Over the past 10 to 15 years, the term "Outlaw" has become synonymous in car culture with individuals or, in some instances companies, who transform standard (classic) cars to their own or clients' very individualistic preferences. We take a look at just such a South African Porsche 356 C Outlaw.
Words: Wilhelm Lutjeharms
In Porsche circles well-known enthusiast Magnus Walker is a prime example of an individual who has “outlawed” a number of his cars. With the Porsche 356 having such an extensive racing history, it has always been a favourite to hot-rod over the years. I can imagine some purists having their hands in their hair by now, but note that very often it is not mint 356s that are Outlawed, but rather near-wrecks or cars that are simply not possible to restore back to their former glory. That is also exactly the case with this specific 356 C.
This car was discovered in KwaZulu-Natal where it was parked, unloved, for many years. When Matt Kreeve found it, he knew it would need extensive restoration work.
Building an Outlaw
“It was a matching numbers car (engine with the chassis), but it was irreparable, so it made a perfect candidate for an Outlaw," says Kreeve. "The interior was also very messy. I wanted a car with a red interior and Stone Grey exterior colour, and then to add my own personal touches to it, such as the centre filler, as an example.”
The build started with a complete strip-down and the removal of all the rusted areas. Half of the nose section of the car had to be replaced. As can be seen, the bumpers were removed, resulting in a much cleaner and sportier-looking 356. Another practical addition is an LED brake light that is fitted in the rear grille. The standard brake lights are very low compared to modern cars. Another safety upgrade came with the addition of seatbelts.
“That is the beauty of resto-mods, you can put elements on the car that appeal to you. Apart from visual updates, you can also do practical updates. For example, instead of having to go underneath the (front-mounted) fuel tank to top up the brake fluid, I put the reservoir in an easier spot. The updated engine parts I bought from Willhoit Auto Restoration in the USA and the leather I imported from a supplier near Gmünd in Austria. We also lightened the car and did a lot of seam welding to make it stronger. We added a camber regulator to stop the wheels from tucking in under load, adding to the car’s handling capability.”
It is the engine that is one of the highlights of the car. Enlarged to 2.1-litres from the original 1.6-litre, the flat-four now produces around 110kW, significantly more than standard 356s from that era.
- Buy a stunning 1/18 scale AutoArt model of the Porsche 356 A Speedster raced by James Dean by clicking here.
Some interesting memorabilia that have been fitted to the car include two badges, one being a replica Nürburgring badge and the other a real Monza Formula One badge from the Sixties. There is even a metal number plate, just as cars used to be fitted with back in the day.
“The challenging aspect of such a project is sourcing the parts. The engine and gearbox builds were rather straightforward. Getting the interior perfect, however, was rather difficult. Then, to get the body completely right, without the use of body filler, was another significant challenge.
“The most joyous moment was when it was all done and taking the car on a trip early in 2020 as part of the Cape 356 Tour. Over the course of a few days we completed around 1 000km. Also, when I take it out to car runs the reaction from fellow enthusiasts is huge.
What to consider when looking for a Porsche 356
“If you are considering buying a 356, be it a perfect example or for a project, you need to decide what you want to use it for. This is a game of horses for courses. This Outlaw was built for touring and long-distance travel. I’m very specific when it comes to what a car is going to be used for. Once you've made your decision then you build the car towards that goal.
“You also need to decide whether you are aiming for a concours-level car, a good daily runner or a car for an enthusiastic driver. I tend to build ‘canyon carvers’ - cars I can take out early in the morning for a drive to a mountain pass and have a great time. If you want a car to cruise in, your suspension setup will be different, your gear ratios will be different and your compression ratios will also need to change.”
Matt admits that it will be hard for him to sell this car owing to the amount of work that went into it, but at least he knows that if he ever should sell it, he could build another!