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Raised from the dead

Paniti Vasuratna breathes new life into a 'zombie' abandoned for 30 years

In many movie plots, witches can be seen casting spells to bring monsters to life. It was a bit like that for Paniti Vasuratna. Although neither a wizard nor a monster, he brought an old Porsche 356 back to life after it had been idle for three decades.

Paniti, who is engaged in the property-development business, recalls that when he first saw the old car, it looked like a zombie from a thriller movie. Little wonder, for the Porsche 356, which has a 1600cc Super engine, first hit the road in 1960.

"It was parked in front of the owner's home. I walked around it and felt my body tremble - not because I was scared of it, but because I wanted to own it. It was the car of my dreams, ever since I was young. I was so busy looking at the car that my friend had to nudge me gently, to introduce the car's owner. He said he was an heir of the original owner, and wanted to sell the car because it reminded him of the original owner."

However, the car had not moved for more than 30 years, and had not been started in that time.

"I felt a bit daunted when I heard that," Paniti says. "While I was thinking, the owner offered me the car's key and told me to try it - to see whether it could be restored to life. I accepted the key and opened the door gently for fear that some parts might be damaged. I was hit by a bad smell from the car's leather seats, but that didn't stop me. I turned the key and started the car. It was still functioning!"

Paniti says he quickly turned the engine off and called a mechanic to undertake the restoration.

"The car was a rare find. I told my regular mechanic that he shouldn't hurry in fixing it, so the repairs took more than two years," he says. "Spare parts for Porsches are easy to buy, and Porsche cars can tolerate all kinds of weather, as can be seen from the fact that it was not even parked in the shade, and after 30 years it has only a little rust."

The 1960 Porsche 356 was the first model with an assembly line separated from Volkswagen. The famous brand saw its future in two-door sporty cars.

"My car's design still looks like a Volkswagen Beetle," Paniti says. "The car's mechanical parts have two origins. Some were made quite recently, and others were manufactured in the past. The parts that have been produced recently cannot compare with those produced in the past."

He says some Porsche devotees can tell which parts are recently produced.

"Car restoration needs very much effort and attention. At the moment, the radio is the only thing in the car that is not working, so I'm looking for a radio repair shop to restore it. When that's finished, my Porsche 356 will have its life fully restored to its former glory."

Thanadol Rila

The Nation

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