After studying Economics and Philosophy, Matt Kreeve came to Cape Town to work in Asset Management. Fifteen years later he found a passion for air-cooled Porsches and today he has a neat collection of these special cars and an independent workshop, called Dogleg Werks, close to Cape Town’s CBD.
Words: Wilhelm Lutjeharms
Matt Kreeve's passion for driving started at a very young age... and with a bang! “I was six when I crashed my uncle’s 450 SL into his garage door when I took it out of Park while pretending to drive."
“My gran used to let me 'drive' her Jaguar Mark II while sitting on her lap. The rest of the family would fly from Johannesburg to Plettenberg Bay, but we would drive instead. I remember we got stopped by the cops once and I had my Star Wars helmet on claiming it needed testing! We could do the trip in around 14 hours... My dad was also a keen driver and loved his early BMW 5 Series and my uncles their Mercedes-Benz SLs and Jaguars. It was a family affair!
“I grew up with very few tools around the house. My first car was a 1976 Alfa Romeo Spider which I got in Canada when I lived and studied there. That broke down regularly, so I started learning by necessity.
“Then I came back to South Africa in 1994 and I bought a Volkswagen Beetle. I started moving up one car at a time, from the Beetle to a Golf, then a VR6 and a few others finally followed by a proper car - the Audi S2. Then a friend of mine who was dying asked, 'What are you waiting for? What do you really want to drive?'
The desire for a Porsche
“I told him that ultimately I wanted to drive a Porsche. And he said, 'well, stop delaying and buy the car you really want!' He sadly passed away and soon after I took his advice and bought one. And he was so right!
"It was a 2006 997 Carrera S manual in white with a full blue leather package. I loved the blue dash. I joined the Porsche Club soon after and I was using it on track days, too. Then Porsche Centre Cape Town phoned me and told me that they had a client for my car and asked whether would I like to trade for a 996 GT3 RS, with some cash difference. The cash I got out of that deal I spent immediately on the suspension of the RS and then I started racing it in Sports & GT at the WPMC.
“I soon wanted to start making it lighter and more track-focused. I spent a lot of time on the international forums and some guys couldn’t believe I was racing a 996 GT3 RS. I had in-car videos of my races and within four races I was in the middle of the pack. But, it was still a road car.
“Then a fellow racer approached me and said he would give me cash and his 996 Cup (a factory-built) car for my 996 GT3 RS. The Cup car is faster, but what I loved about the RS was that I could drive it to the track, change my wheels, race, and then drive home. But, I did the deal as the Cup car was so much lighter and better suited to the job.
“Then I decided to buy a 964 and to modify it for fast road driving and I used the Cup car to race. The only Porsche I’ve ever bought new was a first-generation Cayman GT4.”
In the workshop
The black 964 Carrera 4 in the workshop has received a host of upgrades, making it more driver focused than the standard car. Apart from a number of Matt’s 356s, there is also a 912 which will soon a undergo a restoration as well as an Outlaw 930 (Slantnose Special Wishes) Turbo.
“When I got the 964, I decided to upgrade the car with all the things I’ve read about. It was about the driving experience for me. I didn’t know how to cut a piece of metal, but I quickly started learning about these cars and how to work on them through the help of others. Enthusiasts like Dave Alexander, Peter Gough, Jan Diederick and Konrad Langeveldt, as well as other WPMC and Porsche Club members kindly assisted me.”
Things changed for Matt when he decided to sell his share in the Asset Management company he was working for and to go freelance as a consultant.
“I started working at home more, and I thought I should build a garage, as I was working on my driveway which was rough and inclined! I couldn’t find anyone to build a garage, so I build it myself. Again, I need to mention the forums, as those have been instrumental in my ability to learn and then I went onto Garage Journal and learned even more from that platform. A friend found me a car lift and my garage at home was built and well-fitted out for less than the original budget, which was a welcome start.”
One thing led to another, and by the end of last year things fell into place for him to continue working on his own cars, but also on clients’ cars with new premises in Woodstock. Called Dogleg Werks, Matt has been able to enhance his offering of services with the help of some experienced hands from the Porsche-focused industry. He also recently acquired a massive number of air-cooled parts and engines from Johannesburg for both 911s and 356s.
Is there a "secret sauce"?
“I thought that there was some 'secret sauce' when it came to working on these cars... that if you didn’t have training at the factory and you don’t have an engineering degree, it's impossible.”
According to Matt, that is however not the case.
“There is a huge amount to be learned from other fanatics and their experiences. Of course, it's worth every cent to purchase the original source books such as the factory's parts book and workshop manuals and I started studying these, and then I started doing some technical work myself. You learn with the help of other enthusiasts and then you realise there is no 'secret sauce' – it is focus, having the right tools and hard work. At one stage I was spending 30 to 40 hours a week reading on online sources, including the forums.
“I liked the idea of a '30-year refresh' for 964s and the '25-year refresh' for the 993. This entails dropping the suspension and gearbox, expertly cleaning these parts, resealing the engine and putting everything back together with all wear items replaced. On my 964, for example, I had the engine remapped, removed over 200 kg of weight, and then I started to fabricate other parts, inspired by the Singer 964s from California.
“Things took a turn when three dilapidated 356s were found in Durban. Just before that I drove a friend’s 356 to Porsche Centre Cape Town for a service, and during this drive – my first time behind the wheel of a 356 – I started to really appreciate the source DNA of these cars. By that time I had done a number of modifications, resto-mod stuff and renovations to 356s, but I wondered whether I could pull off a Concours-level restoration. One of the 356s that I bought in Durban (a rare silver T1) had been parked and hadn't run since 1979..."
Again, Matt invested in all the factory books, and spent a long time educating himself before embarking on an everything "by the book" nut-and-bolt 356 restoration. It is during this process that he decided to do one 356 Concours restoration and one as an Outlaw - the latter wasn't a matching numbers car.
Matt continued building his collection from there and today there are a number of 356s, air-cooled 911s, a 912, and (still) a 996 Cup car as well as a 996 RS in his collection. With knowledgeable staff having joined him since 2016, it is clear that his cars, as well as clients’ cars, result in a workshop with a whirlpool of air-cooled goodness any day of the week.