Which Sixties European Performance Icon Would You Restore?
A highly original classic car is a very special thing, something it can only be once. A well-cared for machine will always wear the marks of time, regardless of the love and attention lavished on it by previous caretakers—wear, as well as small mistakes are bound to happen, after all. A warm, soft patina only ads to a car’s depth of character, but there’s a fine line between patina and outright shoddiness—sometimes, restoration is unavoidable.
In a new feature we’re calling “Which Would You Restore?”, we feature the neglected, the forlorn, the rusty and incomplete. For those of us with the skill, time, patience, and no small amount of vision, these projects represent golden chances to preserve and protect historic treasures, and to save them from the indignity of being recycled into corrugated steel roofing. Original may be best, but it’s far better for a great old car to wear incorrect, non-lacquer paint than to not exist at all.
We’re kicking off with two of the best mid-level European sports cars of the 1960s, a poor old Porsche 356 and an abused Alfa Giulia Spider. Generally speaking, the Alfa appears to be the less difficult (we won’t say easier…) prospect between the two. Sold with a disassembled, matching-numbers engine, but missing the entire intake system including carburetor. Inside, the seller claims the seats are all that is not included, but we’re sure there’s lots of absent trim pieces belonging to both the interior and exterior as well. No mention of rust is made, but this being a nearly five-decade old, open-topped car from Italy, it’s wise to plan on encountering at least a moderate amount of tinworm.
We can only speculate on potential resto costs based on the limited amount of info available for this car, but it’s safe to say that a quality job will be will into five-figure territory. A reserve auction with no BIN, matters are further complicated by the fact it’s impossible to predict an outright purchase price—provided, however, the seller is willing to part with the old girl for close to the minimum bid of $10,000, there could be an argument for the project as a sane investment project, as well-restored examples currently fetch high $20K prices on the low end.
Which brings us to the Porsche. Oh, the sad, little old Porsche… Largely a 356-shaped piece of iron oxide at this point in its existence, the commitment, both of the financial and emotional type, required to see this car through to completion will be simply monumental. A 1960 356 B, the auction includes a disassembled motor and transaxle, a few pieces of glass, and lots of Swiss cheese. Fortunately, parts for 356s are quite a bit easier to come by than with many other classics of the period, the aforementioned Alfa included. Thanks to high-quality reproductions and a huge and very active worldwide Porsche community, we have little doubt nearly all needed pieces, big and small, mechanical and decorative, can be sourced with relative ease, if not affordability.
Like the Alfa, restoration will not be cheap, in fact, it probably wouldn’t even make much financial sense given the current market for these cars. Even with a modest $10.7k BIN and a restored value roughly $40–$50,000 higher, the opportunity for a quick flip and profit look awfully slim for this particular example. Still, there’s the incredible satisfaction of turning an absolute wreck into a beautiful, healthy runner again, something whose value can’t easily be measured. Besides, if one held onto the finished project long enough, there will certainly be room for a gain in the long run—how long, though, isn’t for sure.
So, which would you go all in for?
1965 Alfa Romeo Spider
1960 Porsche 356