Barry Allen's story on Leon Robertson:
Kind of an interesting side story regarding Leon Robertson:

"20+ years ago I was living in South Sacramento and restoring a '59 Porsche 356A for my fiancee.  I had a neighbor around the corner that was DEEP into Model T's -- in the course of a conversation with him one day he said his son knew a guy who had a couple of old Porsches stuck in a warehouse, and wondered if I'd like to meet him.  Never one to turn down an
opportunity, I said sure; a couple of weeks later, the fellow called (turned out to be Leon Robertson) and we made arrangements to get together to look at his cars.

Leon had me meet him at the gate of the old Sacramento city dump (!)-- he had apparantly run a sand and gravel business on the Sacramento River for years, dredging aggregate from the sandbars just downstream from what later became the California State Fairgrounds location (Cal Expo) until he was shut down by the EPA and California Water Management folks sometime in the early 70's; the land he retained along the river wound up being surrounded
by the city landfill.

We drove across the landfill site and down into a "hollow" along the river where there were several small warehouse and shop buildings, a number of trucks and a couple of old US Air Force ambulance busses (these were kind of unique in their own way - they looked like school buses, but had squared off rears with two big vertical doors - during the Vietnam war, the Air Force met medivac planes with them, transferred stretchers from the planes to racks in the busses and transported the wounded soldiers to hospitals).   Leon said he' d bought the busses at surplus intending to conver convert them to car haulers just before his aggre- gate business got shut down -- when the business went away, so did his racing budget.

Inside one of the buildings were some very interesting items -- several shelves of random parts including some 356 Porsche Carrera 4 cam stuff, a very intact Speedster body with no running gear that Leon said he'd converted to Carrera running gear at one point, then started converting back to normal pushrod stuff but never finished, and a battered roadster that I didn't recognize at first.  The roadster turned out to be the REAL find.

Leon said he'd followed up on an newspaper classified ad several years earlier for an early Porsche 5 speed transmission -- the seller said it was still in the car,  so he went to look at it.  The car was far too old to have a 5 speed, so Leon said he offered the guy a "few hundred dollars" for the whole car, bought it and trailered it back to Sacramento.  Long story short, the car was one of less than a dozen and a half aluminum bodied 356 America Roadsters that Porsche built in 1952 and 53 prior to starting Speedster production.

As fortune would have it, there had been an article published a few months earlier in the Porsche Club of America's club magazine (Panorama)  that traced the history of the America Roadsters, and identified all the known serial numbers (the cars were not built in sequence, so the chassis numbers were scattered through two years of cabriolet production).  There was apparantly some question as to exactly how many "production" cars were made, with 15 known serial numbers, reports of 16 cars built, and a few photos of a couple of cars with some design discrepancies that might or might not have been considered part of the run.  

When I got back home from Leon's shop, I dug out the magazine and looked up the chart -- Leon's America Roadster was NOT on the list, and had a chassis number ONE digit above the highest number listed - this was the "missing" 16th car!

The Roadster was in fairly rough, lumpy condition (it had been raced for several years at some point), was missing it's original engine and had had the windshield posts cut down, but was otherwise essentially intact and virtually rust free.  Even as it sat, this was a hugely valuable car (even in 1980), and I knew that there was no way I'd be able to afford to buy and restore it, so I called Leon and brought him up to speed on what he had -- I later heard that the car was sold, restored, and at some point in the last 10 years changed hands for a price somewhere well into 6 figures.

I still have the photos I took that day - I can scan 'em and send them along if you're interested......  (Please do!!!  TM)

Barry J. Allen
Fair Oaks CA

PS - As you may know, George Grinzewitsch ultimately became an EXTREMELY successful
Mercedes Benz dealer in Sacramento..........

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