1958 356A Coupe Rally Car

1958 356A Coupe Rally Car

In 2004 we were approached by a client who had decided that he wanted to have a go at classis rallying and for his very first event had entered the 2007 Peking to Paris rally! Having already started a Porsche collection his choice of car was a 356A RHD. Our instructions were to find a donor car, totally restore it and prepare it for endurance rallying. As it happened another of our clients had purchased a South African RHD 356A project, an incomplete car with VW engine and transmission, a deal was done and this became the starting point for the project.
What parts remained on the bodyshell were removed and then the bodyshell was media blasted to bare metal, what was revealed was a very rusty bodyshell with numerous very dubious African bush welding repairs. At this point being totally committed to the project the bodyshell was dissected, all of the corroded panels and sections removed and new panels installed. On one visit by the client the bodyshell was just a mass of panels held together with mole grips and the nick name Molly Mole Grip was born, later shortened to Molly, the name the car is known by to this day.

Once the basic bodyshell restoration was complete, various strengthening plates were added, seat mounts, foot rest, seat belt mounts, full welded in roll cage etc. Once all this was complete the bodyshell was transferred to the paint shop.
Attention now turned to preparing the mechanics. A “new old stock” late model industrial engine was sourced and this was used as the basis to build a low compression 1720 engine built specifically to run on poor quality fuel.

An SC transmission was sourced and this was fully rebuilt and adapted to the A gear selector mechanism. Suspension and brake components were prepared.

Once the car came out the paint shop assembly began in earnest. Much consideration was given to the instrument and switch gear layout and the installation of all the navigational aids, once all of this was decided a purpose build loom was made and installed with a relay and fuse board panel accessible by the navigator. Needless to say the electrical system was 12 volt.

Additional equipment included a front mounted oil cooler, spare voltage regulator on a quick release connector, under body guards, a roof rack to carry additional spare wheels etc. long range fuel tank etc. etc.

Run in, dyno tested and de bugged the car set off on its first journey, Peking to Paris. All was going well until somewhere in the desert the engine started to lose power as the air filters became clogged with sand, another helpful competitor advised removal of the filters! Result, a very sick engine having ingested half the desert. Nothing to do other than load Molly on a recovery truck and transport her to a Porsche main dealer in Russia. Frantic calls to Gantspeed and within a few hours Gantspeed staff were on a flight with enough hand luggage to rebuild the engine. The main dealer was very helpful keeping the workshop open all night whilst the engine was frantically rebuilt. No time for the luxury of things like a roadtest and adjustments the crew jumped in and set off at full speed eventually catching up with the other crews and a trouble free drive to the finish. Talk about jumping in at the deep end.


Molly subsequently changed hands and has now competed on the following events, with a strong finish every time and no mechanical issues.

2007 Peking to Paris, China, Mongolia, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, France, 12,247 kilometres, Molly finished the rally and won a bronze medal.

2012 Tiger Rally, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, 5,595 kilometres.

2013, Vintage Cape Horn, Argentina, Chile, 6,300 kilometres. Molly won two stage gold medals and finished 10th overall.

2013 Classic Safari, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, 9,125 Kilometres. Molly won a special award as the only car not to need mechanical assistance throughout the whole rally.

2014 Morocco rally, 1,677 kilometres. Molly was part of the overall winning team.

2015 Icelandic Saga, 2,090 kilometres. Molly was 1st in class and won the Concours de comfort et d ’equipment.

2012 Molly was invited to be on display at the Goodwood Road Racing Club member’s day, outside Goodwood House.

2013 Molly was invited to be on display at The Classics at the Castle, Hedingham and was awarded a Vic Elford rosette.

In the past 8 years Molly has covered 37,034 kilometres of competitive endurance rallying and has travelled all over France on Tours.

2016 Molly will take part in The Midnight Sun Rally to the Arctic Circle and a trip across the USA.

To see more of mollys expeditions visit her blog here 

Molly back from Peking 1

GS 040

GS 039

GS 038