356 Bonneville Build

June 27, 2012

The Bonneville project is on indefinite hold, so I thought I would run a cool old photo of how it was, back in the day. You can also find a cool 356 Bonneville post that I put on the blog a while back by clicking here.

February 13, 2012

An update from Graham. The project is on hold at this time with planning continuing.

December 24, 2011

Here's an update from Graham ... We have been working some recent sketches that DT, Sacco and I have been working up on the car... they are very much influenced by the conversation and discussions we had with Michael Behr of Porsche Motorsport in Dubai a few weeks ago ... it was Michael's idea to go twin NACA ducts in the roof to get the air we need for the turbos and now we are pursuing this idea, we are also looking to work out how to get the air down into the cooling fan too ... we have a little more work to do on aero and the remaining question is still - where does the weight balance go when we invert the engine and gearbox - remember the engine is big and light and the gearbox is small and heavy and we are being advised to check this out in minute detail before we make the switch from one configuration to another ... we have data from Denny who set and holds the 911 LSR that suggests too much weight in the rear will make the car too light at about 180mph and we need to be sure the overall aero is balanced or balanceable before we switch the engine configuration. Our 993 engine and gearbox (the non-turbo nonVR) should be back together on the bench in a week or so and before we bolt this combo back into the 964 shell we have we will balance the engine/gearbox and work out the centre of balance of it too ... this is most crucial before we do any work on the A ... we then also have to make sure the engine rotation and pulley positions make space for the driver and a SCTA regulation firewall ... lots of little things still to be done before we ask Kent to start cutting one of about only 50 RHD 356A's known in existence . . .

October 1, 2011

Communication between Graham and Denny Kahler...

Good to hear back from you. I built my Bonneville car in the mid 80's. It set numerous records between 1998 and 1991. The '91 record was at 200.615 mph with a 3.0 engine and that record still stands today. We spent the next 10 years trying to break that record. The car was a total hand full over 180 mph and I had spun it at over 200 a number of times. In retrospect it is hard to get a car shaped like a jelly bean, pushed from the behind with a short wheel base to go those speeds. The surface of the salt is like hard packed snow with ruts and puddles. Over those years we tried various wings and ground effect items. In 2001 I decided to go for it. We regeared for 250 plus and installed a nitoius system. I had lost my fear of the spin and hoped to hang on and get big numbers. We also added a few aerodynamic aids in hopes of keeping it stright. To make a long story short during the 2001 event I hit a puddle or rut in the forth mile. The car went left and right and trying to correct it lifted the front and went air borne. I may hold the record for maximum hang time in a 911. The car did not land well and I was lucky enough to survive. I even made the cocktail party that night after the trip to the hospital. The car was totally destroyed except for the engine. Even some of the gauges were oval from the impact. All the safety systems SCTA requires paid off. The last recorded time was 229 mph at the four mile lights and I was still gaining speed before it flew. The nitrous bottle was not installed so we were running just turbos and race gas. No fuel, no ntro and no NOX.
I can tell you many Bonneville stories, We made Bonneville a family and friends event for all those years. My three boys enjoyed their years on the salt. Attached is a picture of the car in 1998 trim. In this configuation it set a record in 1991 with a 2 liter at 211.714 mph. I still have the engines and have wanted to build a streamliner to see just how fast a Porsche powered car can go.
Best success with your project,
Denny Kahler

September 2, 2011

Kent's put the car on a bogey and taken the wheels off and started to go over the car and make investigations on the condition of the shell . . . check out the photos - it's not good news and it looks like the roof has been patched from below so we are thinking that at some point the car may have been on it's roof ... this is the current situation and we're still figuring out about the mid-engine configuration.

Image, Kent Porter

Image, Kent Porter

Image, Kent Porter

Image, Kent Porter

July 23, 2011

Graham had sent this letter to Prof. Piech to requesting information on aerodynamics advice. As of yet no response.

July 15, 2011

Graham reports that at the moment the car is at the back of the shop in Arizona. Kent has a few jobs to focus on before he'll get down to the "A". This is sort of a lull before we find out about the true condition of the shell and how some of the very strange shapes and sort of wobbles in the roof and sides of the car really got there.

June 28, 2011

Now that Kent Porter has the 356 at his shop in Arizona here is the first order of business on the car.

Determine the following...

1. Strip the car down completely and determine how severe the damage is to the tub. This will include a complete acid dipping of the entire chassis once the suspension is removed and the body fillers have been sanded/ground away.

2. Measure the chassis from the center line of the wheels forward to a realistic theoretical bulkhead to determine once and for all how much space there is for the powertrain. Once this is determined, we can finally decide on the engine that can be used.

3. Determine the exact suspension configuration that we will be using including brakes.

Image, Kent Porter
Image, Kent Porter

June 25, 2011

HHR's 356 Bonneville Build....The Start

Goal: To set a land speed record for the fastest 356, then be able to return the car to street use.

That's just what Graham Henderson is setting out to accomplish, his dream car. No small undertaking, it now stands at something like 150 mph and that's in a body design that's about 60+ years old. To do this he has enlisted the help of Kent Porter of Precision Chassis Works in Arizona who understands the task well. Part of the plan is to build a tube frame below the body, install a 911 engine, not hanging out over the back, but in a mid-engined configuration, do all the safety mods that are required, like a full roll cage and fire system along with all the small tuning to make the car run like a tiger out of the Malaysian Jungle.

Graham owns a few classic air-cooled Porsches from a 993 down, however he fell in love with Porsche 356A coupes when he was a very young architect working in London, and spotted a little silver torpedo sitting on a local street. He was smitten and decided that one day he was going to own one. Subsequently he found and bought a right hand drive, type A coupe in Malaysia. The car has been in storage for the past 13 years in Kuala Lumpur and just in the last week it arrived at the Port of Los Angeles where it will be trucked to Gilbert, Arizona for the beginning of the project.

The "Along For The Ride" blog will follow this adventure with Team HHR to record the story and show photo updates as the car is rebuilt to make a run at record speeds. A separate page (that can be found along the top header) will provide updates to follow all the way to "The Salt". Be sure to check it out and send your comments and questions here.

The 356 A coupe minus widows and trim as rescued from Malaysia. Image Copyright, HHR

The 356 A coupe minus engine as it sat in Malaysia. Image Copyright, HHR

Extremely rare right hand drive. Image Copyright, HHR

The A coupe after it arrived at the Port of Los Angeles waiting for transport to Arizona. Image Copyright, HHR

HHR's logo. Image Copyright HHR