TEMPLE TERRACE, FL., February 15, 2016 – By day, Gerry Curts is a partner in an architectural company designing luxury high-rise condo and hotel buildings, assisted living facilities, historical renovations, and resorts.
By night Curts is still using his imagination and creativity, drawing up plans, considering the shapes and sizes of vintage cars.
The semi-retired enthusiast has had his mind and heart into the old classics ever since he can remember. He’s now working on a 1962 Porsche 356 which is currently up in North Carolina getting its final touches. Just before he hit the road to drive up there and check on the progress, Curts spent a few minutes talking about his love for yesteryear’s automobiles, and how the restoration process all come together.
Sheryl Kay: So tell us a little about how, and when, you got into vintage cars?
Gerry Curts: As a young teenage high schooler in Memphis I became interested in cars, particularly sporty cars. My first car was a 1957 VW convertible. During college I went through two Studebakers, and a Sunbeam Alpine like Elisabeth Taylor’s in “Butterfield 8”. It was in college that I started competing in Road Rallies and Time Trials with the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America).
I had a roommate who restored a 1952 Jaguar 120 in our dorm room. This seemed quite normal to me at the time.
Later as a young adult I started racing cars in both the US and Europe. I raced an Alfa Romero, a Shelby Mustang, a Austin Mini Cooper, a Lotus, and several Porsches.
SK: When did you start to restore them?
GC: The first was a 1959 Alfa Romeo 1300 Giulietta Sprint Coupe, done in 1969. Then in 1974 I restored a 1967 Louts Elan SE, and then a 1973 Porsche 911 S in 1984. All of these were unusual and significant cars although none were particularly valuable at the time. I really wish I still owned any of them. The current project is a 1962 Porsche 356B Super 90 sunroof coupe.
SK: Tell us a little about this Porsche and what it’s been like restoring it.
GC: This little Porsche was advertised in a regional auto ad listing news magazine where normally we see cars like this advertised in Porsche or other similar enthusiast magazines. I purchased it because it appeared to be a nice little car in decent shape that would be fun to drive and attend club events.
When we started to research the car’s history, which is an anal retentive thing Porsche people do, we realized that this is, in fact, a special car. It was delivered to an American dentist from Waianae, Hawaii, in Paris, in February of 1962. It was delivered with 22 factory options listed in the factory build sheet. We believe that this may be the most heavily optioned car coming out of the Porsche factory in model year 1962.
In addition, one of the options was the color. The dentist actually sent his own paint to the factory because his wife chose a color that matched the color of a lagoon near their home in Hawaii–a beautiful light aqua blue.
The most difficult task was finding many of the 22 options that were long ago removed from the car and lost. Finding correct and original replacement items seemed impossible. I found the tiny fire extinguisher in a museum in Germany. The Italian air horns came from Belgium. The radio was especially challenging because it is a radio usually found in Mercedes, not Porsches. This one came from Germany, did not work and was incomplete.
To do a correct restoration you must use original items. This includes everything from the nuts and bolts to main components like the engine. Many items are simply not available or are reproductions which may work OK for a fun project, but are not acceptable for a serious restoration. So I have had to restore many individual pieces like the sun visors, metal trim. grill work, and the air horns. It’s a long list.
SK: How much did it cost when you bought it, and with all the work you’ve put into it, what do you think it will be worth when you’re done? Will you sell it?
GC: I paid $55,000 for my car. Similar cars usually sell between $40,000 and $80,000, based on the condition and originality. Once restored it could easily be worth three to four times my purchase price. And no, I do not intend to sell this car anytime in the foreseeable future.
SK: Clearly it’s a pretty valuable car. Will you drive it around town?
GC: Only selectively to Porsche events. It will also be shown at national shows many of which are in the northeast, or on the west coast. In that case the car will be trailered to these distant events.
SK: How about competitions?
GC: This car will definitely be entered in Concours ‘de Elegance competitions and shown at local car club events. I have been active in Concours events on both a local and national basis for many years and have had some success in winning the national. The judging criteria vary somewhat between different events, but generally they’re looking for authenticity, preparation, and completeness. The Concours community is now seeing more emphasis on preserved cars. These are cars that have never been restored and exist today as authentic and original examples.
With these car judging criteria weighs more toward accepting imperfections in the condition category with emphasis on patina that comes with age. Don’t we all get a few more wrinkles as we age gracefully?
SK: So what’s next Gerry? Have you got your eyes on something already?
GC: After this project, I have no plans for what is next. Perhaps my wife may have some suggestions. Imagine that!
SK: Any advice can you give to a newbie who’s looking to get into vintage car restoration?
GC: Get involved in a car club of your choice. Almost every marquee has a club full of enthusiasts who are happy to welcome new interested members and give advice and encouragement.
Car enthusiasts who want to connect with Curts can reach him at [email protected]