An early Porsche sport car believed to be the oldest running example in Oregon will be featured at the 2019 Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance on Sunday, July 21.
The restored 1953 Porsche 356 coupe is owned by Doug Naef of Milwaukie. The German automaker began production of its first iconic "bathtub" sport car in 1948. They established Porsche as a maker of nimble and durable sports cars that were also "giant killers" on the race track.
The first 50 cars, produced through 1950, were hand-built. Naef's car was assembled in November 1952. It is part of the first generation of mass-produced Porsche 356s built through 1955. Only about 1,500 were built in 1953. Though unusual, the striking azure blue is a factory original color.
"It's very rare car that gets more valuable every year," says Naef, who owns a local State Farm insurance agency. He became interested in the 356 line while growing up around his parent's air-cooled Volkswagens, which are related to the earliest Porsches. He still has the first car he ever bought at age 19, a sporty Volkswagen Karmann Ghia fastback coupe, which shares some parts with his 356.
Naef first saw his 1953 Porsche eight years ago on display at one of the summer Beaches Cruise-in car shows at Portland International Raceway. He told the local owner he was interested in buying it, and he got a call a few months later saying it was going to be sold on eBay. Naef made the highest bid.
Although the previous owner had the car professionally restored, it was not up to full concours standards. After Naef bought it, he removed the boxer motor and corrected some minor details to it and the engine bay before reinstalling it. He has spent years tracking down other parts to make it as original as possible, based on the certificate of authenticity that came from the factory with the listing listing all of its features.
The car does not sit in Naef's garage, however. He has driven it to many events, including Porsche gatherings in California, and he is planning a trip to Arizona later this year.
"It's not a museum piece. It's meant to be driven," said Naef, who estimates it has been driven 10,000 miles since the restoration but does not know how many total miles are on it.
Naef has been involved with the Forest Grove show for many years, both as an entrant and a judge. He will be judging again this year, but not the class that his Porsche 356 is entered in.
Robert Olmedo of Wilmington, N.C., will also be displaying his 1960 Porsche 356 at the show.
Now in its 47th year, the 2019 show will feature more than 300 classic, sport and custom cars. It is expected to draw thousands of visitors to the campus of Pacific University, about 45-minute drive west of Portland, where the automobiles will compete in 50 judged classes.
In addition to honoring 70 years of Porsche, this years concours will also show celebrate the 120th anniversary of the Packard Motor Co., the American luxury automobile marque founded in 1899. More than two-dozen are already registered, including: a 1940 convertible sedan that's been in Portlander Joseph Santana's family for 71 years; a 1928 Sport Runabout presented by Bhagwan Mayer of Ladysmith, British Columbia; and a 1918 Packard flatbed truck, owned by Matt Pihl of Banks.
And the show will also highlight 100 years of Bentley, celebrating the automaker established in 1919 by a pair of British brothers with a penchant for racing. Among the Bentleys on display in Forest Grove will be a 1956 Series 1 owned by Mike Eshaia of Lake Oswego and a 1954 Bentley owned by Dennis Carter of Canby.
The all-volunteer show, produced by the Rotary Club of Forest Grove since 1973, is the largest and longest-running Concours d'Elegance in the Pacific Northwest.
The event is the service organization's largest annual fundraiser, with net proceeds divided equally among the club's scholarship program and community service projects. Thanks to the Concours d'Elegance, the Rotary Club of Forest Grove has returned more than $1 million to the community.
Tickets are available on the event website.
Hours for the Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, July 21.
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