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3,000 KM For A Cause Across Australia

A preview of Ron Goodman's epic summer 2023 adventure

Image via Ron Goodman’s Instagram

It started with the Porsche 356

As we all know, the 356 was the first globally sold car made by Porsche, and firmly planted Stuttgart on many an enthusiast’s map. It came in a variety of body styles, including roadster, cabriolet, and coupe, and quickly became one of the favorite cars for drivers in the 1950s and 1960s. It can be argued, and successfully at that, that without the 356’s immediate effect on the sports car world in the middle of the 20th century, Porsche wouldn’t be where it is today.

A Classic Car In Australia

As one of those countries that the 356 was sold in, Australia might seem like a perfect place to own a Porsche. Beautiful landscapes, long stretches of open road, and weather that rarely if ever even gets close to the freezing mark. Sure, there are some downsides, such as venomous spiders and snakes, bluebottle jellyfish lurking just off some beaches, and when it gets hot in Australia, it gets “proper hot,” but you can’t deny that the country seems designed to welcome Porsche sports cars to its roads.

Ron Goodman, owner of Exclusive Body Werks in Sydney, Australia, with his beloved #23 356B coupe with lots of “go faster” bits installed. Image via Silodrome

That is the thought that is shared by Ron Goodman, owner of Exclusive Body Werks in Sydney, and a lifelong Porsche enthusiast and gentleman racer that owns a beautiful 1964 Porsche 356C 1600 Coupe that started its life with him as a collision write-off. With over 40 years owning and operating one of the most respected Porsche body and repair shops in the country, it is only natural that Ron also knows pretty much everything about 356s, which he drives both on the road and at racetracks.

Another thing that binds Ron with almost every other Porsche enthusiast around the world is that we are a charitable bunch. We might play it off with a shrug, but it is almost in our nature to help those disadvantaged or less better off than we are, and it is with this in mind that Ron, after a great deal of thought about it, decided that he was going to go on an epic road trip with a very important purpose: To raise funds for the Aboriginal Health Unit of the Sydney Children’s Hospital.

The 1964 Porsche 356B 1600 Coupe Art Car

Ron admits that he was inspired by the Janice Joplin Porsche 356 that the singer bought, then handed over to her roadie, Dave Richards, who was a part time artist, to turn into an art car. It became a symbol of the hippie movement, and also became a cherished piece of automotive art after Joplin’s untimely death. With this car in mind, Ron took that 1964 356C 1600 write-off and, instead of making it roadworthy for sale, he and the team at Exclusive Body Werks rebuilt it into an off-road machine.

The Janice Joplin 1963 Porsche 356 SC, the inspiration for Ron’s art car. Image via Car Images

From the front all the way to the back, it has had a complete restoration to original condition, before the suspension was reworked for the rougher terrain it will be traveling over. The engine has been completely disassembled and rebuilt to absolutely original specifications, as well as the transmission undergoing the same treatment. Ron states that there are no “go-faster bits” added, as he wants the car to be able to make the trip in as original condition as possible to prove that even 60 years on, it’s still a reliable sports car. The only non-original bits, apart from the reworked suspension, are the tires, which are a light truck (or as they are known in Australia, Ute) tire that fits very well in the 356’s wheel wells, looking almost like they were factory originals.

The central focus of the trip, Uluru, painted in aboriginal style on the car. Image via SCHF

After the build was completed, he handed it over to the world-renowned and highly respected Indigenous artist Danny Eastwood, with the only direction being to give it an aboriginal theme and to include Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, as a central part of the art. Uluru is a highly spiritual and revered place for the entirety of the Aṉangu tribal group area, which consists of most of Western Australia. It is a UNESCO world heritage site, and features a lot of preserved aboriginal petroglyphs on its sides and top.

The world-famous Uluru, or as it’s sometimes better known, Ayers Rock, in the middle of the Australian outback. Image via WikiMedia Commons

Access to Uluru requires one to drive deep into the Outback, the famously rugged and dry interior of Australia. While there is a highway network to get one part of the way there, there are still significant sections where it’s just a ripping hot stretch of pavement that follows the undulations of the land, and a lot of small stretches of rough outback dirt roads. As Ron himself states, taking a 60 year old car and an over 60 year old driver from the Parramatta Central Business District of Sydney all the way to Uluru through some of the most challenging countryside in the nation is going to have its ups and downs.

The Journey To Come In June 2023

The trip was supposed to take place in September of 2022, however issues discovered during the shakedown, such as the all new alternator exploding after only 300 kilometers, or 186 miles, put a bit of a damper on things. Other issues around scheduling with media for the documentary that will be shot about the trip pushed plans back, however there is now a firm starting date of June 23, 2023. We will, of course, be tracking the journey, as it is not often you see a mostly original 356B tackle 3,000 KM (1,864 miles) of highway, back road, dirt road, and even off-road in one continuous trip.

The old and the new: A vintage 1964 356C 1600 Coupe combined with a QR code to scan that takes you to the donations/charity page. Image via SCHF

The journey will hit some pretty major landmarks and towns along the way, such as the first leg from Parramatta in Sydney ending at the famous Mount Panorama Circuit, a world-class race track that is made up of public roads in the small town of Bathurst. It is expected that the car will go slightly off course on its Western leg to dip down into Adelaide, the fifth largest city in Australia behind Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth, for media and charity events.

After Adelaide, though, that’s when all the work, the rebuild, the modifications to the suspension, and the durability of the car will be put to the test. Once out of Adelaide, it’s an almost directly North trip through the Outback. While it may sound simple, and the trip will be taking place in the Australian Winter, the temperatures can reach over 35 Celsius, or 95 Fahrenheit, even in Winter.

What stretches of the Outback look like. Compacted dirt road, inhospitable terrain, hot weather and not a cloud in the sky. This will definitely test the build quality of the 356C! Image via Wikivoyage

Since Uluru is just South of the dead center of Australia, this part could be considered the endurance leg of the drive. The long stretch of highway between Adelaide and Uluru is often used in post-apocalyptic movies as it is barren. Add in heat mirages off the road, the heat itself, and the fact that the 356B uses an entirely air cooled engine… it will test to see just how well the car was set up!

While the epic journey has yet to occur, you can be sure that with the media attention it’s garnering, as well as one of the national TV networks, 7Mate, filming a documentary about it, we will be passing along all the news and trip updates we can!

If you would like to chip in a little to help out, the fundraising page is organized by the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation, as part of the “All In For The Children” series of events.