Featured: Workshop5001's Custom 911 Build Is An OCD Tribute To Porsche Perfection

Workshop5001’s Custom 911 Build Is An OCD Tribute To Porsche Perfection

Ted Gushue By Ted Gushue
November 11, 2016
20 comments

Photography by Ted Gushue

Marlon Goldberg’s been on our radar for a little while now. The Ex-Singer employee struck out on his own recently and opened up shop in Los Angeles under the name Workshop5001. They do some pretty exceptional work in the maintenance department (I take my 911 there, for example), but what really caught my eye at his shop was this Nardo Grey 911 that he kept calling the Battleship. I kept nagging him about it  ’til eventually Marlon and I took it up to Malibu for a dawn shoot. Afterwards he walked me through the whole build.

Ted: Marlon, how did this Nardo Grey 911 start it’s life?

Marlon: A client had actually bought it from a BringAtrailer.com Auction. It was already a little bit of a hot rod. It had a 3.2 motor from an ’86 in a ’73 chassis. The thing was too tatty for the client, and originally it was a “Well maybe we just do some new seats and a steering wheel,” kind of scenario.

Ted: Tatty meaning it was worn out.

Marlon: Yeah and it was a little bit of a hodgepodge in the way it was put together. It was rough around the edges. At first the goal was to just kind of sort it out and make it a nice cruiser, and then when we started really check-listing what the car needed. It was clear that it could benefit from a full restoration. So that’s what we decided to do.

Ted: I think every vintage car could “benefit” from full restoration but you went over the top with this one.

Marlon: Right, we went pretty big. We made it a proper hot rod.

Ted: What did you first do?

Marlon: Bare tub, media blaster. We always start with an absolutely bare tub. I didn’t want to be wasteful. I wanted to utilize as much as what we had there as possible. Things that were serviceable were addressed and we only replaced what was needed to build what was essentially a brand new car.

So for instance we stripped the engine down to a bare case and cleaned it. I mean doing one of those motors I usually spend a week cleaning parts. Same deal with the 915 gearbox. Just got it perfect, arguably better than new.

Ted: The car doesn’t seem to be on steroids, except it is kind of on steroids. Is that a fair description?

Marlon: I think that’s fair. At the end of the day you’re still talking about an air cooled 911 here. Driving around town I think a lot of these cars feel very similar. It’s when you get on it hardcore in a canyon that you start to see the pack separate. This car has over 300 horsepower, which is a lot for this chassis, but a lot has been done to make the car live up to the power plant. The engine was dynoed before it went in the chassis. It was 304.9 horse power at 7,300 RPM in an 83 degree dyno cell. It’s a strong motor. Which meant that we had to give it strong brakes to compensate.

Ted: How much did the car weigh?

Marlon: The car weighs, with a full tank of gas, 2,366 pounds.

Ted: Why did you keep it narrow bodied? So many builds of this quality and attention err towards the flared out RS fender style. Somewhere between an RSR replica and a Singer, where of course you spent some time. What made this build different?

Marlon: I think part of it is just my personal taste and it’s sort of aligned with the client’s taste. I think at first he wanted stickers all over the car and some version of a Magnus Walker build, you know, some of the things that are normally visually associated with a hot rod. I understand that aspect of the culture, but I’m really understated. I like stealth power. So we really aligned on that and built our dialog with the customer around that philosophy, which of course shaped the outcome of the final build. Some of the big fenders start to look cartoonish to me. These cars were so perfectly designed off the line that to mess with that doesn’t feel right in some cases.

That also expresses itself in the drive of a narrow body that’s done properly like this one. It’s like comparing a ballerina to a linebacker – both effective instruments, one is just much more precise than the other.

Ted: When you’re building a car like this, how similar is the relationship with the client to a patron/artist relationship?

Marlon: I think there’s definitely an element of that. We sort of joke that we facilitate insanity at our workshop. At some point it becomes a gray area with who is facilitating who’s insanity. Great client builds are always a symbiotic process. A lot of that comes from me having worked many years at a dealer. You get on the same level as the client, the same wavelength. It makes for a much better end result.

On this particular build the motor was the biggest work of art in the project. It was such a labor of love between Bobby Singh and I. We worked on it here at the shop in L.A. and then dynoed it at Randy Aase’s. It’s all Mil-spec wiring. Anything that was a rare item that we were replacing was replaced with the best of the best. All said and done we had a 3.4L engine with Mahle Motorsport cylinders, CP pistons, custom cams, GT3 oil pump, twin plug heads, coil on plug, Carillo rods, and Motec injection paired to Jenvey individual throttle bodies.

Ted: Explain Mil-Spec wiring to me. Surely there are less serious options out there that get the job done?

Marlon: It’s all made custom to our needs. Lightweight, strong, sealed properly. If you look at a lot of modern car harnesses they barely even cover up the wires or they have a little bit of mesh or only certain sections are covered. We do them with the full raychem sleeve. It’s the same way you would do an offshore race boat or a rally car that’s semi-submergeable. It’s going above and beyond in quality of what the factory ever did for normal production cars. Plus with the old cars it’s very difficult to get an original harness.

Ted: What about the interior?

Marlon: For the interior we re-used some of the trim pieces and covered them in leather like the original dash, the tops of the doors, the rear side panels and with some modifications for the roll bar that we made. We used skinny back hides throughout and then we found a company in Scotland that did a custom tartan for us. We picked out the colors and the frequency of the colors. That was pretty cool, a little hot rod touch.

Ted: Anything else we should know about the car?

Marlon: One of the biggest things that we do all in-house is the metal work. After the car has been media blasted, it comes back and it goes on our celette bench. We don’t just use the celette for normal structural repairs like corrosion or if the car had been hit and is slightly bent or tweaked. We also utilize it for sport purpose modifications like stitch welding, making roll cages, and so on. We have the car fixtured on the bench to get it straight and true, then we can do all our metal work. I think there are very, very few shops around the world doing that. That’s a major focus of their restoration and to me it’s the first and most important step of the build process.

Ted: How many of these a year can you build with your capacity?

Marlon: Right now we’re a small crew. There’s about 4 of us in the company and we have a new guy starting right around the New Year, graduating from a restoration college. Our capacity is probably a couple cars a year, but we can add people as the demand increases or we would maybe stop doing some of the service work and medium and small size projects that we also are doing right now.

Ted: What are the next builds you are working on?

Marlon: We have a ’74 911 that is going to have a 3.8. That car is Mexico blue with Can Can Red, it’s sort of a street racer. It’s for a husband and wife. They go auto-crossing together, but also want something that’s not like a typical track rat. They want something that’s a just a little bit over the top, not a track rat. Then we have a 914 that just left for paint and we have a 356B CAB that we’re putting a polo motor into. We’re building that properly. It’s just come back from the media blaster.

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20 Comments on "Workshop5001’s Custom 911 Build Is An OCD Tribute To Porsche Perfection"

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Matthew
Matthew

Looks like a fantastic shop driven with great passion. I’m very envious. But the panel gap on the front bumper, rhd side below the indicator lens may need looking at….classic FBG droop.

Paula/workshop5001
Paula/workshop5001

Thank you for the comments! The skinny tires are vintage AVON CR6ZZ race tires. They are like bubblegum and handle the horsepower very well!

Amir Kakhsaz
Amir Kakhsaz

Truth being spoken right here: These cars were so perfectly designed off the line that to mess with that doesn’t feel right in some cases.

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

Definitely love to have a date with this ballerina! I Love the narrow look and the steelies! Just wonder how those little tires deal with 304hp?

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay

Ditto all of that! Looks like a little negative camber both front and rear.

This is the best looking 911 I have seen profiled here. Well done.

Paula/workshop5001
Paula/workshop5001

Thank you for the comments! The skinny tires are vintage AVON CR6ZZ race tires. They are like bubblegum and handle the horsepower very well!

Douglas Anderson
Douglas Anderson

Let me be the elephant in the room and ask , just how much does this sort of car cost to do at this level. Considering that the prices of air cooled have been at stupid level for the last several years. I begin to wonder how people can afford to do any of this any more.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Sigh .. most certainly by any count … it aint cheap in the slightest . But then again a skilled mechanic with the right tools could do much of this him/herself on an airhead Porsche … and the parts ? … a little searching digging around bartering etc … suffice it to say it still wouldn’t be ‘ cheap ‘ … but it could end up a whole lot more affordable .. especially if starting with one of the less than loved airheads

John Montesi
John Montesi

Wish more people with lots of money and aircooled P-cars were doing things like this to them.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

1) That aint no restoration . That there’s the very definition of a mild resto – rod

2) And what a clean and tasty just this side of anonymous till that 300 hp kicks in resto mod it is .. right on down to the wheels .

Which is to say .. a huge two thumbs up !

Vic
Vic

He mentions a ‘restoration college’. Can you expound on that?

Clayton Merchant
Clayton Merchant

Vic, probably the best known program in the country is at McPherson College in McPherson, Kansas.
You can check it out here if you’re interested.
http://www.mcpherson.edu/autorestoration/

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Thats the one I couldn’t remember the name of . And yeah … I’ve seen a lot of their work first hand … top drawer all the way

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

There are about 20 or so trade schools across the US that either focus solely on automotive restoration .. or have a restoration major in their degree line up . Closest thing out my way is WyoTech and the one out in the Kansas prairie who’s name at present escapes me

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

GS,
Not sure what region you live in. I’ve looked and didn’t find any restoration schools on the west coast. Do you know of any?

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
I’m out here Rocky Mountain way . And though I do know there are several schools out your way that offer restoration programs I’ll be ( censored ) if I know any of their names . I’d give a call over to Steve Moab’s place [ he and his sons are genuine mensches always ready to help ] http://www.moal.com/01_abo/sub_03.html … and ask them . If anybody’d know .. it’d be them . You’d be shocked if you knew how many restored Ferrari’s etc coming out of other shops had most of the work done by Moal’s crew . But as… Read more »
Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

Thanks,
Great lead! And I knew the Moal name sounded familiar, you brought them up another time which is where I first saw their Gatto creation. Unbelievable!

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
You are most welcome . And thanks for giving me the excuse [ checking in to make sure you’d seen my reply ] to come back and revisit this Porsche . Dang she’s a sweetheart . As for Moal .. as much as I love Gatto its the California Speedster/Licorice / Torpedo trilogy that really does it for me . I’ve got photos from the Moal crew of all three hanging in my studio as they exemplify my approach to composing .e.g. Euro meets Hot Rod . . At one point Steve and the gang considered putting the California Speedster… Read more »
Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

Thanks again.
I’ve piddles around the edges of restoration work for years I would love to learn the skills to really do it.
I’m actually farther north than CA but kudos to JB!

dkgbhpw
dkgbhpw

Perfect combination: tasteful, creative, technically superb, and showing all due respect for the work of the guys who designed the original.

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