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PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2011 3:54 pm 
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Bumping this back up the list hoping to get another reply or two on black knob cars.

I should be able to post a chart showing the results of info received to date, perhaps as early as next week. Still trying to track down one owner who is not answering the phone.

Dan Haden

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:54 pm 
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105xxx, COA Ocober, 1958, ownwed since 1972, all black knobs (not painted)/cream steering wheel/originally Orange 5711 with black interior.

Walt Nolte
59 A Coupe

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:08 pm 
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I have compiled the information we have received about black knob A cars into a chart to help me to analyze the data and hopefully come up with some conclusions. I thought that to avoid mixing facts with conjectures I would in this post first include the information I received and then in another post I will give some analysis and brainstorming as to what it might mean.

There are some photos from the earlier topic and that were sent to my email that I will include here for the record.
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To help in sorting out what paint colors are unusual I made this chart showing the standard and special colors of the A cars and the B cars.
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Color Chart.png
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Finally, here is the chart containing all of the information I got from car owners for those cars with black knobs and steering wheels.
Attachment:
Black Knob Cars.png
Black Knob Cars.png [ 66.07 KiB | Viewed 824 times ]


Dr. Bill Block, the keeper of the official Registry database, was kind enough to do some research for me by widening the search a bit. I asked him to look at all cars in the database from chassis 107960 to chassis 108000 and he found there were 8 cars, 4 of which are the black knob cars in that sequence. The eight cars represent 20% of the 40 cars in that range, which is not a very large sampling, but it is interesting to note that none of the other reported cars has an unusual paint color. I also asked Bill to check chassis numbers around 108621 to see if they were Ruby Red. His report came back that from this car forward 25 numbers all in the range were Ruby Red. This confirms to me that 108621 was painted in a normal run of Ruby Red cars, which might explain why its chassis number is so far away from the other reported black knob cars. Note that while the chassis number of this car is almost 700 away from the others, its shipping date is only 11 days after the others.

I believe that the fact that four cars have reasonable provenance for black knobs and steering wheels and are within 15 chassis numbers of one another is beyond coincidence and that these cars came from the factory with black knobs and steering wheels. I believe that car 108621 also came with these features and shows that cars with standard colors were chosen to have the black knobs and steering wheels as well as the cars with the unusual colors.

It would have been nice to have data showing that chassis 107974 was painted in a run of Meissen Blue cars, but we do not. This color is not supported by a paint code on a COA or data plate; it comes from an examination of a rough and weathered body shell. I do believe that this is an authentic black knob car based on its chassis number being so close to the tight grouping. It would be interesting to see the COA or Kardex of this car to answer some of the color questions.

Chassis 107031 is owned by a longtime 356 person, who is convinced of its originality. I have not done further research on it being in a run of Ivory cars, but it could be so far out of sequence if the nearest Ivory paint run was that many cars away.

In the next post I will go quite a bit farther afield in theorizing on what the purpose of these cars was and how many of them might have been built.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 3:20 pm 
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Here I will take the information and conclusions I made above and expand on them to come up with different theories on what it all means. I was reminded just this morning by a 356 friend that while today we try to find logical theories to explain what or why the factory did things back 50 years ago, they were not always doing things logically or the way we think they should have. An example would be these black knob cars. If what they were doing was building A cars in color combinations to see what B cars might look like, we would expect them to do a run of all standard colors to be continued, all new special colors, and any other colors that might be considered to be included in either category. Further, it would make sense for these cars to be in a strict consecutive sequence of chassis numbers and move in a group through the assembly line. In fact, what actually took place was surely much different. Since all of the unusual work on these cars took place in the Reutter factory there were probably different priorities. First, it would not make sense to do a one off painting of a car in an already standard color. It would make more sense to just take a standard color body from a regular paint run and put the unusual features in it. Therefore, the chassis number of the car would be associated with the paint color, not the special run of cars. Logically, they should have made one of each color or two of each color, maybe to test different upholstery colors. More likely there were some cars made singly in a color while others were done twice or maybe even more. All of this means that we will never know what really happened or why, but it is amusing to guess. If ever we could get a look at the full Kardex file we could make a lot better guesses, but that may never happen. It is interesting to me that the factory did not think black knobs and steering wheels to be unusual enough to note on the Kardex, but that omission has allowed us to dig into this interesting run of cars and to speculate about them.

If the factory put black knobs in one of every standard color to be carried over (5 colors), standard colors to be discontinued (2 colors), new standard colors (3 colors), and special colors old and new (7 colors), they would have made 17 of these cars. But we see that there were two Fern Green cars made which was not a standard or special color for either the A cars or the B cars. This anomaly opens up a whole raft of other possibilities - any number of extra special colors and two or more of any of the above colors. So it is impossible to even estimate the total number of black knob cars made. Would there have been a reason to make cars in some of these colors and not in others? Did they want to see every color with black accessories or could they see most of them and imagine some? Again, we will never know. Even with access to the full Kardex file, because black knobs were not noted we could never guess which standard and special color cars had them.

Another way to come at overall numbers is to consider how many cars were reported in this informal survey. First, I must conclude without further information that the 108177 car and the 105xxx car were most likely not delivered from the factory with black knobs and steering wheels. That means that our survey turned up 6 probably authentic cars. If we assume that we heard from half of the known existing authentic cars that would mean there are 12 cars now existing. If we assume that half of the cars made no longer exist, that means there were about 24 such cars. The fact that the Registry database only shows a survival rate of 20% known cars in this range of chassis numbers might make us lower our total to, say, 20 cars.

So, to summarize, if they made one of each color there would be 17 cars, but we know they made more including extra special colors and more than one of some. If they made two of each and two of three extra special colors that would add up to 40 cars. That might be the outside high number of possible cars. Applying the non-rational rule discussed above I think we could reduce that number by 10 making the outside high number 30. (If someone out there is a statistician, I hope you will chime in here.) And employing a pure guess, I would say the low limit number is something like 15 cars, making the guess range 15 to 30 cars. The fact that we have 6 known cars and with the other reasons why we don't have more, I would think the total number made is closer to the high limit guess.

I would be interested to hear what others think the data show. Here's a chance to float a theory that no one will be able to shoot down and one person's guess is as good as another's.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 7:53 pm 
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Dan
This is really interesting stuff, particularly for A owners !
I still wonder where all these "special" cars were destined for?
Where they all ordered by one dealer?
I know here (Down Under) the colours were specified by the dealer.
Maybe this was a customer request, as it often was, but also seems
to be what the dealer thought might look attractive, and therefore sell.
I have no way of knowing whether the selection came from a list of
what was available from the coming assembly line, or whether it was
entirely open to choice.
But this could have been a dealer request, and not random testing by the
factory. Or it could have been both. Or neither.
I guess we will one day come to a conclusion.
But can we find out where these cars were sold from?

Keep up the great work !

Regards
Greg

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:46 pm 
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Greg -

I do know where a few of the cars were delivered. My car, 107983, and the 107986 car were both delivered to Hoffman in NYC. The 108621 car was delivered to Kahrmann, Fulda.

If I am correct that these cars were made by the factory in order to be able to see various color combinations of the new B series cars, then I doubt that any was the result of a specific order by a distributor or dealer. The factory would have made them and probably contacted their major distributors, such as Max Hoffman, saying that these cars would be part of the next shipment. Dealers and distributors probably never knew about Condor Yellow, Fern Green or black knobs and steering wheels until the car rolled off the trailer into their lot. Remember that the US delivery cars had different bumpers in 1959, and those would already be on the car as it left Reutter, so I wouldn't be surprised if all of the US black knob cars went to Hoffman, who then mixed them in with the normal color cars going to dealers.

Dan Haden

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:20 pm 
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Dan,

I'm wondering about "Paint Runs", i.e. painting a bunch of cars in sequence the same color. I don't know the answer to whether they did paint cars in runs or not, but the attached picture suggests that they may not have done it this way. Note, these pictures are of later T-6 B's. It would be interesting to see if Bill Block can come up with sequences of serial numbers of cars painted the same color. See more:

http://derwhites356literature.com/356BT ... yLine.html

CW


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:52 pm 
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Charlie, in Made By Hand I think there a parts of the film that seem to indicate cars were painted in "runs" of the same color and it seems logical that Reutter would have done so.

Note that cars could get mixed up and out of order on the assembly line.

Drauz definitely painted cars in runs. Go to the Convertible D website and view the listings and you will see.

Best regards,

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 3:32 pm 
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Charlie and Barry -

I had never thought about this subject until I looked at the Convertible D registry where, as Barry points out, it is very clear that those cars were painted in color runs. It makes sense that painting a run of cars in one color would minimize all the cleaning of equipment between color changes. The segment of the database that Bill Block sent to me shows pretty clearly that there was a run of Ruby Red chassis numbers around no. 108621 even though there are more gaps in that sequence than John Chatley has in his Conv D listings. I agree with Barry that once the cars got to the Porsche assembly line they could have been mixed up quite a bit from chassis no. sequence.

Dan Haden

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:36 pm 
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Point taken on what the Convertible D Registery shows, although there are gaps in the chassis numbers, and it does make sense that cars were painted in color batches. But it sure doesn't look that way from the pictures.

CW

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:54 pm 
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Charlie, the gaps are cars that are not in the D Registry. The photos show the last known image of the car, and of course many cars have been repainted non-original colors over the years. The column showing the original paint color name is based on COA info if available and that clearly shows the cars were painted in "runs". Steve Heinrich's Speedster book shows the same thing.

Best regards,

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:09 pm 
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Following this thread, is it that the blacked knobbed cars are in the last of the A T-2 model run before the B T-5 were introduced or are there ivory knobbed cars at the end of the run mixed in WITH the black knobbed cars?
And as for the paint colors, laquer is easy to paint with and you could have more that one color in a day sprayed in the booth, not like the two stage paints today, laquer has a very long potlife, I keep some in an old gun for guide coats.
This has been a great thread!

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:51 am 
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In checking the numbers and paint codes in the back of Steve Heinrick's book, Speedster Typ 540, it sure looks like the cars were painted in 'runs'. KTF

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:14 am 
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Paul -

Based on the chassis numbers and shipping dates of the black knob cars we know about it is my belief that the factory continued to turn out 356A cars with the normal ivory, tan and grey knobs right up to the last. I believe that the black knob cars were only used very sparingly in order to test the look of the black accessories with certain paint colors that were being considered for the 356B cars. According to the numbers we have been able to come up with it seems that only a very few of the last 1000 356A cars made had black knobs.

Thanks for your interest and your kind words.

Dan Haden

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:52 pm 
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Cars were, logically, painted in "runs." Interestingly, given there were two standard upholstery colors to each paint color - these were alternated; perhaps to help eliminate removable panel mix-ups (apparently "matching numbers" was not a perfect solution. However, the best proof of batches was a reprint from Brett Johnson listing the days of the month each color would be painted.

bill

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