Searching for automotive gold during a pandemic can be problematic, even for Barn Find Hunter Tom Cotter. So he’s getting by with a little help from his friends.
In episode 96, Tom visits Tim Herman in Hickory, North Carolina, a city that’s famous for two things: furniture and Porsches. Seriously. As Herman explains, Hickory is so Porsche-crazy that at one time all six Porsche 959s in North America were located right here, 56 miles northwest of Charlotte.
Herman, 72, has been restoring high-end Porsches for nearly 50 years, so he has plenty of Porsche barn-find stories. And although we’re here to focus on a machine that resulted in not one but two rare 1955 Porsche 356 Continentals, Tom has to get a lay of the land first. So he starts by showing us a clean SC engine and then mentions that Herman is looking to hire two experienced body guys, or he’ll never finish all of the cars on his list. (You can inquire at carerramotorsport.com.)
The first car we see is a stunning blue-over-red 356 (Pre-A) that was once part of Herman’s collection but is now headed elsewhere. Then we step into another room and check out the progress of a 1952 356 body, which is currently in primer, that Herman and his staff have been working on “five days a week for a year.” When completed, it will be Asher Blue over light beige.
Finally, Herman shows us the reason we’re here. He explains that he once stopped to look at a Volkswagen inside a barn and saw a rusted-out 356 cabriolet. As he started to negotiate a deal, the owner said that Herman would also have to take a 356 roadster in similar condition. Done.
Work on the cabriolet “Continental,” one of fewer than 50 made and 6–8 known to exist, came first and seems to be progressing well. The roadster provides Tom an example of what the cab once looked like.
“It’s a little crispy,” Herman admits as Tom examines some rusted-out metal.
“It would scare the willies out of me,” Tom says.
Herman is nonchalant. “That’s just all in a day’s work.”
Tom and the crew step outside of Herman’s shop (Herman & Walker, LLC) and point out some newer—and less expensive—Porsches sitting outside Herman’s neighbor, JTS Motorsports, which is a Porsche service shop. First, Tom shows us a 924 “that’s trashed, but I’m told it runs.” It can be had for $500. “If you only have $500 to spend on an entry-level project car, these are out there,” Tom says, then jokes, “If you want to own the ugliest Porsche in the world, then here’s your opportunity to do that.”
One thing is for sure: A 924 will cost you a lot less than the cars on which Herman spends most of his time and labor.
Until next time, happy hunting.