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John & Diane Mercer - Membership no 145
Member since: September 1995
I'm based in Maidstone in Kent
I've always been fascinated by the 356 Speedster, but realised I might never be able to afford an original car. I read every book I could and carried out lots of research, and started a website, Speedsters.com where I listed everything I found. I decided to use a Chesil body to build a replica and soon after became one of the early members of the Speedsters club suggesting that the club might use my website to publicise the club and improve communications between members.
My car was planned as a unique Speedster Carrera replica with as many original Porsche bits as possible. I worked out a slide lift system using scaffolding components that allowed me to roll the chassis under the body, test the fitting of body to chassis, work on the chassis and engine, and still use the other half of the garage.
The donor car was a 1965 Beetle and I had a lot of help from Paul Foreman who practically built the chassis for me. Chesil fabricated a louvred aluminium boot-lid and I added a 911 fan, low profile additional oil sump, a large external oil cooler and filter and some great replica wheels. I also acquired a performance exhaust system from Germany. All very exciting.
Unfortunately I was diagnosed with acute Prostate Cancer in 2000 and although I survived a major op and several months off work, my business did not and I was broke.
Over the next couple of years I began build up my consultancy business again but realised I would not have the time or money to finish the car. I decided to sell everything as an unfinished project and the eventual purchaser was Paul Foreman who finished off the build. He later found a buyer but was kind enough to show me the finished car before it went north to its new owner.
After that I continued both to build up my business and plan to retire, but my interest in Speedsters continued unabated. In 2007 although I was still far from being able to afford a good Speedster, I could not resist an opportunity to buy a 'bargain' Porsche 968 Cabriolet, and although I had to spend a bit on the paintwork etc, the engine was strong and has taken me round Brands and Le Mans at speeds far beyond my competence as a driver.
Unfortunately further health problems in the family meant that I could not afford to continue to maintain (and repair) the 968 and I had to sell it early in 2012.
click on any image below to enlarge
I had continued to develop the www.speedsters.com website as as a sanity preserving hobby, and as I continued to add dozens and dozens of pages of content on Speedster history and development, the site became regarded as the ideal place to sell Speedsters because of the high traffic it generated. At the same time I built a completely separate site for the Speedsters and Spyders Club, which I still maintain.
I had almost given up hope of ever owning a Speedster when at the end of 2014 I received an enquiry from someone based in South Wales wanting to advertise a Speedster for sale on my site. I thought I recognised some of the specs, made some further enquiries and arranged to go down to see the car. It was the project I had started in the 1990s, the car had done a huge mileage, had several owners, new engine(s) and many of the original bits were missing - but when I sat in it it, I had to have it - and drove it back from Wales. (see full article from Speedsters magazine)
My grandchildren absolutely love it and it has been a real boost for me to have it again, as the period when I was ill and had to abandon the original project was a very dark time indeed.
Since getting the car back into my garage I have been working on lots of basic maintenance over the winter, new tyres, shocks, a new exhaust, steering overhaul, and general lubrication and adjustment. I've replaced the front ball-joints and had a full rolling-road tune and carb balance. The car goes much better now but I need to adjust the drum brakes fairly often to get it to stop properly.
It may take me some time to get the car to the level of specification and condition that I am aiming for, but whatever state the car is in when the Spring comes, I hope to get to as many events as possible and to meet some old Club Member friends as well as new Speedster enthusiasts.