- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 23, 2006

According to Ashley Wills, it all started when his father, James, brought a not-so-old, but very used Porsche to their Atlanta home. Father and teenage son carefully rebuilt the sports car, completing its restoration in 1966.

With only a few miles at the wheel of the car, young Mr. Wills in 1967 left home to matriculate at the University of Virginia. In his sophomore year he received a telephone call from his mother to say she was in the Porsche when she tangled with a dump truck and the Porsche came out of the collision second best.

He was glad that his mother’s health was unimpaired.

After that he went on to graduate, marry Gina and they raised son, Zachary, and daughter, Olivia, while he was posted hither and yon during his years in the foreign service. During all those years he never forgot that old Porsche.

His last child was graduated from college in 2004 and Mr. Wills retired from the foreign service in 2005. It was then, Mr. Wills says, “Daddy indulged himself.”

With his parental obligations fulfilled, he began searching for a vintage Porsche. He hunted far and wide but virtually in his own back yard he located a fully restored champagne yellow 1964 Porsche 356 SC near Solomon, Md.

However, he first had to pass muster. The owner was looking for a good home for his Porsche and wouldn’t sell it to anyone he thought might abuse the car. Mr. Wills convinced the owner of his good intentions and in May 2005 became the fourth owner of the Porsche.

Originally the car was an off-white color and was purchased in Germany by a U.S. Air Force officer who shipped it back to the United States and sold it in California. The third owner purchased the car in the early 1980s and brought it back to Maryland where he restored it in the late 1980s.

During restoration the original color was discarded in favor of yellow. The seats are covered in a fawn-colored leatherette with corduroy inserts.

Research indicates that Mr. Wills’ Porsche sold new for nearly $5,700 and it was delivered Dec. 10, 1963, with five accessories:

• Antenna.

• Dunlop tires.

• Two speakers.

• Chrome wheels.

• Electric sunroof.

With a wheelbase of a hair under 84 inches, the almost 13-foot, 2-inch-long car is exceedingly nimble. Its squat profile is 5 feet, 5.25 inches wide and it stands 4 feet, 3.5 inches high, presenting something of a challenge for it’s 6-foot-tall owner.

“It’s a great road car,” Mr. Wills says. Just put it on 60 mph and it will handle any road, its enthusiastic owner says.

Not only is the factory sunroof a rarity, Mr. Wills says the luggage rack over the rear engine is as well.

With two dozen ribs, the rack can hold luggage a few inches away from the engine hood to permit the engine to breathe freely.

Despite a German reputation for efficiency, Mr. Wills says the positioning of the right exterior mirror makes it “useless.”

Neat little touches abound throughout the car help to make it special, including the dual exhausts exiting through openings in the two chrome-plated bumper guards.

The quarter windows are designed to swivel out for ventilation. There is no room for them to be lowered into the side body panels.

Attention to detail was evident during restoration with rectangular reflectors mounted above the teardrop-shaped taillights.

A singular backup light is mounted below the bumper in the center of the car.

The air-cooled rear engine develops 95 horsepower with the help of twin Solex carburetors.

While seated behind the wooden Mota Lita steering wheel, Mr. Wills notes that the original European specification instruments have been changed to American export versions. He has also installed an authentic Europa radio.

Records show that the sporty Porsche, since restoration in the late 1980s, has been driven about 54,000 miles.

During the 11 or so months that he has owned the car, Mr. Wills says he has added about 1,800 miles to the total.

Upon taking delivery of the car, Mr. Wills went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to register his new old car as an antique.

With the random selection of license plates, he was handed a pair that ended with the letter suffix of “AW,” his initials.

“This car was fated to be mine,” he says.

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