Article by Andrew Bonwick
Photos by Paul (Felix) Rieniets and Michael Chapman
The inaugural 993 register event was organized by Michael Chapman who is having some time off from club duties. One would have though that a long stint as President would have used up several lifetimes of organizing enthusiasm but no, Michael has taken on the start-up of the register for what I won’t say is the last of the true Porsches.
Do you get the sense that this register may be a little controversial, at some point?
We gathered outside the building at Essendon Airport which is the new home of the Fox Museum Workshop. The workshop had to move from Docklands (where the Museum is still located) as a result of the many re-developments of the Docklands area.
A mix of old and new faces were milling around outside the door – why are airfields always cold and windy ??? – waiting for the last members to beat their way through the traffic. Michael asked us for input on a proposed ‘993 Register T shirt design, along the lines of “how about this color”. Surprisingly when he asked 8 people for an opinion on the color he got 9 responses – none of which actually enthusiastically endorsed the only color displayed. Not to be outdone he pointed out that this was the only color available, so we all said it looked very nice.
At last we were let in to the workshop, accompanied by Rupert Alexander, who is the mechanical component restoration specialist at the Museum.
A casual wander around a cornucopia of exotic restoration projects was an excellent way to spend the next hour or so. The workshop is floor has several very interesting projects under way. These include the building of a new body for a Mercedes 300 SL speedster. One of the examples of this car in the museum (they have several) was in very bad condition, having been in several accidents and quite badly rusted at acquisition. Using an original set of factory drawings a new form was constructed from marine ply, and the replacement panels are being hand fitted onto the form. This restoration is in a very early stage, as is the complete rebuild of the body of a convertible Bentley.
The Bentley is still at clean steel, and allows the coachwork and fabrication techniques used in its construction to be clearly seen.
A dark green Jaguar drophead convertible was parked up, waiting to re-enter the museum after completing its restoration, and a pristine example of a gull wing Mercedes was also one of a large number of cars examined by the group. A 3.5litre Jaguar SS, a wide variety of Mercedes saloons, including a stretch Mercedes limo previously owned by Bob Jane and possibly also Ringo Starr, and an assortment of Bentley’s stood around. No Porsches, although I am not sure what that signified, as there were some very nice ones outside!
From an individual point of view, I found the cars much more engaging, than when the club visited the museum itself 3 or 4 years ago. There is was something much more ‘normal’ with the vehicles in a garage awaiting attention, than in the almost artificial surrounds of the museum. This might also be a aspect of the very much smaller group and the commentary being provided by Rupert.
The evening finished off with the obligatory group photo – almost like being back at school – and dinner locally. A very pleasant way to spend an evening, indeed.