many years earlier.
In 1962 Porsche asked Paul Hensler to investigate a four-cylinder motor based on the architecture of the 911’s six. He found that the internal dimensions limited the stroke, and the head stud pattern limited the bore, so the displacement at that time ended up around 1320 cc. Porsche scrapped the program, and the flat six went on to make history.
In the mid ’80s the air-cooled 911 had reached 3.3L, and it became apparent to Dean that a four-cylinder 911 of just 2.1 liter could be more powerful than the original six. It also became apparent to Dean, after building numerous high-performance 356 and 912 race motors, that a durable motor for the early Porsches was something to be desired.
To the question of building a four-cylinder from a 911 engine, he answers, “The four-cylinder brings some of the early 356 into the 21st century. Almost everyone would like to have a few more cc and another gear to drive on the freeways of today or even the Autobahn. Here again, you see benefits. The four-cylinder outlay in expenses is rewarded in durability and power; there are no trade-offs.”
The value can be seen in the uncompromised German engineering and the quality of parts to assemble. Whether it is a four or a six makes no difference; the premise is the same. Ferry Porsche himself said, “If we knew it had so much potential, we would have made it smaller.”
The Polo 4, which can be built with displacements from 1500 cc to 2800 cc, is typically very reliable and boasts plenty of horsepower and torque, but a few components must be changed and added, including removal of the rear engine shelf. Since the 911 engine is dry sump, an oil tank had to be built, patterned after a 356 Carrera tank, and it was modified to fit in the right rear fender. Some internal baffling was added to avoid starvation in hard cornering.
One of the prime advantages of the Polo 4 is it weighs 100 lb less than the six. It is also shorter (16.25 in.) from mating surface to the nut on the rear pulley, has twice the power of the original 356 engine, and fits properly into a 356’s engine bay.
The transmission selected was an aluminum case 901. The case was modified by cutting a portion of the bell housing out and then blending a 356 741 transmission housing to it where the 356 mounts attach. This allows the Emorys to hang the engine and trans in the stock location. The nose cone on the transmission also had to be cut and notched out so it could get closer to the torsion tube. When doing this you also have to remove the speedometer drive in the transmission on a 901. Once all the mods were made to the case, it was sent out to Import Transmission in Portland, Oregon, for the gearing and installation of the ZF limited slip. Dennis wanted a close-ratio ’box and also a taller first gear.
The car was set up for a short wheelbase 911 rear suspension. The only problem with using this suspension is it increases the track at the rear, which requires making the back of the car wider. It was decided to leave the stock track, so this meant they had to narrow the trailing arms. Rod built a jig and moved the bearing housing of the trailing arms in 2.0 in. While doing this they also were able to set them up for the brakes. The rear sway bar is a 19mm rear bar from a 911.
The front suspension features dropped spindles (by 2.0 in.) and a 22mm Weltmeister sway bar. Since dropped spindles don’t allow for the stock 356 speedometer cable (they already had removed the speedometer drive from the 901 transmission), they had Kevin at North Hollywood Speedometer build them one with an electronic pick-up and a gauge that looks exactly like the 356 gauge but with 911 SC electronics inside.
Rod wanted this Emory Special to have the drum-brake look but with disc brakes. This enabled them to use the RS/60 Annular brakes developed by Dario Calandra, Buddy Cone and Rod. With the large bolt pattern, he had wheels built for the car—16x5-in. billets with the look of an early Pre-A wheel—finished in a satin, brushed clearcoat to help them avoid brake-dust stains. Tire size is 195/60-16.
The interior design brief was “simple and elegant,” so a dark green leather and green carpet was chosen. The seats came from Fibersteel, the carpet and interior trim from Autobahn. Rod’s interior installer, Tom Finley, installed and upholstered the seats, which include black corduroy inserts. The 911 R steering wheel in black is an appropriately sporty choice.
The roll bar is non-removable with side bars and is painted gloss black. Because a later transmission was used, the shifter had to be changed to a C shifter base and a Willhoit short shift lever, finished off with, you guessed it, an Emory Outlaw Eagle shift knob.