For some Porsche enthusiasts, the road to ownership follows a course which perhaps starts as an interest back as a young child, followed by increasing interest through those teenage years and early adulthood, ending in ownership at some later point. Others simply splash out later in life and buy a Porsche in what is generally termed a ‘mid-life crisis’. But there is always one story that bucks the trend, such as how a passionate teenager stopped his father from selling the sports car he loved.
Francisco Trespalacios was born and raised in that passionate Latin American melting pot, Mexico City. His real introduction to the world of motor cars started in 1964 when his father began teaching him to drive the family VW Beetle at the tender age of just 8 years. The other car in the family at the time was a 1958 Porsche 356 A 1600 Super Cabriolet, which his father had bought when he traded in the family Ford Thunderbird back in ‘61. But during those early formative years, Francisco was only allowed behind the wheel of the VW Beetle.
The Porsche had been purchased new by its first owner, Bruno Krieger Potts, who was a rally driver which is why the car has the Blaupunkt Hamburg short wave radio and the Heuer rally pack. Mexico has a strong history of racing, and when asked if his father was a racing driver, Francisco replied, “No, my father didn’t race, he would just drive fast on the road!” At 8 years of age, Francisco could not see over the top of the dashboard of the Porsche, and so he would have to wait another four years before he was allowed behind the wheel of the Porsche. But in 1968, at just 12 years of age, Francisco’s dreams were realised when he was allowed to drive the Porsche with his father beside him.
Motoring was no doubt an important aspect of life in the Trespalacios household, as from the age of just 14 years, Francisco was allowed to drive the family cars alone on the streets of Mexico City. This no doubt stirred the emotions of the young teenage Francisco, as he yearned to get behind the wheel of the Porsche that lurked in the garage at home. He felt an early bond with the Porsche 356 Cabriolet, but we are getting ahead of ourselves as the story of how one very lucky 14-year old became the proud owner of his dream car is a fascinating one, as readers will find.
Vamos empuje! (Come on push!)
Francisco’s father used the Porsche as his daily driver, and he had a Japanese mechanic who looked after the car. A good job he did too, but then that mechanic mysteriously disappeared one day. This left his father without a mechanic, and with the engine having suffered a malfunction, the car became a non-runner. In 1965 the car was relegated to a corner in his father’s warehouse where it sat for the next five years, sadly forgotten, and facing a rather uncertain and somewhat undeserving future. Then one day, it came to Francisco’s attention that his father was contemplating selling the Porsche, and in fact, his father had already found an interested buyer.
Francisco, then just 14 years old, was not happy with this situation, and mentioning it to a close friend at school, Manuel Cusi, a plan was duly hatched to rescue the Porsche. The plan was as audacious as it was cunning, and it certainly was only within the bounds of possibility in the fruitful, hormone-induced minds of two teenage boys that it could be even remotely successful. Some may have labelled their plan as foolhardy, but brave the two boys certainly were.
On the agreed day, the two intrepid youngsters arrived at the warehouse, and with Francisco being well-known by the staff, they probably thought nothing more as the two boys disappeared into the depths of the warehouse. The two boys waited for an opportune moment and just then, with the warehouse entrance unguarded, they pushed the Porsche out of the warehouse unnoticed and around the corner to a gas station where they put air into the tyres. But this is where the plan becomes even more incredible, as the two youngsters proceeded to push the vehicle which had not moved for five years, the 10 km distance from Francisco’s fathers’ warehouse, to their home. You read it right, two teenage boys pushed a Porsche 356 for 10 km through the streets of Mexico City, unchallenged by the authorities. The route they took can be followed on Google Maps (other search engines are available) to verify the distance. It must be said that the Porsche was minus its engine which made it a good deal lighter, as this had been removed for repair, and sat nearby on the floor of the warehouse.
Fortunately most of the planned route was along flat roads, but Francisco describes the one section where they needed help, “…From Insurgentes we did a right into Ricardo Castro Street, through Ricardo Castro Street there is one block from Insurgentes which is flat, the next block was also flat with many small stores (convenience, grocery, ice cream, pharmacy, etc). The next block was up hill, we were so tired and we couldn’t push it anymore, but this is where many people from the small stores came onto the street to help us push the car – ‘vamos empujen’ (come on push!) I called to them.” They got the Porsche home, and pushed it round the back of the house.
This was only half the battle, as Francisco knew that when his father returned home that night, he was going to have to answer some awkward questions. When his father returned home, he called for Francisco to come downstairs, and asked him where his car was. When his father asked why it was outside, Francisco replied, “Well Dad, it is parked outside because I don’t want you to sell it. But he said to me that it was his car and not mine, and he wanted to know why we took it without his permission. So I said, because I really don’t want you to sell it, and I want to keep it. My father burst out laughing and said that I didn’t have to take it like that, the car was mine and he threw me the keys. And that is the way I came to own it.”
And so at the age of just 14 years, Francisco became the proud owner of a 1958 Porsche 356 A 1600 Cabriolet. “I kept the car in the garage at home and I didn’t use it until 1974, and then my father said to me, ‘Look if you’re not going to use the car I am going to sell it, so go and do something to the car!’” Francisco recalled. The quickest and easiest way to get the car running was to purchase and install a VW engine, and so Francisco began the search for a 1600cc VW engine. “I was looking for a 1600 engine which was new to the VW Beetle that year as it had a twin port intake head,” Francisco added. The new 1600cc engine was hard to find being new, and so he had to settle for a single port 1500cc unit, “I had no money to buy the VW engine, so my dad paid for it,” he revealed.