Lifestyle

Classic Garage: Workshop 5001, a Kind of Paradise for Air-Cooled Porsche Fans

Los Angeles-based shop specializes in complete restorations

It’s impossible to sugarcoat Workshop 5001’s location. Across the street from the Metro lines that run past Crenshaw, in an industrial section of Los Angeles, the exterior of the shop is non-descript, blending in with the machine shops, towing yards and warehouses that populate the area. A block away, a Ford Police Interceptor is parked so that it blocks traffic to a neighboring street where officers are talking to residents of a homeless settlement.

Step inside Workshop 5001’s doors and a whole other world unfolds. The brick structure that once housed a portable tent business has been lovingly refurbished by 35-year-old Marlon Goldberg, proprietor of Workshop 5001 and a car nut from an early age.

“Creating an environment where the guys who are nutty about these cars feel comfortable bringing their car, leaving it secure… these things were important,” Marlon says.

Marlon’s background is mainly in Porsche dealerships both on the technical and sales sides, but he also has factory experience with Ferrari and Bentley and not long ago, he was operations director at Singer. At the time, the then-fledgling company had just a handful of staff members. Today, his goal is simply to restore and modify his clients’ project cars into machines that stand the test of time. So far, all of those machines happen to be Porsches.

Workshop 5001 Porsche garage 26

“Porsches have always been my main thing, so the business and what we’re doing currently has naturally evolved,” says Goldberg. “But you’ll notice there’re no Porsche posters on my walls. We’ve done nothing with the name of the business or the atmosphere to make ourselves brand-specific.”

The shop is small and most of the small staff, including an ex-IndyCar mechanic, isn’t in when we visit. Yet, George, the veteran “metal guy” is creating a racket, hand-beating the panels of a Porsche 356 B Cabriolet into submission. I consider asking him to stop simply because it’s hard to hear conversation, but in a small shop like this, I understand time is precious and there are deadlines to meet. Workshop 5001 can certainly handle routine maintenance of many cars, but Marlon says full restorations are the shop’s specialty and what it spends the majority of its time working on.

Those restorations are as unique as the clients who commission them. Marlon says his shop’s staying power in a market that’s crowded – too crowded, according to some – is in building cars that differentiate themselves from the others.

“We don’t want to create an assembly line of cookie-cutter hot rod 911s,” says Marlon. “You know, pick your colors, pick which kind of carpet you want, pick your stickers, and we’ll call you when it’s done. Our process is a lot more personalized and clients are involved in many more steps of the build. It’s a much more creative process.”

Workshop 5001 Porsche garage 17

“We’re saying how do we do this car different from anyone else, and that’s a huge challenge. People have been doing hot rod 911s for decades, how do you keep it fresh? I need to build a car right now which is a contrast to what the current look is and I need to build something that’s timeless. We want to build cars that people won’t say ‘oh man, what were they thinking?’ 20 years from now.”

At the time we visited, Workshop 5001’s first build – named simply, No. 1 – is virtually completed. It’s a 1973 911 which was taken back to bare metal and completely restored, complete with a 3.4-liter twin-plug engine, three-way adjustable KW coilover suspension, and a completely custom interior.

No. 2, a ’74 911 that has ditched its original 2.7-liter flat-six from a particularly anemic period in Porsche history for a 3.8-liter mill with Ohlins suspension, a full roll cage, and paintwork that looks similar to Ford’s iconic Grabber Blue sits nearby. The carbon-fiber backed race buckets in the cabin hint that this is no standard grocery-getter. The bare-metal 356, looking much like an automotive S&M participant at the moment, is project No. 3.

What is it about classic Porsches that prompts the kind of over-the-top, multi-hundred-thousand-dollar restorations that businesses like Workshop 5001 provide? Marlon is quick to explain.

“It feels like the rest of the car market revolves around air-cooled 911s,” he says. “The values of these cars have gone up tremendously. People have realized what incredible cars these are and that they’re infinitely serviceable. It’s one of those things that can truly be a family heirloom, where a father owns a car and it goes on to his kid.”

Stay tuned for more from Workshop 5001 as we plan a drive and deeper look at the cars it builds. Also be on the lookout for future versions of Classic Garage, where we profile a different classic car workshop in each installment.

For more information, visit workshop5001.com.

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