1953 Fish silver grey 1500 Super coupe

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James Davies
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1953 Fish silver grey 1500 Super coupe

#1 Post by James Davies » Thu Nov 13, 2014 1:58 pm

This past year I've started research and parts acquisition for restoration of 50960, a 1953 1500 Super that's been in my father's shed for 35 years. I'm hoping to share and learn as much as I can in this thread over the next several years as I try to get this car restored and back on the road.

The car is pretty complete but disassembled by my father in the 1980s. It has never been restored, though it has had some spot rust repair done on the lower extremities back in the 1970s. It still has most of its original upholstery (lousy shape) and some of its original paint in several places.

The specs of this car:

1953 Porsche 356/10 1500 Super coupe
Chassis 50960
Finished July 27, 1953
Fish silver grey exterior color, R505 CS
Mushroom grey corduroy upholstery trimmed in leather (seat sides and backs)
Dark blue wool square weave carpet, light grey brushed twill headliner
USA 'de Luxe' model, Hoffman, which is 1953 model year shorthand for the following:
  • Type 528 engine (originally P-40513 which is no longer with the car)
  • SWF windshield washer setup
  • Turbo rings
  • Leather trim on the upholstery
  • radio, a Blaupunkt A51EM for this car, not common
  • Hirschmann antenna
Transmission number 1781, Type 519 (smooth-case, full-synchro)

I don't know the history of the car. It ended up in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in the early 1970s. It no longer had its type 528 1500 Super engine at that point, probably thanks to the Hirth jump rope crankshaft vibrating the case until it cracked or punched a rod through the side. Two out of three 528 engines in '53 failed catastrophically. Perhaps engine failure was what kept it off the road and preserved it.

It may have been weekend raced in the 1950s given corner markings on the original 16-inch wheels. It was certainly rolled at one point, as some dings and creases in the roof and C pillar indicate. The nose was damaged in an accident (perhaps the same roll), and the front nose was replaced, poorly. While the body men used lead to fill in, they lap welded the nose on. The nose on it right now is from a '54 or '55 car. Paint archaeology indicates this happened very early in its life. The inner front nose and nose itself is pretty ugly from the accident, and the battery box needs serious work. I hope to salvage the nose, but it will have to come off to repair the inner parts.

It has rust in the usual places, but not bad for a car suffering through Wisconsin winters and salty roads. Longitudinals and sills need work, as do the front closing panels and the lip around the floors, but the floors themselves are quite solid. From the B pillar back, the car is in really nice shape.

My father, brother and I will do as much of the work as we can ourselves, and farm out to experts whatever we can't do. Should be a fun father/son project. My dad passed this car on to me 15 years ago. Wish I had started getting it together back in the late 90s, but better now than never. We hope to get it back to original condition by doing a careful, sympathetic restoration over the next ~5 years with an eye towards authenticity and preserving as many original parts and patina as we can.

More photos to come.
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Last edited by James Davies on Sun Dec 07, 2014 2:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Roy Smalley
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Re: 1953 Fish silver grey 1500 Super coupe

#2 Post by Roy Smalley » Thu Nov 13, 2014 5:51 pm

Get a scan of the original paint, spray out a panel and check before the original is gone. Ditto on the 'mushroom' interior and other panels.
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Re: 1953 Fish silver grey 1500 Super coupe

#3 Post by Tony Proasi » Fri Nov 14, 2014 8:29 am

Good luck Pre A's are just such cool cars!

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Adam Wright
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Re: 1953 Fish silver grey 1500 Super coupe

#4 Post by Adam Wright » Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:42 am

James, if you need any reference shots, we have an early 53 in the shop right now, it will probably be gone in the Spring, but lots of welding this winter.
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Greg Bryan
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Re: 1953 Fish silver grey 1500 Super coupe

#5 Post by Greg Bryan » Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:48 am

James - great car! My appreciation for the Pre A has been growing steadily - should be a fun project.
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James Davies
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Re: 1953 Fish silver grey 1500 Super coupe

#6 Post by James Davies » Fri Nov 14, 2014 1:27 pm

Thanks for the tips Roy. Paint and upholstery matching is the first thing I'm doing. I have hidden areas of the fish silver grey under the Reutter tag on the hinge cover and on the defroster tube where the steering column and washer pump were mounted. As you can see, it is a fairly neutral silver with a very fine metallic flake in it. Nitrocellulose lacquer of course. I also plan on never removing the original paint from these areas, as they will be a reference for the future too. I will mask them when doing the stripping and repainting of the rest of the car.
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Original fish silver grey paint protected under the Reutter chassis tag.
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Original paint on defroster tube and hinges.
And I have small swatches of fabric and leather and headliner from folded over areas that I've been using to try to get some matches as well. But it is very difficult to match fabric - weight, wale, color. Hefra in NL has very nice upholstery corduroy that is the right weight and wale. Not the right color though. I'm thinking about vat dying to match, and if I go that route, perhaps I can recolor the existing fabric in many places, which is in very good condition physically, but discolored due to sun and a previous owner who dyed the interior black. I will do some tests.
upholstery.jpg
Original corduroy and leather
headliner_brushed.jpg
Original headliner, brushed twill. Cotton perhaps?
headliner_back.jpg
Original headliner, back. It's a twill.
Carpet is the easiest. The Dark Blue from our vendors is a perfect match.
carpet.jpg
Original carpet on the left, replacement #318 Dark Blue on the right.
And thanks for the offer Adam. I should come up to your shop and visit one of these weeks and have a look. Photos would be very useful.
Last edited by James Davies on Fri Feb 20, 2015 1:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1953 Fish silver grey 1500 Super coupe

#7 Post by Trevor Gates » Fri Nov 14, 2014 4:54 pm

Sweet project. Are you going to do the welding yourself?
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James Davies
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Re: 1953 Fish silver grey 1500 Super coupe

#8 Post by James Davies » Fri Nov 14, 2014 5:42 pm

Hi Trevor, yes we intend do the welding and bodywork ourselves. My father used to be a metal fabricator for a living (in addition to a Porsche mechanic), and my brother has restored a pretty rusty '66 911, so we expect we can handle it. We're hoping to preserve as much of the original metal as possible and just patch where needed. The nose will be the biggest challenge. I'll post some photos of that.

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Rear

#9 Post by James Davies » Fri Nov 14, 2014 6:12 pm

Here's some photos of the rear of the car. A couple things to note:

- There is no engine bay padding, just very thick undercoating (schutz) for both anti-rust and sound deadening. According to Jung, this was 20 kg of Tersol (pg 258 Reutter book).

- Wiring harness is still in the car. It will need heavy repair or replacement. The wire in these early harnesses is fabric-covered and much more brittle than the plastic-covered wire used in 1954. There are multiple areas where the insulation is compromised.

- No mounting for voltage regulator on the firewall. The regulator is mounted on top of the generator at this point in 1953.

- 7 holes for the PORSCHE script. These are the early riveted aluminum scripts.

- The leaded edges of the trunk area stand out from the light surface rust on the steel.

- The rear clip has raised area at the center for the exhaust pipes. Reutter started putting the raised area in sometime in late '53. It may have even been as early as August '53 they started this. The raised central rear bodywork allowed them to use exhaust pipes that go straight out from the muffler. Mine used twin exhaust pipes that bent down and had flattened, ovalized pipes.
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Last edited by James Davies on Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1953 Fish silver grey 1500 Super coupe

#10 Post by Spencer Harris » Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:57 pm

Great stuff, James. Nice to finally see more comprehensive photos of the FSG Coupe! Looks like you've got lots of straight body panels to work with - unlike #60238 which looked to have had body work done by an irate girlfriend with a ballpeen hammer.

Interesting note about the PO who dyed the interior black. When I bought my '55 coupe back in 1972 a PO had dyed the headliner red - presumably to match the wine red leatherette. Must have been a fashionable upgrade in the 50's.

My Cab has the exhaust cutout section Mfg. date 08/17/53, 1300N Euro delivery and your without the cutout is 07/27/53, 1500S USA delivery. That's narrowing the change down to a few weeks, but it may have been changed at different times for Euro vs. US cars. New rear panel from Trevor showing details of the cutout fabrication.
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James Davies
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Re: 1953 Fish silver grey 1500 Super coupe

#11 Post by James Davies » Sat Nov 15, 2014 1:24 am

That's interesting Spencer! The switch from straight rear valence to the cutout could have occurred then. I can't imagine there would be a difference between US and Euro cars. They were all produced on the same lines. Maybe a difference between coupe and cab, as the rear valence sections of the coupe and cab are different stampings.

I wonder if anyone else with '53 coupes or cabs can weigh in. Anyone have a an Aug '53 or later car that has a straight rear valence that is original?

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Front

#12 Post by James Davies » Mon Nov 17, 2014 11:54 am

The front of the car is in lousy shape. It was involved in an accident at some point, probably during the 1950s, and repaired hastily with a new nose from '54 or '55 car lap welded on with a lot of lead filler. The damage to the battery box and inner nose and luggage compartment structure was not repaired properly, so this is probably the biggest challenge of the bodywork.
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Mark Strikwerda
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Re: 1953 Fish silver grey 1500 Super coupe

#13 Post by Mark Strikwerda » Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:03 pm

Hey James, nice to see some additional pictures of your car. I really enjoyed all the detail. This is invaluable to us all that have pre-a cars....Very cool....Here is a picture of 50093 the never ending project.....Mark....
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Re: 1953 Fish silver grey 1500 Super coupe

#14 Post by James Davies » Wed Nov 19, 2014 12:32 pm

Your car is looking good Mark! Adria blue is such a gorgeous color. I love all those early porsche nitrolack metallics - fish silver, adria blue and radium green.

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Re: 1953 Fish silver grey 1500 Super coupe

#15 Post by Mark Strikwerda » Wed Nov 19, 2014 1:06 pm

James, I am sure you read in the latest registry about the 53 coupe that was featured. How lucky was he to find an unmarked case. I am hoping you can find one of those. I am constantly looking for you. That article had me spell bound, boy that car is awesome. We are headed to Palm Springs this weekend for the Pines to Palms local get together, should be fun seeing the cars and meeting some folks....So grateful for the nice weather when much of the nation is getting hit hard....Glad your making progress on your car, keep us posted....Mark....
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