Wednesday, August 1, 2001

Allen Henderson

Flat 6 Magazine

My friend, Allen Henderson, is the founder and president of Westcor, which is a division of Vicor Corporation. Allen tried to get his previous employer involved with Vicor and as a result of those meetings Vicor asked Allen if he was interested in starting up a west coast division for them, which is what he did thirteen years ago. Westcor business utilizes the DC to DC converter made by parent company Vicor and designs and makes total solution power supplies or complete power supplies for a variety of products and markets. They sell their power supplies to Hewlett-Packard, Schlumberger, Boeing, and GE among others. Westcor is roughly a thirty million dollar a year business with about 100 employees. 

Allen Henderson got his first Porsche right after he graduated from Brown University where he received an electrical engineering degree in 1970 and went into the United States Navy. While he was in college, he was in the Naval officer training program, one of his fellow college students had a Porsche. Although Allen didn’t know anything about Porsches he liked the way they looked and decided that he had to have one. His first car was an Irish green 1964 356 C coupe that he paid $2,275 for. He said that he should have bought a better car than the one that he bought. He said a the same time he could have gotten a 356 SC Cabriolet for just $300 more than he paid for his car and the Cabriolet was perfect, but at the time the $300 dollars difference seemed like a lot of money. 

Allen said that while he was driving his new to him Porsche back to the Navy base he heard a funny noise that turned out to be a failing connecting rod bearing. The result was that he had to rebuild the engine as soon as he bought the car. Fortunately for him the fellow who ran the Navy Hobby Shop on the Naval base where he was stationed had worked with his father in a Porsche and Volkswagen repair shop so he helped Allen rebuild his engine. They removed the one rod and went in with crocus cloth and polished the crankshaft and installed a new rod bearing. I cringed when he told me this story, but the engine lasted for several years until he had to rebuild it because of other wear and tear. 

He took the 356 coupe to Spain with him while he was in the Navy for three years and then brought it back to Pensacola, Florida where he was stationed next. Allen was a Navigator of DC Super Constellations in the Navy flying reconnaissance missions. He was in Spain for three years and in Florida for one more year before getting out of the service. After the Navy he returned to college at Duke University to get a Masters in Business. By then he had both the 356 and a 1970 911T Targa, which he bought when he moved back to Pensacola while he was still in the Navy. While he was in graduate school he sold the 911T and replaced it with a 1970 914/6. When he moved to California in 1978 he sold the 914/6, but kept the 356 and moved it to California with him. While he had the 356 he did a restoration went clear though it and repainted the car and completely restored the car, he also did his first complete engine rebuild. 

Soon after he moved to California he sold that first 356C and bought a Grand Prix White 1974 911. He put quite a few miles on this 911 and ended up nursing it along to 115 thousand miles. But, by then the 911 leaked everywhere and used about a quart of oil for each tank of gasoline. In about 1982 he installed a rebuilt 911S engine in his 911, with and auxiliary oil cooler, which made a really nice car out of his 1974 911. He sold his 1974 in 1983 and replaced it later with a 1979 911 Turbo that was a beautiful cinnamon red special order paint. Not too long after he bought the Turbo his wife told him he couldn’t afford it so he sold it so that they could remodel their house. In 1986 he bought a European 356SC sunroof coupe and completely restored during the two years he owned it. He rebuilt the engine and repainted the car its original ruby red and then sold it in 1988 to someone who exported it to Germany. 

In 1991 I found a really nice original 1972 911S at a local swap meet that I almost bought myself. I wanted the car as the basis for a project car and felt that this particular example was probably too nice a car to start with for what I had in mind. I told Allen that I thought it would be a great car for him and he bought it. As with many of his other cars Allen went completely though this car completely disassembling the car and having it repainted. Everything was painted, polished or replaced. Allen took one of our engine overhaul classes and then rebuilt the engine in his 1972 911S. When he bought the car it was an original, silver, non-sunroof coupe with the original paint. The paint was tired and it really needed repainting, but you could tell the cars whole story just by looking at it . The only drawback at all to this car was that it was a four-speed. In addition to all of Allen’s other renovations was the addition of a freshly rebuilt 915 five-speed transmission. 

Next in 1994 Allen found a really nice 1959 356 coupe that Allen has also gone through completely cosmetically and rebuilt the engine and front suspension. He completely disassembled the body and had some friends repaint the metallic silver paint. He then had upholstery completely done by one of the local upholsterers noted for their Porsche work. The car turned out really nice. 

The latest addition to the Henderson stable is a brand new 1999 996 model, that he special ordered as soon as he could place an order for one of the new 911s. His car is a special order paint form the late eighties called: Diamond Blue Metallic, which is actually a misnomer, the car is of a violet than a blue. To complement the Diamond Blue Metallic paint he ordered the space gray interior. Allen’s car has the new three spoke air bag steering wheel, which is much more attractive than the standard four spoke version. He ordered the Tiptronic because it works better with a bad knee that he got from playing Tennis. He ordered the wheel with the standard seventeen inch wheels, and then replaced them with a set of the 18" "Technology wheels" from the narrow body 993. The advantage of these wheels to Allen is that at the time he ordered his 996 they were unsure that they could deliver the eighteens and the fronts are 1/2 inches wider than the similar wheels that are being offered for the 996. This was the first Porsche that Allen had ordered new and he knew exactly how he wanted his car when he sat down to spec it out and he made sure that he got exactly the car he ordered. 

Though Allen would love to have one of the Gmünd built cars and he is up to the restoration, he will probably stick with his forty year old 1959 356 and his 1999 996 model cars forty years apart. 

Allen is married to a Swedish woman and he and his wife, Lena, and daughter, Sara, go back to Sweden to visit every year. Through the Swedish club here in the United States Allen and Lena have gotten to know Lasse Jönsson who has the Porsche-Center in Kalstad Sweden. Part of their visit to Sweden each year includes a visit to the Lasse Jönsson Porsche-Center. Through this association with Lasse Allen has had the opportunity to drive a 959, a Ferrari F40, a 1973 RS and a ride in Lasse’s 956. He was supposed to get to drive both the 956 and Lasse’s SuperCup car last summer at a local race track, but it rained and spoiled their fun. Lasse Jönsson has a website that is

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