Earlier this year, while in the Los Angeles area for the Vintage VW and Porsche Literature, Toy, and Memorabilia Swap Meet, I sent a message to a colleague of mine in the Porsche business to see if they wouldn’t mind my stopping by the shop for a semi-private tour. They were preparing for their Saturday evening open house on Friday, so I had to promise that I wouldn’t get in the way of the work that needed to be done, but ‘sure, no problem’. The shop’s doors were officially open for business anyway, so nobody was going to stop me, but I was forewarned that there would be a lot of hustle and bustle as the grounds were cleaned up and organized in preparation for hundreds of visitors the following night. I’m a guy with a camera, I won’t get in the way. GPS waypoints set to Costa Mesa, we headed on our way. I’d been there before, but I am always blown away by their inventory, and the quality of their restorations.
As I walked up to the shop, I saw an easy half-dozen long hood 911s sitting out front that were ready for purchase. I was instantly caught up by the Sand Beige long wheelbase Targa here. It looked like a whole lot of summer time fun, and would have been perfect for cruising the beaches on the PCH.
There aren’t many other shops in the world where a cleaning would entail moving out a near priceless late Fuhrmann Four-Cam engine, among many many other engines, out into the light of day on an engine stand. As you can see in the background, many of the cars to be displayed still had their car covers on while I was there. One of the salesmen was jokingly trying to make a last minute sale of what was ostensibly the ‘worst’ of the cars there, and only non-European model, a Datsun 1600 Roadster, to anyone who would listen. I know I say this a lot, but if I’d had the spare money, I’d have probably driven it home.
At the back of the shop’s very open floorplan was the paintbooth. I assume this booth gets a lot of action, as they move a mind boggling amount of collector cars and vintage restorations through this shop in a year. This 356 Speedster is pretty par for the course around these parts, as there were at least half a dozen of them floating around in various states of beautiful restoration. I particularly like this photo, as the black car just looks fabulous in the middle of a clean white paint booth.
I’ve never understood the appeal of the 911 Speedster. It’s just such an odd bit of machinery, with such odd proportions. Maybe it’s that I’m a tall person that would have a hard time driving this car with the roof installed. Either way, the market completely disagrees with me, and these are rapidly growing in value, and are the ‘must have’ du jour for P-car collectors. As such, European Collectibles keeps this very nice low-mile example around waiting for the right buyer.
Up in the main showroom, there were some really beautiful cars, including this row of early 911s that were still wearing their original paint. There was a beautiful blue car in the corner that had some glorious patina’d tiny rock dimples in the front trunk lid and bumper. There’s nothing more beautiful about an early Porsche than it having been used as intended.
While walking around admiring the dozens of gorgeous machines, I heard the unmistakable sound of an old four-cam powered something or other coming down the street. Intrigued, I had to go check it out. Expecting a rarity like a Carrera Speedster, or maybe a later Carrera 2 Coupe, I wasn’t even half prepared for what was actually making that luscious sound. It was a 904. Not just any 904, but chassis number 904-051, a car that placed on the podium in class at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1966.
This Porsche, until recently, was powered by a 906 spec flat-6 that was not original to the chassis. The car, and its original four-cam engine, amazingly came up for sale last fall, and through a bit of serendipity, the Porsche has been refitted with its original power unit. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 904 Carrera GTS four-cam car with its original engine intact until now. So many of these original four-cam cars either had engines explode in the heat of battle, or were tossed aside in favor of a flat-six when that became the engine to have in the later 1960s. I was honored to even be in its presence, and wish them the best of luck in selling it. It’ll surely bring top dollar.
On top of the 904, they also had an original engine 2.7 RS being built up next to a gorgeous 356 GS/GT Coupe. Some of the cars that come in to the shop to be sold aren’t exactly perfect, and the master craftsmen at EC have to expend lots of time and elbow grease to get them fixed up just right before they migrate over to the ‘for sale’ showroom. These Porsches look pretty close to being ready to move.
Even the engines that are going to be installed in the engine compartments are clean enough to eat off of. This 1600 four cam was sitting on a stand looking like a piece of art. The original design is more than 60 years old at this point, but it still looks both beautiful and strangely modern. The crazy bevel gear shaft-driven everything engines are something of a pet research project of mine. I can’t get enough of them. This particular engine was an early design with the twin distributors driven directly by the camshafts. From what I hear, they’re an absolute bear to get timed properly.
This 1974 2.7 Carrera was, unfortunately, not the superior MFI version that Europe got, but a US delivery version with CIS injection instead. The difference in power is staggering, with the ROW markets getting 210 horses out of a 73 Carrera RS spec MFI engine, and the US version making do with the 173 horsepower from the CIS spec engine out of the 911S. Even saddled with CIS, this Carrera looks beautiful in its original paint and decals, and probably drives like brand new.
While the main focus of European Collectibles is in the Porsche world, they are more than just rare P-cars. There were also a handful of Ferraris, a gorgeous Lamborghini Islero, an old Aston DB, a Merc 300SL, and even a Messerschmitt KR200 Bubbletop. If it’s rare, collectible, valuable, or unique, chances are good they either have one, have had one, or can get one.
You know that these early narrow body mid-year 911s are going up in value when there’s one on the EC lot. I think I fell in love with this one’s spectacularly green flanks and chrome accents. This would make for an excellent driver grade investment, as these things just won’t stop going up in value. While I’d prefer a nice long-hood 912, this impact-bumper car would be a nice consolation.
All in all, I’m really happy that I stopped in to European Collectibles. I got to meet up with some of their really knowledgeable and genial staff, I got the opportunity to see some of the nicest collector cars in the world right now, and learned quite a lot about what goes into preparing some of these cars to the ultimate degree. Being that I’ve been covering vintage Porsche auctions for FLATSIXES for a couple of years now, I’m always interested in talking about values and what cars to keep an eye on in the future. Of course, some of the cars pictured here have extraordinarily high price tags, they are also some of the best examples of each car available. Also, while I was told some of the prices of these cars, I won’t publish them here, as that isn’t my place. If you are interested in something you see, give one of their top notch salesmen a call, or schedule a visit.
[All images ©2015 FlatSixes.com/Bradley C. Brownell, All Rights Reserved]