There are no Mr. Miyagi characters in automobile repair and restoration. ‘Wax on, wax off’ is just too distracting and a very inefficient use of time. You want to learn something? Do it until you get it right. And then do the same thing a hundred more times until you get very good at it.
That was the philosophy of Hoffman Motors in New York, described as America’s most famous Porsche distributor and showroom. Just to make sure their mechanics and technicians are masters of restoring a Porsche 356 A back to road condition, the company created this – a 356 A complete of everything except the body.
The respective staffs are then made to tear down every little bit that can be disassembled, and then have it put back together. Then tear down. Then assemble. Repeat. This will go on until the person has mastered the task.
This is a functional chassis too, although not in the regular way of a normal car. The left side has a VW-type suspension set-up with thrusted ball bearings, while the right is the reinforced type with tapered roller bearings. This way, Hoffman’s mechanics can learn about the car in its early and later stage of designs. There’s a tiny handmade four-gallon fuel tank, while the fit tolerances are made deliberately larger than factory-spec if only to make life not too hard for the technicians.
As any good automobile at Sotheby’s that’s up for auction, the story of this training chassis goes deeper. Once the 356 A was replaced by the 356 B, this chassis somehow made its way to Boston, before it was found by a former national secretary of Porsche Club of America. This knowledge then found its way to Bill Jones, who apparently had been hunting for this very ‘car’ after first seeing it at Hoffman’s workshop in 1959. In 1976, Bill Jones had the real thing.
The restoration process took 11 years with many of the original parts retained. It will go under the hammer at Sotheby’s later this month with a no-reserve price of $100,000-$150,000 (RM416,000-RM623,000).