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1963 Porsche 356 Carrera------Update! 5/22/17


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I'm in a bit of a building slump/depression due to working a bunch of hours again (was at work today), and just sort of a bluesy feeling I get from time to time when it comes to the model hobby. I couldn't help however going back again and again to Jason McMinn's absolutely gorgeous Porsche 356 Carrera Speedster! This is another favorite of mine from the '50's, and it made me wonder what happened to the Carrera coupe I built many years ago. 

Well, I went to digging around on my third floor where all the models are (a LOT), and I found it! Dusty as all get out, and I don't even remember when I put it away as it obviously was already dusty when I dug it back out. I decided to try and get me out of this building slump, I'm going to attempt something I don't think I've done before-----restore a built model of mine that's mighty old. 

Sooooo..........while this won't be an all out detailed build of things like I usually do, I'm going to try and bring this one back to life as it's one of my favorite cars, and at the time I built this (1987-88), was one of my favorite models. Here are some pics of the rather sad shape it's in now.........


I should have taken some pics before I set about to take it apart. Nevertheless, I don't think it would have held up anyway, as things were literally falling apart as I was picking it up! :o


There's some rather deep scratches in the glass, and I'm not sure I'll be able to get rid of those completely. I wanted to take the glass out altogether, but IIRC I used Testors cement (the semi runny kind) on the glass, and it sure set itself in there mighty good over these past 30 years!

The best I can do is to very carefully sand the glass with successive polishing cloth grits, and then try to polish the glass out as much as possible. Of course, if I were doing this as a new build today, ALL the glass would be replaced with clear stencil sheet, as that's MUCH more optically clearer than any kit glass.


I originally painted the body with Model Master Ivory which I airbrushed on with a Badger 150. I had only been airbrushing a couple years at that point, and I thought the paint was very nice for the time!

Now, I'll simply give the body a good cleaning--------perhaps with some mild soap and water, although there is a small decal on the passenger side front fender. I may just hand wash particularly the top of the car as it's the most grungy/dusty, and then give the body a good wax job with Meguiar's Car Cleaner Wax.

I'll then give the trim a go with BMF as the silver paint I used back then just won't cut it today. The panel lines unfortunately are a little heavy to my view, as I was playing around with using India Ink back then to define them a little more. I wouldn't use that today, but short of stripping the body totally and starting over (not gonna happen) I'll just live with it and look at it as something I learned from 30 years later. ;)


Here's the beat up chassis/frame. The side panels which I used tube glue on (sparingly) literally fell off the chassis as I was pulling the body off. Of course, the seats will be cleaned up, and taking a tip from Jason's build, I'll use ribbed Evergreen sheet to replicate floor mats. I might go fancy and use embossing powder to replicate the carpets, but the seats are glued in (still) mighty stubbornly, so I may leave it be.


Here's the dash which still looks good after all these years! I won't do much to this as I don't want to ruin the gauge decals.


Other parts that will be redone and reattached. The body parts seen will be cleaned up and waxed along with the main body.


Here's the absolutely beautifully molded Porsche four cam engine! Of all the Porsche engines I've seen done in scale, to me this is the most impressive!

IMO, it's worth it to buy two kits of this car, (if you can swing it) and then build the engine separate to display alongside the built model. Of course, lack of reference on my part (it WAS 1987), and skill, I now know that the engine wiring is woefully wrong for a Porsche twin cam. There should be eight plug wires instead of four as each cylinder used two plugs each. 

I'll try as best I can to get it rewired, but I can't promise something won't break along the way. I could always just make a new distributor and of course put new wiring in. Thinner wires I'll use this time around than those thick heavy wires I had back then.


One thing I remember on the instructions which I think is a mistake is how they want you to mount the engine after it's built. You're to put the transaxle in first installed in the chassis, then put the engine in. 

While this is all well and good as you might be mimicking the way the actual car was built as it came down the line, this I found leaves an unacceptable gap between the transaxle, and the engine flywheel. Better to build everything together as a single unit, then install it all together. 

OK! I'm going to go work on getting those gouges out of the glass, if I'm unsuccessful at getting rid of them, I'll see about popping the old glass out, and then going the route of the clear stencil sheet. All the while, I'll get the body cleaned up, things reattached, and hopefully all back together to put in a nice case where it'll hopefully last another 30 years! :D 

Edited by MrObsessive
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LOL! Funny thing is Gary, I now have to dig out the instruction sheet as I've taken more things apart, and now have to keep in mind the sequence on how they go back together! :D

Believe it or not, I still have the original box that the kit came in.

One thing that's NOT forgotten is how cantankerous these kits can be! I have to make sure that everything goes back together the same way, otherwise something in the end won't fit. Love these kits though, and they certainly look good when finally done. 

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Awesome Bill! Can't wait to see this come back together...you did some great work on this old Porsche 30 years ago and it will be interesting to see how you approach the restoration with everything you've learned as a builder since then. This looks a lot like my first 356 I built right around the same time..Testors Ivory paint, black interior and all, although I guarantee it was nowhere near this nice.  No idea what happened to it between high school and college, though...  I'm glad my little Speedster inspired you to take us with you on this trip down Memory Lane! 

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Wow, that looks very nicely put together! Glad to hear you're keeping the original body paint as it really suits the car and era.

Regarding the black ink in the panel lines, could you perhaps mix up a lighter shade of black  (if that makes any sense at all) and flow really thinned amounts into each panel line? Repeat as many times as needed to lighten the original effect. I suppose you could go the opposite direction and flow in the same Ivory paint as the body. Since it would need to be thinned down so much each application would gradually lighten the panel lines. 

Hope you take lots of pics as you make progress on this restoration as it's already so good it will be fun to watch it get even better. 

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I spent a better part of the day yesterday making the ignition wire arrangement a bit more believable. I got rid of the original distributor caps and made my own out of .100" styrene round rod. 

Drilled out the holes for the wires, and using a wiring diagram I found on the 'net, routed the wires as best I could. I also made plug boots from wire insulation and slid these over the ignition wires. BTW, the plug wires are 30 gauge Kynar wire that can easily be found on the 'Bay and comes in all sorts of colors. The only nit I have about this wire is I wish it were just a teeny bit smaller in diameter, but this will suit the engine just fine.

Other engine parts will be added back on as I get the car back together.


I needed a break at some point with the engine wiring, so I decided to give the body a bath, and clean up most of the dust and muck that had accumulated over the years. 

I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to get the glass out without much drama. I thought I used regular glue in putting the glass in, when in reality I had used white glue (Crystal Clear) in setting the glass in. 

I gotta tell you that was some GOOD STUFF as it was in there mighty tight! 

I polished the body up with Meguiar's Car Cleaner Wax and a chamois cloth, and it's interesting how the paint is still nice and brilliant after 30 years! One casualty though of this model being so old, is that there is a tiny paint chip on the roof. Heaven knows how it got there-------my better sense tells me to leave it alone as trying to touch it up would be problematic. More than likely the touch up area won't match the rest of the body paint wise, so I'll just leave it alone.

Another bugaboo is that the windshield wipers are among the missing. I think I have some PE ones around here somewhere, otherwise I may have to rob them off another kit. I do have the driver's side mirror------I thought it was lost, but it was inside the model and fell out just as I was taking it apart.

I'll be BMF'ing the trim just before the whole works gets buttoned up.


Nice project! I think I have a front windshield if you need.

Fabrizio, that was real nice of you to offer, but I got the glass trouble licked as you'll see.............. ;)

I was able to get rid of those deep gouges in the glass by using first an 1800 grit polishing cloth, and working all the way up to 12,000 grit. Then it was polished out with Meguiar's Car Cleaner Wax. 

There still are some very fine scratches to banish, but the main thing is those gouges are now history!


Regarding the black ink in the panel lines, could you perhaps mix up a lighter shade of black  (if that makes any sense at all) and flow really thinned amounts into each panel line? Repeat as many times as needed to lighten the original effect. I suppose you could go the opposite direction and flow in the same Ivory paint as the body. Since it would need to be thinned down so much each application would gradually lighten the panel lines. 

Hope you take lots of pics as you make progress on this restoration as it's already so good it will be fun to watch it get even better. 

Mike, I thought about doing that, but I don't want to tempt fate and ruin what's already a decent paint job, albeit thirty years old. I also get to look at it as something I did way back when, and how that technique has evolved over my years of building as something I wouldn't do today. In fact, I think this was one of the few if not the last model I had used this type of panel line enhancement. Thanks for the tip though!

OK, now it's on to getting the suspension back in order, then sprucing up the interior a bit, and hopefully there are no hangups into getting this one back together. ;)

Edited by MrObsessive
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Oha! Bill is (re-)builing a sweet 356. That i will follow...like all your wip's.

it is always a exciting work, restore an old model. Till now, your work Looks good! Very tidy and well considered!

Bill, if you Need some parts you dont have to rob it out of your kits. send a pm and i will do my best. some of my 356 are only planed for parts. like the box you stored, you have the instructionsheet also?

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Thanks Dominik! I thought I had the original box, but unfortunately I think the box was one of the casualties of the flooding that happened to my place six years ago. I have three other kits of the 356's (another coupe, Speedster, and "Hardtop" model), but I'd rather not raid those kits to get extra parts. The unbuilt coupe kit has full instructions in its box, so that's what I've been using to get things back together.

I also have a built Cabriolet that I did I think a couple years after building the coupe. That one could stand a good resto also, but it's not in as bad a shape as the coupe.

I'll be sending you a PM regarding a couple parts, so keep a lookout in your inbox. ;)

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So that's where you were Saturday. I missed your appearance at the NNL, but I was able to score a few things. Pretty good show, and believe it or not. someone called me Bill. I took it as a compliment, but told him you now weigh about half as much as me now. I love those 356 Porsches, and the one you are doing is pretty nice. I am in the same boat with a 911 Cabriolet I built several decades ago. I would like to preserve the paint, but I think I have to strip and re-paint the car.

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Ron our deadlines at work have been real killers lately, so I figured I better had gone in to work this past Saturday to try and help things get caught up. After work, I came right back home and went to bed as I had gone in at 3:30 that morning.

On the model front, I've since taken more of the chassis apart, and it's at the point where it's practically being rebuilt as if it's a new kit. Thankfully I have those instructions! :o 

I'm going to use embossing powder on the interior to replicate carpeting to spruce things up, and I hope I can get things back to the way they were so the car will sit right once it's all said and done. I'll try to have more pics up by weeks end on the progress.

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Ripping off an I idea I saw on Jason's build, I made floor mats for the 356. 

Interesting that as detailed as this kit was, they didn't give you something to cover up the floor stampings------just bare floor which I'm sure as new, the 356's weren't delivered that way----at least most of them.

I took some Evergreen plastic sheet that had scribed lines in it which are closely spaced (V-Groove .025 spacing, .020" thick). I had to make a pattern to suit the floor shape per side and then used that as a template to cut the shapes.


I painted the mats with Polly S Engine Black paint (now discontinued) which gives a nice rubber like sheen.


Normally, I would double coat the embossing powder, but in this case, since the insides of the car would be hard to see due to it being a coupe, I'm not going to worry about the bare spots. If it were a Cabriolet----oh yeah, I would give the sides more coats as that's definitely seen. ;)

Normally, if this were a new build, I would go all out and try to detail the undercarriage with lines and whatnot. BUT......since I want to finish this in as reasonable a time as possible, I didn't do that this time around, just tried to get everything back together like it was. There's mold/parting lines that could stand to be banished, but that would mean whole new painting of the parts, and that's not my intent for this particular model.

This won't be a show goer due to its age, just a nice display model to suit my collection..............again! :)

BTW, I had broken the tie rod when I was disassembling the chassis............thanks to Dominik of Germany who's a regular on the board here. He's sending me replacement parts from a kit he's parting out, so I went ahead and raided another 356 kit I have to get this one done. Thanks Dominik!


Interior is about complete..........I'll add the interior door panels and rear firewall, after I make a pair of coils for the dual ignition. Another nod to Jason's Speedster! :D


Before I get too far along, I thought I'd test fit the chassis into the body to make sure the car sits the way it should. So far so good, and with the interior panels to follow, I don't think I'll run into any trouble..........at least I hope!


Ok! This'll be the last update before I call this one done! I'll spend this week finishing up the chassis/interior bits, spiffing up the other wheels with my Molotow pen (I used it on the wheels you see here, not the hubcaps), and adding new trim with BMF. Hopefully I can get this all done by the weekend since it's a holiday, but I suspect I'll be working this Saturday (again).

Thanks for tuning in!

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Likely delivered with one big rubber mat that covered both foot wells over the tunnel and half way up the fire wall. PITA to take in and out. What you have done looks like a reasonable representation of what it was. Fuel tanks were generally grey unless replace am. I have one of these to build someday. Looks good.

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Nice rebuild. It's always great to see your work, even if it is 30 years old. The timing on this is perfect as I am picking up a complete/ sealed inside kit of this today from a shop here. I convinced the owner to hold it for me. Paying $40 but I noticed as I was rifling through the box that it comes with a complete extra set of tires and wheels. (one of my favorite parts of this kit)


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All I can tell you fellas is that if you're going to build this-------Patience, Patience, and some more Patience! ;)

This is one of those kits that demand attention to everything that's done. Moving too quickly building it will be at your peril. Considering when this kit was tooled (mid to late '80's), I look at all the Fujimi 1/24 Enthusiasts Models to be landmarks in the model hobby! I still have both their Ferrari Daytona Spyder and coupe to build someday.........the Spyder is actually one of my all time favorite Ferraris. I also have their Ferrari Dino, actually two of them. One I built around the time of this Porsche, but since has been totally taken apart and body stripped of paint, and an unbuilt one sitting among all the other models I haven't touched yet! :D

Who knows-----I may decide to rebuild that Dino as another "slump buster"!

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