©2020 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1964 Porsche 356C Outlaw Coupe
Years Produced:1957–present (custom Outlaws)
Number Produced:Unknowable
SCM Valuation:Each car is a custom and stands on its own merits. For this car, it is $154,000.
Tune Up Cost:Depending on engine choice, $2,000–$4,000
Chassis Number Location: Variable depending on base 356 and customization
Engine Number Location:Variable depending on engine choice
Club Info:Porsche Club of America
Alternatives:Corvette resto-mods, American V8-powered 250 Ferraris, similar Austin-Healeys
Investment Grade:C

This car, Lot 135, sold for $154,000, including buyer’s premium, at RM Sotheby’s online-only “Driving into Summer” auction on May 28, 2020.

The origins of today’s Outlaw 356 Porsches were in the post-war Southern California hot-rod movement. First was the concept of modifying cars for better performance and individualizing cars for better appearance. Then it was the people.

The early 356 Outlaw builders had their roots in SoCal hot rods.

We can piece together a history from cars that have been offered for sale in the past five or six years. It is probable that the movement began when Dean Jeffries customized a 1956 356 Carrera coupe in the late 1950s.

Jeffries learned to paint and pinstripe while stationed with the U.S. Army in Germany. Back home, he built a following doing graphics on Indy cars and SoCal hot rods, of which he painted dozens. While working for customizer George Barris, Jeffries famously painted “Little Bastard” and the stylized number “130” on James Dean’s 550 Spyder, but he also painted entire cars, often with wild color schemes and graphics.

Jeffries and the Porsche 356 “Kustom Karrera”

Jeffries liked sports cars and acquired a 356A coupe that he lightly customized. He was offered a trade for a Carrera coupe, serial number 56803, and set about more radically customizing it.

Dubbed “Kustom Karrera,” the car quickly became famous, with articles on it published in several hot-rod magazines. It was a cover car on the October 1959 issue of Rod & Custom. The car is still famous now, having been to the Amelia Island Concours twice and put up for auction a couple of times in the past few years. At Gooding & Company’s 2016 Pebble Beach Auction, it was a no-sale with an indicated high bid of $400,000. It sold at Bonhams’ Quail (Monterey) sale in August 2018 for $437,000. At the time, I opined that the car was the iconic progenitor Outlaw, built on a rare and valuable Carrera, and that it should have brought more — even with a mismatched engine.

Along come the Emorys

Gary Emory was a SoCal kid whose father created cars at Valley Custom Shop in Burbank, CA, starting about 1948. Valley Custom built a number of famous hot rods and a Bonneville tanker streamliner.

Fast-forward to the 1960s, and both father Neil and his son Gary were in the parts department at Chick Iverson’s Newport Beach Porsche dealership. Some years later Gary opened what was originally called “Porsche Parts Obsolete,” now just “Parts Obsolete” (you know about Germany’s dire trademark enforcements), famous for its swapmeets at its early location on Randolph Street in Costa Mesa, CA.

At the time, reportedly inspired by the Jeffries Kustom Karrera, Gary began to modify cars — inventing the Baja Bug and building Outlaw 356s. As every Porschephile knows, Gary’s son Rod is now widely considered to be the foremost builder of 356 Outlaws, both in terms of craftmanship and pricing — whether new or in the aftermarket.

What does the market tell us?

The public market has seen a surprising number of Outlaws in play over the past five years. Here are a few of the more interesting and relevant examples:

1. Gary Emory 1955 356 coupe serial number 54089. Lot 263 at RM Sotheby’s 2015 Scottsdale Auction. The car is probably this writer’s all-time favorite 356 Outlaw. With customized bodywork and many elegant and subtle Emory details, the car was silver over black/tan. In the rear was a Dean Polopolus “Polo” 4-cylinder engine. Dean essentially cut the middle two cylinders out of a 911 engine. He installed a custom case, crank, camshafts, etc., to deliver about 140 horsepower. A 5-speed Type 901 gearbox did the important connection. Boxster disc brakes supplied stopping power. The sale was at $258,500, including buyer’s premium.

2. Gary Emory 1954 356 cabriolet/Speedster. Lot 2116 at Auctions America’s July 2015 Santa Monica, CA, sale. It was a cabriolet built into a Speedster for collector and racer Cam Healey. Finished as a vintage racer or track-day car, it had an uprated 912 engine, a Vic Skirmants Type 741 gearbox and rear Z bar, disc brakes, lots of custom body details — with a subtle full cage — but also with creature comforts such as carpeting. It was finished in slate gray over a red interior. It was bid up to $180,000 and did not sell.

3. 1953 356 coupe. Lot 185 at Auctions America’s 2016 Hilton Head Auction. With an undisclosed builder, the silver car had a 2.8-liter Type 4 (VW) based engine, undoubtedly by FAT Performance, driving a Type 901 5-speed gearbox and rear suspension off an early 911. That all necessitated a five-inch widening of the rear bodywork — which was accomplished so smoothly that it looked almost stock. It had a huge aluminum gas tank, a 1980s Porsche interior including instruments — but in a stock dashboard. It sold for $57,750. I suspect that was less than 25% of the cost to build the car.

4. “1965” 356C coupe/roadster resto-mod. Lot 25 at Worldwide’s Riyadh Auction in Saudi Arabia on November 23, 2019. Built by Ryan Friedlinghaus’ well-regarded West Coast Customs in Burbank, CA, the shortened chassis, dashboard, and running gear were all modern 2.7-liter Porsche Cayman, on top of which a topless, widened 356 coupe body had been mounted. The hood, parking lights and front air grilles were distinctly 356A. The car sold for $550,000, including buyer’s premium.

5. Rod Emory 1959 356A sunroof coupe. A very public, much-watched sale on Bring a Trailer that closed on October 18, 2019. A 2012 build, the car was updated by Rod Emory in 2019 with a Jeff Gamroth (Rothsport Racing of Portland, OR) 4-cylinder, 2.4-liter engine that scales down a 964 engine, driving through a 901 5-speed gearbox, delivering 205 horsepower. Spirited bidding ended when David MacNeil, a well-known collector of Porsches and Ferraris plus a few notable Astons, bought it for $500,000. For reference, brand-new Rod Emory Outlaws run from $375,000 up to over $600,000 for the newest carbon-fiber 356 RSs.

The 356 Outlaw at auction

Our auction car was a 1964 356C reconstructed on a tube frame. The builder was Mike Colucci (of Brumos Racing) with a full 6-cylinder, 2.8-liter 911 engine and a custom KW coil-over suspension. The Albert Blue bodywork and brown custom interior were well executed at known shops. The car’s magic was mechanical, with a body that was not very customized other than the obviously needed widening and some cooling louvers under the rear deck lid.

The result at $154,000, including buyer’s premium, was undoubtedly a lot less than the cost to build the car. Someone got a huge bargain for a hot-rod 356 tour car, assuming the car drives well with the substantial rear-weight bias.

The moral: There are Emory family Outlaws, Ryan Friedlinghaus resto-mods — and then all the others. The disparity is understandable, but real bargains await in the “other” classification — if you can divine excellent build quality from shoddy. ♦

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