1958 PORSCHE 356 SPEEDSTER

It's mine...

ERNIE NAMAGATSU

ERNIE NAMAGATSU

THIS IS MY second visit to Phillip Island, we were here two years ago with a í64 Cobra and the 1959 Old Yeller Buick Special. This year we brought the 356. In southern California they had more races than anywhere else in the US because of the weather; you could race in the winter, which is perfect for a roadster. Twothirds of the grid for E Production in 1957/58/59 was Speedsters because if you wanted to race at the front you bought a Speedster and that made Porsche in the USA. Our í58 Speedster represents what was the benchmark for great racing cars then when Porsche brand loyalty started.

This little Speedster was driven for 33 straight years by air force General James Kilpatrick. He could have changed to a more competitive car but he was loyal to Porsche. In the end he was racing against Mazda Miatas (MX-5s), which he couldnít really challenge, but with his pilotís meticulous attention to detail, his preparation was so good he got to the SCCA Run-Offs at Road Atlanta twice, in 1989/90.

Iíve had the car for 16 years. The Generalís daughter worked for me and I saw the General race it several times at Riverside and when he passed on the family asked if I wanted to take on the car. I said I would to preserve its legacy. The car was neglected when I got it. We took it back to a bare chassis in England and got it squared up and had cracks in the frame welded then had more good work done in New Zealand. Itís the best car Iíve had since I started racing Formula Fords 34 years ago. Even though I have a Cobra, that little red car is the most fun on the track.