MY FAVORITE RIDE: Original owner, daughter restore classic Porsche

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comMay 20, 2013 

The car: 1959 Porsche 356A 1600 Super Coupe

The owner: Original owner Jack R. Willson of Atwater; given as a gift to daughter Kathryn W. Enos, Merced.

What are the key features of your vehicle? The car is a 1959 Porsche 356A 1600 Super Coupe maintained and restored by the factory and original owner. It's quite a rare find. The car was successfully used in competition in Great Britain for two years. The car was stored for 40 of its 54 years. It has been passed on from father to daughter. Together we spent a year restoring it to its original condition in 1983, winning a first- and a third-place prize in its first two concours d'elegance car shows. The car is in excellent drivable condition, with a newly rebuilt engine, and we plan on showing the car beginning this summer.

What did you have to do to get it in its present state? The Porsche has been repainted without a speck of plastic filler and not a sign of rust. The interior has been restored to its original condition, and the engine has been rebuilt. Many hours of elbow grease from me, my wife, Sally, and daughter Kathryn have gone into this car.

What else do you want to do to it? We will do whatever it takes to maintain the car's present condition.

How did you acquire your vehicle? I bought the car new from Porsche in Stuttgart while stationed in England with the Air Force.

Why did you pick that particular vehicle and what do you find appealing about it? The vehicle was a state-of-the-art competitive sports car well-suited to its racing class. The military encouraged Americans to fraternize with the British, and the Porsche dealership appreciated the advertising for Porsches.

What started your love affair with cars? From the time I (Kathryn) started to drive, I had an interest in cars and was driving a tractor at age 7, reading Hot Rod, Road & Track, and Car and Driver at age 15, just to name a few such magazines. From the seventh grade on I always wanted to push the Porsche out of the garage and just wash it and sit in it, developing an early interest and love of the car. I begged Dad to let me work on it, and I think I finally wore him down. Pushing the car out of the garage in 1980, our restoration began.

What advice would you give others about starting such a project? The project must be to find the car that you have a great interest in, and to maintain the car. For those jobs that are beyond your capabilities, hire the best professionals you can and throw a lot of money at it. For the items that you can do yourself, do the best job you can and throw a lot of money at it.

Do you have any other collector vehicles or project cars? I have a 1923 Dodge Business Coupe.

What is your favorite memory about this ride? My (Jack's) favorite memory about this ride was competing in England and winning the American Drivers Club 1959-1960 Championship Driving Trophy presented by Dan Gurney and Masten Gregory, as well as an 8,000-mile, 30-day drive with my wife, Sally, on the European continent, and driving the Nurburgring. My favorite memories (Kathryn) will always be those long drives with my dad, hearing all the stories about his rallies, hillclimbs, and motorcross events, complete with times and places. Dad even has the book with the European road maps of the 8,000-mile tour that he and Mom went on.

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