During his college days in the mid-1960s Jim Slawson happily motored about in a sporty 1958 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia convertible.
“However, Porsches used to blow by me like I was standing still,” Slawson remembers with a tinge of envy.
As both middle age and practicality approached, Slawson recalled those Porsches from his youth. After he sold his last motorcycle the search for a vintage Porsche began in earnest. In 1986 an ad in the local newspaper offered for sale a 1962 Porsche 356B Super 90 coupe — exactly what Slawson wanted.
He made arrangements to see the car that evening and thought it looked pretty good. He convinced the seller that the two of them should have Slawson’s trusted mechanic inspect it the next morning.
The inspection revealed nothing of consequence, but Slawson persuaded the anxious seller to reduce the price by $1,500.
Slawson says he and his Porsche sat for a month in the garage. He became thoroughly familiar with every aspect of his 13-foot-long Ruby Red car.
In 1962 Porsche offered several versions of the coupe with available engines rated at 60 horsepower, 75 horsepower, or as in Slawson’s car, 90 horsepower.
The four-cylinder, 1,600 cc air-cooled, powerplant mounted in the rear of the 1,980-pound Super 90 coupe is sufficient to push the speedometer needle up to almost 110 mph.
Adjacent to the speedometer is the 7,000-rpm tachometer with a red line of 5,500 rpm. “You don’t want to go above that red line for very long,” Slawson cautions. He marvels at how spacious the cockpit is in the diminutive car that stands only 51.7 inches high. “Basically, you’re sitting on the ground,” he remarks.
Virtually everything inside the Porsche is black from the headliner on down to the carpet including the three-spoke steering wheel and dashboard.
“Everything still works, except the gas gauge,” Slawson says. He explains that soon after acquiring the car he discovered that the 13-gallon gasoline tank had rusted.
During the reconstruction process the sending unit did not get replaced. Consequently, Slawson stops every 150 miles to top off the tank with premium gasoline. So far his practice is working since he has never run out of gasoline. A small door on the right front fender conceals the unsightly cap on the gasoline tank.
Of course the dual Solex carburetors can be thirsty if pushed hard. On the other hand, Slawson has driven his Porsche only about 5,000 miles in the 23 years that he has been its caretaker.
Beside the gasoline tank, Slawson reports that his car has needed only basic attention, such as drum brakes, fan, generator, voltage regulator and a clutch.
The 165×15-inch tires mounted on chrome-plated wheels can be changed two at a time because the Porsche jack ports are on the sides of the car. The jack simultaneously lifts both tires on the same side of the car off the ground.
Slawson is pleased to report that in addition to the chrome wheels his car is equipped with a luggage rack over the twin grilles at the rear. He also is happy that the twin exhaust pipes exit through ports in the rear bumper guards. Many Porsches with that feature have black exhaust soot marring the bumper guards. Not so on Slawson’s car. “They don’t get dirty,” he says, “not when you wipe them off every time you take a drive.”
Taking a drive is always an amazing experience in the nimble Porsche that rides on an 83-inch wheelbase. Slawson installed an AM/FM radio, which never gets used. “I prefer listening to the car,” he says.
For 23 years the car has received wonderful treatment that is evidenced by its appearance. When Slawson moved to his current home in Brentwood, Calif., his Porsche made the trip inside the moving van.
Although Slawson has a protective black bra for the front of his car whenever he takes it out, these days his red Porsche languishes beneath a protective cover inside his garage.
“I still love the old car,” Slawson admits, “even though the license plate reflects what it’s like to own one — “4EVR FXN.” — by Vern Parker, Motor Matters
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Copyright, Motor Matters, 2009