This last weekend, we spent our time with thousands of other Porsche enthusiasts down in Los Angeles, and that is never something to complain about, even when the weather doesn’t quite cooperate. It was a three-day whirlwind of amazing cars, parts, toys, and literature on display and on sale for all to see, and a couple of days later we’re still reeling from the Porsche-centric sensory overload. The old-school were out in full force, as the parking lots were packed with aircooled of all types, but the newer watercooled guys weren’t turned away at the gate either. This was a Porsche event for all who worship in the halls of Stuttgart, and any interested parties were welcomed with open arms. As good as the cars were, the central focus of the weekend was actually purported to be “toys and literature”, which for those of us crazy enough to care about such things, proved even better. Everywhere you looked, there was something new, something rare, something you used to own once, wanted to buy, or bought. We ended up taking home a few pieces, even, but were much more restrained than we otherwise could have been.
We would be absolutely remiss if we did not thank our friends at Stoddard for inviting us down to join them for the weekend. Stoddard NLA, LLC provided travel and accommodations for our trip to Los Angeles, and we couldn’t be more grateful. Their parts display at the show on Saturday and Sunday was the largest and most eye-catching. If you have a vintage 911 or 356, please consider checking out what they have to offer at Stoddard.com or NLAParts.com. Without Stoddard’s support, and others like them, this site really wouldn’t be possible.
We made our drive down to the Greater Los Angeles area on Thursday afternoon so we could be raring and ready to go early on Friday morning. There are literally dozens of great Porsche shops in the area, and Friday is when most of them have their openhouses. In years past, I’ve spent time at most of them, and the big attraction for the day is decidedly the grille cookout and dyno-day at John Willhoit’s shop. This year, we decided to keep things a little bit low-key and visit some friends on Friday in the quieter corners of the Porsche community, rather than negotiating the extensive crowds for the chance of a free Bratwurst. While they didn’t explicitly have organized open-houses on Friday, I stopped in to visit Benton Performance, a shop well known for 4-cylinder performance, but they do excellent work on sixes, too. Their shop was overflowing with upcoming projects, a sign that people really trust and value their craftsmanship. John Benton is a great and charismatic personality, so chatting among he and his crew for a few hours was a no-brainer. Our second stop was to perennial favorites European Collectibles down in Costa Mesa, again, not explicitly having their open house (that is reserved for Saturday), but we went along for lunch with shop owner Nick and some of his exuberant staff to a lovely little Mexican food restaurant around the corner. A bit of poking around the shop as they cleaned up in preparation for Saturday unveiled a whole lot of awesome. The star of their show, unfortunately, wasn’t scheduled to be delivered until later that day, so more on that later. Following lunch, we took off back north to visit friend and sponsor of the site Nicolas Hunziker at his new art studio. On the way, we stopped at Callas Rennsport to see a whole stack of 959s, a few Carrera GTs, and the real deal 911R #1. The blue 914 there, was packing a more modern 911 powerplant, and looked spectacular in the overcast afternoon. Hunziker’s shop was an awesome place to visit, mostly because they had laid out an excellent spread of snack foods, but also because his art is second to none. We, of course, had to pick up a couple of new t-shirts before we left. Our final stop of the day was to Klasse 356, which resides in the same complex of buildings as Hunziker, making it a quick walk over to see a couple of gorgeous works-in-progress.
Saturday woke bright and early to the first of two major swap meets, this one focussed mainly on Toys and Literature in the ballroom of the LAX Hilton. The hall was filled with exquisite parts, toys, junk, and books that you probably didn’t even know existed. Stoddard had their gorgeous parts displays out, lugged to LA all the way from Cleveland, OH. That display nearly dominated the massive hall, but I have to say it was hard to compete with my heart when Pelican Parts had one of Wayne’s 962 engines on display in their booth. The show was interspersed with handshakes and fan autographs from the Celebrity among the Porsche world. Without doubt, Mr. Jerry Seinfeld was there to find something new, and actor James Woods was also scouting for bits for his 1970 911S. The folks only recognized by the cognoscenti were also out in full force, with the Ingrams, the Cabiglios, and many others making their way through the crowds. We managed to make it out the door without spending too much, only bringing home a vintage Gulf 917 themed 500-piece puzzle.
Following the swap meet, all of the vendors packed up their gear and transported it over to Anaheim in preparation for Sunday’s show at the Phoenix German Club facilities. We followed along to get a sneak peak at what was to be shown under the big-top tent. California Porsche Restoration was in the midst of unloading half-a-dozen expertly restored longhoods, and the Benton Volkswagen parts truck is always a wonderful sight. The final activities for Saturday were taking place back down in Costa Mesa at European Collectibles’ open house, so we high-tailed it down there for dinner and entertainment. As luck would have it, we were allowed an up-close-and-personal tour of the newly completed 550 Spyder #0075, which headed out to Amelia Island the following day just in time for the Concours.
Another day, and another early morning rises to another swap meet, and unfortunately an unending rain as well. We decided to stay in Santa Ana on Saturday night, so we had an easy drive in to the swap meet in the morning. Arriving well before the crowds at about 7AM, we had plenty of time to set up as the vendors started to roll in. I think show attendance was down a bit this year, and the weather is most likely to blame. That said, there was still plenty of really cool stuff flooding in through the gates. Do you want a set of wide 3-piece wheels wheels? Do you want a nice refurbished 912 Engine case? Do you want an original 2.7 RS fuel tank? Maybe some new seats? Refinished brake drums? Reproduction 917 calipers? All of that and more were available if you had the cash. Sunday is usually where the deals are to be found, as the vendors don’t want to haul all of their stuff back home with them. If you can brave the nasty rain, you can see everything you’d ever need for your restoration project.
We’re not sure what the deal was with that long-hood 911 sporting RSR flares. From 10 feet away, it didn’t look too bad. As you got closer, the details started to show themselves. Custom cut T-tops and paint that looked like it was applied with a roller were the details your eyes avoided at 10 feet, but up close in the pale truth, this car was a disaster. It was for sale, but we didn’t ask a price. With a lot of work, it could have been an exceptionally interesting r
We’ve been saying this for the last three years, but if you get the opportunity to come down to LA for this swap meet weekend, you definitely should. Plan for it next year, as the level of product being sold here is more impressive each time we visit. I’m not sure why attendance was down on the whole, but it did seem that there were far fewer Porsche fanatics than there were last year, and significantly fewer than in 2014. It’s worth seeing, just for the shop tours on Friday. Go if you can.
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