Guest contributor: Eric Chan on his visit to vintage Porsche shop Benton’s Performance
It’s Saturday morning, and my first time visiting John Benton’s shop at Benton Performance. I was dropping off my ’69 912 for him to look at a few minor things. A reputable master in 912 and vintage Porsche circles, he greeted me with his famous friendliness in spite of previously having met me all of exactly once.
He opened the shop for me and didn’t fail to impress by showing me the storage warehouse first. Nine vintage Porsches tucked away inside an unassuming business park warehouse. From a Concours-ready 356 to a rare golden lime green-colored pre-’69 short wheelbase 911, it was awesome. Seeing a hundred Porsches at a meet or show is one thing; having a dozen of them quietly sleeping in a serene warehouse just gives you a different emotional feeling.
Moving onto his shop area, there was a customer’s 912 project, a perfect condition crystal blue 912, and THE Bentonmobile: a ’68 twin spark 912 in ivory white. In between conversations, he would casually start the cars and move them out of the shop area. I must have missed a lot of what he was saying during those moments because I was lost in the heavenly symphony of flat sixes and fours. A heavy duty lift system lay on the floor— John’s plan for that day was to install it.
We then walked over to the engine and transmission room while I eyed a set of widened steelies on the shop floor, wondering what exactly they were. A flat-four engine lay open on a stand while a collection of small metal parts hung carefully organized on the wall. Moving on to the distributor and carburetor room I noticed the Benton Performance “B” logo on the wall, and that’s a money shot right there with its proud founder and owner.
Of course I had to go back to the warehouse to look at the cars again and he allowed me to spend time in there to shoot photos to my heart’s content. A perfect condition ivory white SWB 912 with Houndstooth interior was for sale. Another perfect-looking root beer-colored 912 sat next to it. A golden lime green 911 looked like it was mid-restoration. And the Concours-condition 356 – a 356 B, I think – sat right in front of it. As the saying goes, I was like a kid in a toy store.
Forty or so shots later, another customer stopped by in his ’69 sand beige 912. I figured I had taken up too much of John Benton’s morning already while he still had his uninstalled lift lying around and now another customer to tend to. But then he suggested we all go get lunch and before I knew it, I was inside his ’68 twin spark 912— in the driver’s seat!
Our now-party of five took three 912s to a nearby eatery, and I had a blast driving the Bentonmobile, which sounded awesome even in street mode and felt super solid and immediate!
From having the car in for some servicing to an impromptu mini vintage Porsche get-together and drive with some cool people, I guess that’s the human touch that John Benton has and, above even his mastery of all things Porsche, which he excels at the most.
Images © Eric Chan