Delwyn Mallett started his Porsche 356 ‘Streamliner’ project 40 years ago – long before the term ‘Outlaw’ was coined to describe modified Porsches. The motivation was a failure to buy what he was really after – one of the now-legendary aluminium coupés built in Gmünd, Austria, where Porsche had relocated during WWII.
Only around 50 were built between 1948 and 1950 before the Porsche team moved back to Stuttgart and started production of steel bodied cars. Delwyn tracked down a Gmünd coupe in Sweden, circa 1971, but it was less a ‘barn find’ more a collapsed shed find.
Having been dragged to a more hospitable location the vendor described it as ‘lacking all ferrous parts’. In other words the steel platform had rusted away. But he still wanted twice what Delwyn had recently paid for his everyday driver, a 1957 Porsche Speedster, which had cost what now sounds a ridiculously cheap £350. Delwyn made an offer, which the vendor found easy to resist.
Still hankering after an early car, Delwyn eventually spotted a much neglected, partly dismantled 1952 ‘split-window’ coupe that he could afford. But still with plenty of rust.
With a passion for 1930s streamlining, from the outset his intention was to create something that echoed the Gmünd race cars that announced Porsche’s debut in international racing at the 1951 Le Mans 24 Hours. Like the 1939 Porsche-designed Berlin-Rome Volkswagens they sported spats over all four wheels, and had louvred panels instead of glass in the rear quarter lights.
In the first fit of enthusiasm Delwyn had the aluminium appendages fabricated and fitted but house moves and other wheeled acquisitions saw it moved to the back burner – for rather a long time. Finally, 28-years after Delwyn bought it, the bodywork was completed and it was mobile.
More years slipped by when eventually a rather too intimate caress from a pick-up truck precipitated the final phase of the car’s transformation. Along the wayDelwyn acquired a Judson supercharger, originally designed for the VW Beetle, and decided to fit it to the Porsche’s 1300cc engine. The 356’s seats are admired for their comfort but they are seriously heavy so lightweight tubular steel alternatives based on those in the 1940 Mille Miglia BMW 328 roadsters were commissioned.
A roadster, of course, lacks a roof, something that Delwyn had neglected to take into account, so you can’t exactly drop into the seats but once you’ve clambered sideways over the tubing they are surprisingly comfortable – and they look great. It’s taken far longer than he would have liked but finally Delwyn is happy that he’s created his very own streamliner.