Passion. It’s why you fall in love with a special someone, and it’s why most Porsche owners eschew other marques. It is a visual and visceral feel that never disappoints. That passion breathed life into a multi-year project to build the very personal Porsche Outlaw in our story. The unique process earned its own appellation: “Creative Chaos.”
Chaos…The Good Kind
There must be something in the water in New Jersey that inspires. Some of the most creative people in the Porsche ecosphere buy, own and, more important, build extraordinary cars here. One such person is Dr. Charles Lennon, who has a restorative dental practice in New York City and his hometown in New Jersey. And yes, he is passionate about Porsches.
His garage rivals most professional shops. He builds cars to show and drive on the track and the street. He also enjoys judging on the concours circuit. In his garage, quality craftsmanship is critically important. He has always been compelled to restore all things neglected. Throw in knowledge of the marque and enviable creativity, and you have what’s needed to build an outstanding classic Porsche.
Dr. Lennon was emphatic that we call his car’s story “Creative Chaos”, explaining, “Chaos in daily life has a negative connotation. In science, it has the equal opportunity to be positive as well as negative. Within the creative world, I believe, it has a more positive effect than a negative effect. The chaos that occurs during the design, development, and execution of a project like this pushes and propels the creative juices. Within this environment, one notices more and looks closer and longer at things that can enhance the project. Ideas are attempted, rejected, fabricated, rejected, attempted, and so on.”
“You have to accept frustration as part of the creative process.” Dr. Lennon says adamantly. “Within the creative process, unforeseen challenges and setbacks are to be expected. The ensuing chaos fuels the creative process. It pushes and propels the evolution of the build.”
The initial inspiration for this project was the unique beauty of long hood 911s. Dr. Lennon’s admiration for them drew his eye to a Porsche body sitting on a lift in the shop of Porsche legend, Peter Dawe. Dawe said the chassis had “not been messed with”—meaning, it was never made into a race car. “That 1969 911 found me,” Dr. Lennon says without guile.
Dawe would sell him the car provided he didn’t make it into “just another track car.” He agreed, and that “un-messed with” chassis, with forty to fifty boxes of parts, came home in his trailer. He envisioned a project that would be modern and evolutionary but with the design that he loved. That was the spark that ignited his three-year dream car build.
Brought to Life
Pre-1976 Porsche bodies were prone to suffer the ravages of salt and frequent exposure to rain and snow. You can’t build a strong car on a weak foundation destroyed by rust. Confident from completing multiple restorations and track builds in the past, Dr. Lennon set about cutting out the offending areas and carefully fitting, butt-joint welding, hammering, and smoothing fresh metal.
“With each project, I look forward to dealing with different aspects of rust and/or hidden physical damage,” says Dr. Lennon. Using a dentist’s skill and patience, he attacked the damage as both a master and apprentice.
While working through the rust issues, he, quite coincidentally, met Pino Angiulli, owner of RSR Autobody in Wyckoff, New Jersey. The doctor had purchased a neglected, abandoned project left at Angiulli’s shop. When he retrieved the car, he met Angiulli and realized they both shared the same passion for early 911s. Plus, Angiulli had already completed several full-on concours-winning restorations. They instantly bonded, and Dr. Lennon decided to move the Outlaw to Angiulli’s shop.
After the doctor finished the metalwork, Angiulli guided him while he did all the priming, block sanding, and preparation for paint. But what would be the perfect color? While many people are attracted to bold hues, they often choose unobtrusive safe colors for their daily driver. But not Dr. Lennon.
“My 1973 911 RS authentic replication is light yellow with blue graphics,” he says. “Both are Porsche factory colors, but the factory never chose that combination! I chose that combination. I love it, and I have never looked back. Now I needed another color to excite my eye.”
He initially settled on orange for his non-matching number 911, but that proved more complex than he expected. After looking through pages of choices, he decided that it had to be a color he called “burnt orange”.
“Coincidentally, when I left the paint shop with that color impregnated into my creative brain department, I was at a red light next to a truck painted my [exact] color!” continues Dr. Lennon. “It was a New Jersey Turnpike truck.” Then, while at the Amelia Island Concours, he saw the burnt orange hue on a Duesenberg. When asked the name of the color, the owner responded with a broad smile, “Mack Truck Orange.” An Outlaw Porsche in a truck color. Absolutely perfect!
Having made the body color choice, the next issue was the brightwork. Dr. Lennon offered up the different plating possibilities against the burnt orange and determined satin nickel was the best choice. Every piece of brightwork, every nut, bolt, and washer had to be satin nickel, whether seen or unseen. Next, it was time to work on the underpinnings.
Mike Caraccioli has a long history of Porsche race car builds and track-side support. He has been Dr. Lennon’s go-to person for suspension, brakes, and fabrication, often helping on the weekends. The suspension chosen was Elephant Racing street/track and Tarrett anti-roll bars, but this evolved as the project progressed. When aligning the car at the desired ride height/stance, the torsion bar suspension exposed its limits. The answer was a coil-over suspension. Three steps forward, one step back. The Bilstein components came out of his inventory and were sent off to Elephant Racing. The spindles were dropped, and the shocks were rebuilt and valved properly.
The early 911S front calipers and 911 3.0 SC rear calipers needed to be seriously upgraded to handle the powerful engine being built. There are not many choices since the design chosen had to fit inside 15-inch Fuchs alloy wheels—another reminder of the early, narrow-body aesthetic. The decision: 917 front brakes and a rear brake package from Zuffenhausen in North Carolina.
For the engine, Dr. Lennon went for a much more powerful flat-six powerplant, but one that had an early 911 look. He collaborated with a highly respected Porsche mechanic, Gaspare Fasulo of Gaswerks Garage in Paramus, New Jersey, and together they came up with a 3.4-liter engine for the Creative Chaos Outlaw.
“We bought a 3.2 motor and 915 transmission, and then we totally rebuilt them,” says Dr. Lennon. “I wanted the power without the modern look.” Final decision? A 3.4-liter MFI twin plug. The build, completed in the doctor’s garage, would be a team effort of a brilliant teacher with a willing student. In addition, Dr. Lennon insisted that they build a run-in stand for his engine. If something is not correct on the stand, you are looking right at it and can fix it more easily.
Fasulo is well known and connected to many specialist shops nationwide that refurbish critical engine systems like throttle bodies, capacitor discharge (CD) boxes, and mechanical fuel injection (MFI) pumps. So, after disassembly, these parts were sent out to the appropriate technical experts. Dr. Lennon said that they opted for mechanical fuel injection so they could maintain the desired period look. Plus, he had all of the pieces and parts tucked away in his vast inventory of 911 components, including a full-on RSR race-spec MFI pump.
To make the linkages line up, they used 930 cylinder heads. These brought the throttle bodies up to the proper height so the linkages would function perfectly without extra machining of the original heads or adding flanges. Then, Dr. Lennon and Fasulo worked side-by-side reassembling the new engine. The doctor also created the ‘jewelry’ for the flat-six, which consisted of many custom machined components only visible to the discerning eye.
Another conscious design decision to achieve the ultra-clean engine bay was to build the engine showing as few wires as possible. Similar builds used a standard harness, and the mechanics would just tie back the unused wires. In order to have a thoroughly clean look, they had a custom wiring harness made. Another aesthetic decision was to paint the engine compartment body color.
“If you paint the compartment black, you lose contrast,” explains Dr. Lennon. The orange and graphite grey graphics worked well on the exterior. He wanted a third color. The darkest purple he could find was chosen and used on any component in the interior and engine compartment that ordinarily would have been black. This dramatic effect can be seen in bright sunlight. Another visual treat is all the exposed metalwork that was meticulously cleaned and vapor blasted.
With important design and structural issues in the rearview mirror, the fundamental character of the build was still a jumble in the chaos. Inspiration from an unexpected place reached Dr. Lennon.
“I have been very fortunate to have been a judge at the Greenwich Concours,” he says. “Several years ago, an email went out looking for volunteers to judge the newly formed Hot Rod class.” Not only would this be an opportunity to explore the diversity of fabrication, but Ken Gross, Mister Hot Rod himself, was the chief judge. During the event, Gross became an immediate mentor.
When Dr. Lennon asked him what he looked for in a custom build, Gross told him to look for a common thread—a common theme. With each car judged, Dr. Lennon increasingly understood what he was saying. Gross’s advice served him well when it came to creating the design for the interior—it had to tie back to his 356-inspired rework of the engine lid.
Dr. Lennon has a twin-grille 1962 356 Roadster. Late one night, looking at the rear deck lids on both the 911 and the Roadster, he felt that the twin grilles rotated into a horizontal position could be interesting. He removed the grilles and placed them horizontally on the 911 deck lid. The proportions just looked right. Not wanting to modify the original metal lid, he ordered a fiberglass early 911 lid and did the modifications, cutting and laying in the new grille. Going forward, the 356 became a source of inspiration.
“I used the 1962 twin-grille Roadster as my guide,” says Dr. Lennon. “I had the physical parts to begin the design of the interior.” All the custom car build shows moved him to dream of custom-designed CNC interior pieces. All those thoughts evaporated when he examined the interior of the 356 closely. The result was sensuous door pulls, window cranks, and dash switches that would light up red and, yes, blue. Of course, nothing installed was simply out-of-the-box.
“Numerous bits would get custom milled knobs and pieces for the engine bay as well as the interior by Charlie at Olsen Engine,” continues Dr. Lennon. He kept coming back to what he learned from Ken Gross—a thread that would tie everything together. The multiple needs to complete the interior were then easily answered by using 356 components.
Of course, the carpeting had to be German 356 “Square Weave.” Dr. Lennon described it as “a woven material that felt much more substantial and sophisticated than the common Perlon material.” But who would he use to execute his vision for the interior? He admitted that he did not have any design experience in that area but said plainly, “My eye can see it…”
The craftsman for the job was found nearby—right there in New Jersey. The shop is called Creative Automotive Interiors and was just a few towns away. The owner, Rodger Pisani, was immediately intrigued by the project and insisted that he had to have the car in the shop to do the job to the level they both wanted.
“I would trailer the car to the shop and work alongside him three days a week,” says Dr. Lennon. Pisani didn’t usually allow anyone from outside to work in his shop, but he admitted that the doctor was a quick learner, and he let him mirror many of his efforts. Pisani was backed by years of experience. Using that storehouse of knowledge, he coached on subtle but important things, like the color accenting for stitching and ways to make textures more visually exciting.
The seats were done by Stefan from GTS Classics, and they feature inserts done in suede and smooth leather weave. The selection of leathers for the interior was defined by the leathers used for the seats. Dr. Lennon insisted that the leather weave and the smooth leather used on the seats have a gentle and noticeable transition on the door panels. Pisani was unable to locate matching orange leather, so the answer was to custom dye an entire hide the correct shade.
They would work and, several times a day, step back to discuss ideas as to where they were going. Dr. Lennon was constantly pushing the creative process, with Pisani advising him what could and could not work. The door panels combine three kinds of leather, three textures: smooth orange, to separate the two distinctly different textures of black. A simple but perfectly placed satin nickel trim piece helped define the transition. The 356 door pull was incorporated into the trim.
Dr. Lennon always drew from the palate before him. He suggested ways to use the orange stitching in the steering wheel, dash, one-piece knee pad, and garnish rails. The dash metal was painted orange. In person, the effect is subtle but sets off the design remarkably well.
The exhaust was another thread tied to 356s. Dr. Lennon had a custom muffler, headers, and heater boxes made that would bolt up to a Porsche 3.4-liter flat-six. However, he told them to build the muffler without any exhaust holes! He envisioned recreating a “stinger” exhaust from the early days of Porsche racing but, of course, one that was timely and unique.
The exhaust tips had to fit the custom cut-out rear center panel. This could only be done with the system mounted in the car. He shared his ideas for the exhaust with Jay, a master welder at Peter Dawe’s shop, and together they came up with a modern stinger with dual exhaust tips. Jay created the bulk of the tip, but Dr. Lennon went to his metal inventory and found the perfect round bars to shape, weld, and grind to create the proper outer border trim. Time on task didn’t matter; the final product is what mattered. Plus, it really gives a rich exhaust note that quickly clues you in on the hot-rodded engine within.
Wrapping up, Dr. Lennon did not want anyone else’s badges on his car.
“I mean no disrespect, but I chose that no name would adorn this car—only what I designed,” he says, “My ’73 with that great ‘Carrera’ on the side told me I needed a side script. ‘Sixty Nine’ did not work. ‘Six Nine’ did!” Russ Dubel came to the rescue using Porsche fonts. The ‘Outlaw’ and ‘Six Nine’ badges were milled by Billet Badges. The unique custom milled front hood crest and horn crest were by way of Steven Bibdin at Additive Restoration.
The doctor wanted the bumperettes to fit tight to the body. The process he was contemplating would be several days of work with a possible disappointing outcome. He knew there had to be a simpler way. Several weeks passed. Then, one morning, the answer came to him, 180 degrees from the initial plan.
Out came 0.75-inch tape applied parallel to the rear edge. A cutoff wheel removed a strip of metal from the back edge. Bracket repositioned and new holes drilled. The work was done by afternoon and ready for satin nickel plating. They fit perfectly with a minimum of work and had the exact look he wanted. Chaos fed his creativity.