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Porsche Centre Langley

Porsches built at home: Derek Smith

Ferry Porsche set out to build a car that catered to his lust for a simple, fun, fast and balanced car to weave through German backroads and cruise the autobahn faster than the average truck.  The first 356 prototype was built in what modern enthusiasts would call a shed.  Back then, it was called the engineering department of Porsche AG. Today, if you look in sheds and garages all over the world, you’ll still see people working on their classic Porsches, or even their newest one. 

Porsche was first built in a shed and a lot of them today are either restored, maintained or kept in a similar place.  Why?  because Porsche was born from drivers; people who want to make the car their own and fit their lifestyle.  People like Derek Smith who – for several decades – has spent almost every spare moment in his suburban garage welding, wiring, riveting, cutting and shaping his own version of some very well know Porsche chassis. 

Derek had a career as a corrections officer in his earlier days. While on his time off, he would autocross and road race Porsches that he had built to his own liking.  He has owned so many Porsches over the years that it’s hard to keep track, especially since almost every one of them underwent some sort of modification for racing.  Porsche Centre Langley recently paid Derek’s garage a visit, and the two Porsches that we focused on during our visit were his custom tube chassis 904 racecar and his factory-spec replica of a Porsche 962 racecar. 

Porsche originally built the 962 in 1984 to replace the 956 that was raced in IMSA’s GTP series and widely used in European Group C races well into the early 1990s.  The 904 was one of Porsche’s sweethearts in the mid-1960s and was known for its incredible record of reliability.  The 904 took victories at Le Mans, the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, Targa Florio and even had successful outings at world rally events including Monte Carlo!

It was amazing to see a 962 sitting in a garage right here in Langley, but it was even more incredible to see a man who is still dedicated to perfecting his craft after so many decades of racing and building cars.  We could have stayed for days to hear stories of racing at Westwood in Coquitlam and Mission raceway in the late 80s and early 90s.  Derek piloted his 914-6 cars to several wins on local tracks and even a few national championships in autocross. 

Date Posted: May 22, 2019