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The Tale of the Rabbat, Carrera Tales

This is the only Carrera Tale that appeared in the 356 Registry magazine a few years ago. Here it is again.

The Tale of the Rabbat VIN#151925
We as 356 enthusiasts can probably all remember when we first fell in love with the quintessential Porsche. For some of us it was sudden and for others it may have been more gradual, but we all knew the moment we had to have one, Freddy Rabbat sure does,
“Me and Porsches… an old story that started when I was 17 years old. While living in Brazil, São Paulo, by 1980, I went with a good friend of mine to visit his uncle to see his new car. It was the Envemo Super 90 number 5, he just got the car from the first lot produced – this car is known as the best replica from a 356 Coupe ever done in the world – the car had a 2.100cc VW engine and was a blast on the highway, to make it short we went on a quick trip to the mountains near São Paulo and I was sitting on the little back seat enjoying that ride as the best ride of my life. From that moment on I started to dream on a 356 for me.


By March of 1998 I was at the racetrack of Interlagos and noted a green Speedster in councours condition there, my heart bumped strongly in chest, and I went to see that car from a close distance, the owner became a good friend of mine and told me nice story of finding that car in the US one year before. Then I started my search. My idea was to get a Coupe, or a good deal on an open top car. I went to the US to try to find the car of my dreams, I saw a bunch of them, bad ones, good ones, trailer queens, etc… but there was one thing in common with all the cars I saw… they were all overpriced.”
This is a common dilemma, especially in today’s market. But if you look you can always find that 356 that speaks to you. Freddy found his in Mother Europe.
“Then I started my search in Europe too, using the all the available tools from the internet at the time. There was a dealer in Germany offering as many cars as European Collectibles offers nowadays, and with a very high turnover. I was following that dealer very closely, among others. One day I saw a nice Red Coupe, and decided it was time to go there. I told him I was going to visit him, and then informed my wife… she was pregnant from my younger son and about 2 weeks to give birth… I told her I was going to Germany, she asked if it was not a bad time to do a business trip while she could be having our son without me to help. I told her it was a very quick trip, I was leaving on Thursday night and coming back on Sunday, then I told her it was not a business trip, but one to see a 40 year old car… it took me another hour or two to explain all that and at the end she started to accept the idea, did not agree with it but accepted.
When I arrived at the dealer, 3 hours driving from Hamburg, he told me the red C Coupe was gone to a new owner, but there was a nice white C Coupe for sale at the same condition as the red one. I was kind of disappointed, but ok… lets try that one… the car was kind of quirky to drive, wrong carpet, wrong on many things, but an ok car to enjoy. When I arrived back to his shop, I started to look at the other cars, there were some nice toys over there, but there were two that I noted they could be in a museum… a 1960 BT5 GT 4 cam unrestored, and a 1959 A T2 GS Cabriolet!! “
We all dream of the Carrera but most don’t get into the 4-cam in our first 356. But then none of us are Mr. Rabbat.
“I told him my thoughts about those two cars and my dream for a 4 cam Cab – I have to confess that up to that moment I was aware of the rareness of the 4 cams, but totally clueless about difficulty to buy to they could be. He gave me the keys and said: ‘Take it for a ride!’”
It is nice to see the car salesman’s best sales tool is used the world over. It seemed to have worked on Freddy, which he readily admits.
“That was a bad thing to do to someone as passionate as me… I enjoyed those moments of driving that little special car on German countryside roads like the best drive of my life… when back to his shop I have to say I got inspired and started to negotiate the car with him… it took us hours to get into a conclusion… at the end we got a deal. He told me it was a matching numbers car, apparently with its original paint, and almost as delivered by Porsche to the first owner in Germany. I went there to buy a toy and ended up with something totally different. ”
Mr. Rabbat was about the learn the other rule of car salesman, that if someone does not know exactly what they are looking at, take advantage of it, but we will get to that in a minute. Freddy drives the car but starts to hit a few bumps in the mechanicals, so he takes the car in to have everything checked out. This is after having a fuel line go bad on him.
“At that specific moment I decide I want to get the car checked on every single bolt! Meaning I will restore it from scratch!!!
The car was with the best ever mechanic for Porsches all over Brazil, and he compromised himself to do the job by himself! I would be responsible for getting the car history done and all the parts to do the job… not an ea$y task, but I was sure that was the way to go.
They start to disassemble the car, the suspension, the interior, the engine… well the engine is another chapter, and the overall condition of the car was not bad, original floors, original and matching numbers doors and lids, correctly dated wheels, etc…
The engine: A 4 cam it is, but not the 1.600cc 692/2 plain bearing matching numbers engine I was expecting, instead a 1500cc roller bearing unnumbered engine. I think about filling an action against the seller… but do not go ahead with it. At that moment, I start to get a good bunch of good friends within the 4 cam community, and one of them (a very nice one) help me find the original kardex file from the car, I receive the Certificate of Authenticity from Porsche, and I get in touch with one of the previous owners of my car in the US – he owned the car from 74 up to 97.
I decided to restore the engine in Europe, and got some good names to do so, at the end the chosen one was Armin Baumann, an experienced 4 cam mechanic that do 4 cam engines for a long time and is one of the brilliant gurus on those engines al over the world. When he got my engine, I was there to help him unload the delivery van, he disassembled the engine so fast that I could not follow every step, I would say it took him something between 20 or 30 minutes to get the engine into little pieces, and he was about to tell me to purchase a new engine when he asked me:
‘Freddy, do you know you have an RS60 engine here?’
I didn’t. Then we decided to restore the engine as close as possible to what the engine was when new, but we would convert it to plain bearing engine for better reliability in the city traffic, and would then use a Sebring exhaust to let it breath as id did on the racetrack.”
Since the car was in great shape once the engine was done there was nothing left for Freddy to do, except drive.
“After 2 years restoring my dream I could not wait to drive it. To those not familiar with the experience of driving in a city like São Paulo, I will try to draw the picture… a city with 18 million people, 6 million cars driving around, some of them 20 or 25 years younger than my car, but unrestored and used every day since birth… some brand new armored large SUVs with body guards following them to escape from an urban violence close to a civil war, and a pavement good enough to destroy a Paris-Dakar truck ready to win the rally…
As you can see this is not the perfect environment to drive a 4-cam Porsche with alloy-steel wheels on 165 tires. To make it more complicated the gasoline there is mixed with 25% of alcohol. The good thing is that there are some highways that are in very good shape, and they are quite safe to use during the day, especially one linking the city to the mountains, a 150 miles highway with smooth pavement and great fun when climbing the mountains. Good enough to go and come back once in a while off-high season on the same day.”
Freddy has enjoyed the car so much, almost too much sometimes.
“After the break in period, I started to drive the car there as suggested by my friends; the first result was a big smile on my face for days, some astonished guys in brand new cars unable to follow my almost 45 year old little car… and a ticket (with pictures to remember) driving it at 121 mph… got my license suspended right away for 30 days… and a lesson not to do that anymore (so often!!)”
Nice to see someone that refuses to treat his Carrera like a garage queen. Let’s just hope Freddy keeps his license.

—Adam

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2 Responses

  1. Freddy says:

    Hi Adam,

    Great reading the story again!!! I was smiling all the way to the end of the story!! I think I wouldn’t be able to put it better!! The car is not treated like a garage queen and every time I use it I remember to take it close to 8.000rpms for some brief moments…. and I can feel the engine saying: Thank you!!!

    I love driving my T2 Coupe, but whenever I drive the Cab the smile lasts a lot longer on my face!!

    Cheers,

    Freddy

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