“Outlaw” Porsche 356: The Ultimate Tough Customer

I have to admit, aside from a rare few 356 Speedsters, I’m really not an “antique” car guy. I’ve looked at thousands of old cars in my life, but they never really seem to do a lot for me. Some people love the history an antique car represents and long for the good old days of low tech, simple driver’s cars. Personally, I love create comforts, the latest stereo equipment, seats that haven’t had the life worn out of them, technological advances such as nav, etc.


I don’t remember where, but at some point in the last couple of weeks, I stumbled on a movement that seems to have started in Southern California where guys are turning their Porsche 356s into “outlaws”. The result is some dang cool cars.

As a side note, it’s worth mentioning I’m not really into heavy customization, freaky car aerodynamics, or in your face colors. These cars though are such a great blend of old meets new creating a thing of beauty.

You might be asking yourself at this point, “What in the heck are you talking about? Outlaw 356?” I think this thread on TheSamba.com is nice summation:

DT: Just what is a outlaw 356? what makes it a outlaw?

MP: Bigger/modified engine
lowered/modified suspension
typically non stock paint color
typically non stock wheels
typically non stock interior
sometimes deleted bumpers, possibly nerf bars

I always think of a 356 hotrod…

GL: Usually not a stock or “period performance”, but all out performance.

DT: so just about anything that the good Doctor didn’t put on or take off when they were built makes them an outlaw.[Via TheSamba.com]

Of course this drives the Porsche purists nuts to say the least. It seems like most of the guys “building” outlaw 356s have their heads on the shoulders though. They’re not taking rare, historically significant or otherwise untouchable 356s and chopping them up. They’re customizing the cars that are more common or too expensive to consider restoring. It seems like there’s a line that isn’t crossed.

The first “outlaw 356” appears to be a 1956 356 Carrara customized by Dean Jeffries in 1957. As soon as he purchased the car, he started modifying it to showcase his abilities as a custom car builder. When asked years later why he customized a Porsche, he answered, “Because, back then only the sports car guys had any money. All of the hot rodders were broke.”

The next significant person on the “outlaw” scene seems to be Gary Emory. In fact, his friends call him “the Outlaw” because of his extensive customizations to Porsche 356s. He spent ten years prepping and showing cars in concours events, but an interesting thing happend over time:

…it gradually dawned on Gary Emory that his passion for polishing was waning rather than waxing. He was starting to take that hike down the Porsche highways from concours to consumption, and nothing was going to turn the tide back ever again: “I wanted to build cars I could enjoy more, and drive more, We were so busy toothbrushing “em that we were afraid to drive them anywhere. In those days, we used to drive them to concours, then work for hours getting them all cleaned up. When we were all through, we’d say, ‘You know, that wasn’t so much fun.’ After ten years of that, I decided to get into fun cars, especially vintage cars.” [Via PartsObsolete.com]

That’s probably the thing I love most about the Outlaw 356. A vintage car that is actually fun to drive. One that takes advantage of more modern components to build that old meets new vibe I talked about initially. By the way, Gary and Family are still at it today. Check out EmoryMotorSports.com to see their work, some cool video and lots of Outlaw 356 pictures.

By far my favorite Outlaw 356 to date is the one pictured at the top of this post. It’s a black 1964 Porsche 356 owned by Chris Toy. Aside from a few cosmic updates and the word “Outlaw” in gold on the glove box and engine cover, you’d think this was a nice example of a classic car. Until, that is, he fires up the 1979 930 Turbo engine dropped into the car. Patrick Paternie, who rode in the car with Toy said, “This is a 356 with the soul of a Porsche 911 Turbo.”

Oh mama!!!……..

Toy intentionally kept the car relatively stock looking. He wanted the car to be a sleeper. I’d say he accomplished that mission. Bottom line, he brought a lot of the best things found in many Porsche models into one vehicle. If I were to ever embark on a project like this (and you better believe it’s going on my dream list), I’d be ecstatic if I ended up with something like Chris Toy’s car.

Here’s another couple of cool “outlaw” pictures:

Who’s ready to start an Outlaw 356 project?!

Further Reading
Some great Outlaw 356 pictures: BruceClement.com
A nice writeup about Dean Jeffries and the first Outlaw 356: Kustom Karrera
Gary Emory’s site: EmoryMotorSports.com
A lengthy article on Gary Emory’s “outlaw” Porches: PartsObsolete.com


  1. own a Porsche 911 2004, model 996. It is a convertible, and I have not been having problems with the roof until I got a hard top put on it, which leaked constantly, so I took I got it taken off.

  2. the first picture is super fantastic i love it

  3. http://www.btinet.net/~sharoncol/porsche356.htm

    Above you can find my little Outlaw Build, let me know what you think. Thanks for your time.

  4. I love the resto mod of any vehicle but these 356’s appear to be ripe for this type of rebuild. I personally think that taking a classic like the 356 and adding modern safety and drive-ability features/products or even full blown performance upgrades like a 930 turbo engine and other tweaks to them is an important part of the car culture.

    I took a 1972 Ford Bronco and did the same type of thing. I took a fairly capable old school SUV and turned it in to a very capable machine with disc brakes, advanced suspension components and engine upgrades. It is my daily driver here the SF bay area and I get compliments constantly on it. So I am real proud of it.

    Thanks for this article it has definitely sparked an interest and I’ll be looking to build my own very soon.

  5. Now …isn’t the 356 “outlaw” a version what we call the Cal-Look beetle? Porsche guys and VW guys just never seem to be on the same page, Porsche guys don’t want to acknowlege VW ever existed… ironically, the Porsche 356 was born from the VWs ashes….

  6. Porsche Pete says

    Adding some or all of the necessary (safety) racing features to a 356 is a nice touch for an outlaw. Roll cage, fuel cell, battery cutoff etc. Its funny how by just slimming down on much of the unnecessary body fat of a 356 will add such character. Ofcourse, if your going for the image of a race car you might want to improve on a few performance features. As a tip, study up on some of the other porsches of the 356 era and youll probably collect a few good ideas for your outlaw.

  7. Now these beautiful 356’s were never meant to be hot rods or modified. I keep the pure thing a 1959 356A 1600S coupe. Sorry to see these beautiful cars modified. Just a thought.


  1. […] been in love with the idea. In fact, it was love at first site. You can read my original post here: “Outlaw” Porsche 356: The Ultimate Tough Customer. That’s by far one of my favorite posts on the blog from the last year and I still find […]

  2. 500th Post says:

    […] “Outlaw” Porsche 356: The Ultimate Tough Customer – This is probably one of my all-time favorites. I am absolutely in love with the old 356 ride sporting some minor updates. This is one car I would love to have the opportunity to build some day. […]