We hit up the VW Treffen car show in California and find hidden treasure parked outside.
Words by Paul Kramer & Tony Matthews
Photography by Tony & Carmen Matthews
Going to car shows can bring some unexpected project finds and when we visited the VW Treffen car show in Anaheim California, we came across this incredible green Porsche 911. We didn’t have the opportunity to speak with the owner at the time, so we left a business card on the window and then started to search on instagram, to find out who owned it.
Eventually we found the driver, his name is Paul Kramer and owner of AutoKennel. He specialises in acquiring classic cars and find them a good home. When we met Paul, he kindly gave us a tour of his garage and what cars he had for sale at the time. Man, the classics he had were amazing to see in the metal, from classics Porsches, VW Beetles to retro a BMW 2002.
So what’s the story behind the man driving this 911 and more importantly, how did he get the keys to own it? We’ll let Paul tell us in his own words,
Like many other life-long automotive enthusiasts (aka car guys/gals), I grew up in the garage watching my dad just tinker on his cars. We attended the LA Auto Show like a religion every year. Eventually, my career path went a different direction, but my spare time was spent obsessing about cars. Eventually, the racing bug bit me and I fueled the habit by selling cars I would find to help pay for racing costs.
At one point, I had over a dozen cars covered outside my house that were either mine or for sale. My dad suggested that we find a shop to store the cars and get proper insurance, etc. Eventually, our storage concept turned into becoming a licensed dealer. You see, my friends who were storing cars would never use them and would just tell me to, “make it go away.” At this point, I wouldn’t say it “clicked” yet, but I did realize shortly thereafter that I was just selling on consignment.
Not having a traditional car dealer background, I looked at the business from a different perspective. I wanted to be small where I could invest my energies in just a few cars. My dad, who was retired, came on to help me a couple days a week. He takes care of some of the admin stuff as well as the website. For the past 15-years, we have sold over 900 cars on consignment. There was a simple formula. I had to know either the car, the owner, and/or the mechanic that worked on them.
I had to have some connection to the car. As a buyer for vintage cars, I always got frustrated by listings I read. No one seemed to really convey what the car was “really” about. So, my focus was to delivery to my buyers a well-vetted car that I didn’t own. I didn’t “have” to sell it. I wanted to truly be a neutral party between the buyer and seller. I also wanted to give seller’s an avenue to properly market their classic without all the normal risks and without getting taken advantage of.
So far the formula worked. It’s worked really well. My dad and I DO sweat all the details. I want so badly for my clients (both buyers and sellers) to be happy and will invest all my energies to achieve that. As a result, I feel we have built a strong reputation in our little part of the world.
As I mentioned when you were visiting, our personal collection has grown simply because I’ve kept a few of our consignment offerings for ourselves. When we get a car on consignment, I spend a week “nesting” with the car. I perform several test drives, detail it, take in for mechanical inspection/repairs, etc. During this time, every once in a while, a particular vintage car just “captures” my heart. It’s hard to describe, but the soul of the car just speaks to me. Hence, our personal collection has grown to currently nearly a dozen cars.
In particular regarding this green 911, which has been affectionately named by some of our friends “La Tortuga,” came to us from a long time car-friend back in March of 2014. It looked like more of a traditional green RS clone with Fuch wheels, etc. The interior was somewhat unimaginative. I first saw the car, when our friend drove it to our annual open house during the big SoCal Porsche Literature Show/Swap Meet weekend. It just so happened that it absolutely poured rain during our open house.
It was seriously monsoon conditions. As you can imagine, the usual crowd of vintage cars that would park in our courtyard were replaced by everyone’s dull daily drivers. However, my buddy drove this green 911 in the pouring rain and parked it in front of our showroom doors under our mesh canopy. I was sitting at my desk and watching the water just stream like Niagara falls right on top of the car. I half jokingly told my friend, “hey…I can actually hear the car rusting from here.” He laughed and told me, don’t worry, it’s an ’86 Carrera.
I was floored…no way. I’ve seen plenty of backdate hotrod 911s in my day and this one just looked like the real deal early patina 911. Anyway, he was actually bringing it to me to sell on consignment. That whole day, I was obsessed with that car. I can’t really say why, but it just looked right and I knew it would be a great car to not only make my own, but also use on vintage rallies.
You see, me and my dad (and sometimes my wife) embark on over 10k-miles of vintage “fun” rallies with like-minded folks each year. We’ve traveled to Texas, Oregon, Mexico and everywhere in-between. This car would be perfect. It would be reasonably fast, reliable, comfortable, and I could make it the way I wanted it. So, I struck a deal with my friend to just buy it from him. When he dropped it off, it came with a huge stack of receipts going back to nearly new.
Apparently, it had an owner who owned it for most of its life and sometime back in the 90’s decided to make it look like an RS clone. To perform a backdate in the 90’s was totally unheard of. In fact, most people probably thought the owner was nuts. It would have been cheaper to just buy an early 911 S. However, this owner must have really loved the car. So, he took what was your basic red/black 1986 911 Carrera sunroof coupe and did a backdate using a 1965 911…total sacrilege.
Yet, the results were pretty amazing. Everything fits really well. The car is just a funky mixture of many years of Porsche 911s. It totally confuses even the most savvy Porschefiles. I love watching them debate with each other on what year the car is. Whenever we stop at a gas station and someone asks us what year the car is, I just throw out any year and it seems to suffice them…it’s pretty funny. Once we got the car, we went through it to not only give it the look we wanted, but also to make sure it was mechanically ready for what we were planning on using it for.
I have always been inspired by European enthusiasts back in the day who had one car that had to do everything from go to work, take on vacation, or even participate in the occasional sporting event. So, after looking at countless vintage pics, I gave the car a look of someone who was an out doorsman and would use the car for winter sports like skiing and snow hill climb events. With the help of swap meets, online auctions, friends, etc. we acquired all kinds of bits to complete the roof rack and exterior look. We even had an artist paint our company logo on the doors and make it worn out so that it looked like it has been there for decades. We also backdated the interior with a less of a race look but a mild sport-purpose vibe. Custom sport seats with green and creme checker pattern was a good fit. We also installed my dad’s old Nardi wood wheel from the 70’s that used to grace his Mercedes Diesel. My dad, who is a part time and very talented wood-maker, custom fit spalted maple dash veneer.
Next, I was on a pursuit to make everything on the car work. From the ice-cold blowing air-condition system to the cruise control. Everything works like new. This really makes the car wonderful on 1,000-mile journeys. Yet, still quite capable in the twisty bits.
People ask us a lot about the wheels. They are probably a significant performance drop from the Fuchs that used to be installed, but the steel wheels just look right and have always been a favorite of mine as I think they look amazing on 904 and 906 Porsches. We took space saver spare wheels from 80’s 911s and had them custom made to 15×7 and 15×8 wheels.
Fast forward 3-years later, and our Tortuga has been all over the Western U.S. and has traveled nearly 40,000-miles since we purchased it. We service it constantly. We estimate the total miles on the car is around 300,000 and we haven’t seen any signs of major engine work besides new valve guides/rings back in the early 90’s. However, it still doesn’t drip a drop of oil.