1958 Porsche 356 Emory Special
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Dennis Kranz’s 58 Coupe “Emory Special”
In the Summer of 2007 at the Portland Historics in July, Tom Anderson the owner of an Emory Special came walking up to our race transporter and introduced me to Dennis Kranz. Tom then proceeded to show Dennis the Emory Special we had just completed for him. Dennis is no stranger to Porsche’s, in fact he owns a beautiful Black Speedster along with a GT2, GT3, GT3RS, and a Carrera GT. Dennis was taken back buy the look and feel of Tom’s Emory Special and asked me if I would consider building one for him. After throwing a few Ideas around, I told him I would begin to look for a donor car.
We started with a 58 356 A body. The car was found in Northern California and was just a bare roller. Once we got it back to the shop we began like we always do by stripping any parts off of it and then we proceeded to suspend it in one of our roll over racks. Once in the rack, we media blasted it so that we could see exactly what we had. The body needed all the typical rust repair panels, floors, battery box, longitudinals etc. Once we get the core of the body back in shape we began to have some fun with it.
I wanted to tweak the A body a bit. The first thing we did was we removed the drip rails. Drip rails are a bit of work to remove because there are 3 pieces of sheet metal that all join there. You start by cutting it off in 6 inch sections leaving ¼ inch piece still in tact every 6 inches. This keeps everything from separating. Then we tack weld the seam every inch. This keeps it tight. Then we have to use a torch to remove all the lead that Porsche used in this area. After it is tacked we remove the ¼ inch pieces that remain and we are ready to weld it up. We gas weld this area so that we can have a nice flexible weld. Mig welding creates a much more brittle weld. Once welded we did some grinding and then finished it with a body file.
The next subtle but drastic change was the B pillar. We cut the original one out and then built a new one. We made it 1 ½ inches wide, angled it forward, and then did large radiuses in the corners. With the new shape of the B pillar we had to have new widows cut and tempered. We wanted to have frameless side windows so we modified the doors to accept Roadster window tracks. A Roadster window is also frameless and the track provides a lot more stability for the window.
Denis made it clear that he plans to use the car at his Daytona home and wants to improve airflow inside the car. To accomplish this we installed a 356C electric sunroof in the existing roof. When we installed it we moved it forward in the roof 2 inches. A sunroof is great but we wanted to drive air through the car so we put a 5-position air scoop in the cowl that is operated by a lever under the dash. Now we have real airflow.
I like a car to sit low, but I don’t like the wheels hiding up in the fenders. One of the things I do on some of the Emory Specials is move the wheel arches up. On this car I knew I was using a 16 inch wheel and it was going to be low. I moved the rear opening up 2 ¼ inches and the front up 2 inches. This also thins out the front fender and gives the car somewhat of a sectioned look.
In the rear fenders in front of the wheel we built hinged louvered panels to give us airflow and access to the oil coolers. The louvers were hand formed reverse louvers. The hinges are patterned after a 908 Short Tail coupe door hinge. I just happened to have one in the shop that I was able to pattern them after. The oil coolers have electric fans that pull air though the louvers and exit in the wheel well. Then we radiused the bottom corners of the doors.
I wanted to set the car up to run with and without bumpers. One thing I don’t like is an open bumper bracket holes when the bumpers are off. We started by recessing the edge of the bumper hole 3/8 inch around. Similar to a torsion hole on the rockers. Then we built plugs to fill the hole that have a stud and plate on them that will insert when the bumpers are removed. These were body worked and painted and when they are installed they are flush and you don’t even know they are there. I couldn’t leave the bumpers alone either. We moved them in closer to the body and reshaped the edge so that the body to bumper gap is an even 3/16 inch all the way around. This almost gives it an early body bumper look. We also took ¾ of an inch out of the bumper in the center giving it a much thinner look.
The Engine, Transmission, Suspension and Brakes
The engine is a Dean Polopolus 4 cylinder 911. I had Dean build a 2.5 liter twin plug with 911 S profile cams. This engine is very reliable with plenty of horsepower and torque. Using this engine requires a few things to be changed and added. Since a 911 engine is dry sump, we had to build an oil tank. We patterned the tank after a 356 Carrera tank except we built it to fit in the right rear fender. We also added some internal baffling so that we wont have any starvation in hard cornering. In order for the engine to fit in the engine compartment we also had to remove the rear engine shelf.
The transmission is an aluminum case 901. We had to modify the case of the transmission by cutting a portion of the bell housing out and then blending a 356 741 transmission housing to it where the 356 mounts attach. This allows us to hang the engine and trans in the stock location. The nose cone on the transmission also had to be cut and notched out so that we can get it closer to the torsion tube. When doing this you also have to remove the speedometer drive in the transmission on a 901. Once all the mods were made to the case we sent it out my transmission shop Import Transmission in Portland, Oregon for the gearing and installation of the ZF Limited slip. Dennis wanted a close ratio, and also a taller 1st gear.
We set this car up for short wheelbase 911 rear suspension. The only problem with using these is that is increases the track of the rear and it requires you to mar the back of the car wider. I decided that I wanted to leave the stock track so this meant we had to narrow up the trailing arms. We built a jig and moved the bearing housing of the trailing arms in 2 inches. While doing this we also were able to set them up for the brakes that we are using on the car. The rear sway bar is a 19 mm 911 rear bar. On the front suspension we used 2 ½ inch dropped spindles and a 22 mm Weltmeister front sway bar. Since dropped spindles don’t allow for the stock 356 speedometer cable, and we already removed the speedometer drive from the 901 transmission, we had to have Kevin at North Hollywood Speedometer build us one. He built an electronic pick up and a gauge that looks exactly like the 356 gauge but with 911SC electronics inside.
I wanted the “Emory Special” to have the drum brake look but with disc brakes. This enabled us to use the RS 60 Annular brakes that Dario Calandra, Buddy Cone and myself have been developing and reproducing for the past 3 years. With the large bolt pattern I had wheels built for the car that are 16 x 5 ½ billet, with the look of an early Pre-A wheel. I did the wheels in a satin, brushed finish and then put a satin clear over them to keep them from staining from brake dust. The tire size we used was 195/60/16.
We wanted the interior to be simple and elegant so we choose to use a Dark Green Leather and Green Carpet. I ordered a set of seats from Russ at Fibersteel, the Carpet and interior came from Tony at Autobahn, and my interior installer Tom Finley did the installation and upholstered the seats. On the seats we did black corduroy inserts. The 911 R steering wheel in black is just what the interior needed.
The roll bar is non removable with side bars and is painted gloss black. Since we used a later transmission in the car this meant we had to change the shifter. We used a C shifter base, installed a Willhoit short shift lever in it, and finished it off with an Emory Outlaw Eagle shift knob.
The Finished Product
This was a fun project to do. We finished it off with some details that brought it all together. A special 2500 emblem on the back, Emory Special emblems on the side, a set of bumper mounted fog lights, a fuel cell with a La Mans style through the hood flip top filler, GT side mirrors, and a Spyder license light.
When I build an Emory Special I like to get to know the owner and build a car just for them. I like to think of it like a fine tailored suit, built especially for them.