With the value of Porsche 356 models rising exponentially over the last number of years, most surviving examples are being kept in original condition or restored to perfection these days.
But every now and then you get an owner who goes against the grain, and usually with great results.
The owner of this eye-catching 1961 356B 1600 has a real love for the road rallies of yesteryear, and it was one of those events – the original Carrera Panamericana – that inspired this build.
The event ran in Mexico for five consecutive years between 1950 and 1954, with competitors originally racing from the Texas to Guatemala border covering over 2,000 miles of open road. Interestingly, the Carrera Panamericana was masterminded by the Mexican government as a way to showcase the country’s new highway, and this resulted in drivers from all over the world flocking to the country to compete in all manner of vehicles. Because who wouldn’t want to go flat-out on public roads with the authorities’ blessing?
Despite its short run in the early ’50s, the Carrera Panamericana was resurrected in 1988 as a classic rally, and today it continues to take in some of the original route.
The look of this car was inspired by a 356 that was driven in the 1953 race by Guillermo Suhr Contreras. That 356 had the same silver paint, the same yellow number design on the side (albeit with number #153) and the same Mobil Pegasus insignias.
The ‘Renngruppe Afrika’ vinyl work here refers to a local enthusiast club the owner is part of, while the ‘La Carrera Panafricana’ is an obvious wordplay on the original event name, with an ode to the car’s South African location.
At the front you’ll find some awesome headlight grills and a checkered flag design. Leather straps were added to keep the bonnet down, while vintage-type spotlights add to the classic rally look.
15-inch chrome-plated steel wheels wrapped in 175/65R15 Michelin tires sit nicely under the fenders thanks to a lower ride and improved handling from a full Koni suspension setup.
Out back, the 356’s original engine has been replaced with an uprated 912 1,600cc unit fitted with hot cams, twin 40mm Weber carburetors, and electronic ignition. The 100hp+ this air-cooled flat-four produces is more than enough for the small, lightweight Porsche, and with a custom dual exhaust system it sounds great, too.
The interior has also been completely refreshed and now features bucket-type classic race seats with custom trim, plus new carpeting and paintwork. The gauges and Porsche badge were also restored, while the logo on the steering was replaced with 3D head motif.
As you can see, this Outlaw 356 was built to be enjoyed on the open road, not kept under a cover in a garage.
It might not ever compete in the actual Carrera Panamericana, but everyone can dream, right? I’m positive that if the owner had the chance to take this 356 to Mexico, he’d be there in a heartbeat.Cutting Room Floor