Films: He Built the Outlaw Porsche 356 That He Wanted

He Built the Outlaw Porsche 356 That He Wanted

Nowadays, it seems “outlaw” Porsches are everywhere and all the rage. Back in the mid-1990s, however, when Mr. Jack Griffin decided to modify his 1955 Porsche 356 Continental, he wasn’t following a customization trend or fad but, rather, taking it upon himself to build the car Porsche would have built given the technology and resources.

Originally powered by a 1500cc, 60 horsepower engine, the 356 certainly offered potential aplenty for customization and improvement. The curvy, sports car lines that are echoed and still visible on Porsche cars to this day, disguised the fact that, underneath, the car was more Volkswagen than anything else. It was also, to a large extent, a product of the 1930s.

With the onset of World War II, global automotive development ground to a halt as manufacturing resources were diverted for military use. Organized racing on a large scale was thus out of the question: even the the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race, so critical to automotive research and development, took a hiatus from 1939-49. Thus, in the years immediately following the war, even a new car was bound to be something of an antique until car companies had time to retool and begin innovating again.

Having owned a long line of those vintage 356s, Jack was ready to try something different when, in 1994, he came across this Continental in Hood River, Oregon. Once he got it back to his garage in Texas, he set about transforming the car into a 356 of his own. In place of the original motor, Jack swapped in a 1720 cc engine from a 1965 356 that now produces 115 horsepower. Next came a 1962 gearbox, which provides a smooth robustness not found in the original, Volkswagen-based gearboxes. The car also received disc brakes all around and, finally, an upgrade to a 12 volt electrical system.

Purists may scowl, but Jack finally has the Porsche he always wanted.

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7 Comments on "He Built the Outlaw Porsche 356 That He Wanted"

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johan overtoom

Dutch Outlaw aka “White Tornado”


I have had the good fortune to meet Jack and see that car in person. It is an amazing car. The car was restored by Roy Smalley (Eurowerks — Campbell, Texas). I have gotten to know Roy and his work and I can say that he is one of the best Porsche restorers in the country bar none.

Paul Kitchen

That is Porsche perfection, interesting history to the car as well. I found this beauty hidden in the corner at Goodwood Festival of Speed…it was traded in for a VW Golf in the early 80’s!

Bruce Schneider

Mr. Griffin mentions Max Hoffman in the video. Hoffman also became the importer of BMWs for the U.S., and conceived and named the BMW Bavaria, precursor to the 3.0, grandfather of the 530i. I learned to drive in my dad’s ’73 Bavaria, and later bought that car from him.

Jimmy Arata
Jimmy Arata

Such a great car, and the owner appears pretty cool also. The essence of motoring, IMO

Emvin Taylor
Emvin Taylor

How about a classic Lotus for a future episode? 🙂
Thanks for making Wednesday mornings more entertaining! – from all the way across the ocean in Malta

Kevin Fitzpatrick
Kevin Fitzpatrick

That’s got to be one of the nicest 356’s I have ever seen! The headlight covers, Fuchs wheels, louvers, are all executed perfectly. I never knew about the “continental” thing either, very interesting anecdote.