Having walked through the doors of countless shops that work on British sports cars, it seems as if an overwhelming majority are small, cramped and packed to the rafters with parts accumulated over the decades. In this respect, Porter Customs is no different than hundreds of other specialty shops around the country. What sets this small gem in Albuquerque apart is that it is housed in what looks like an adobe pueblo – most mechanics prefer architecture from the Quonset hut era – and that the greeter isn’t a receptionist seated behind a desk but a rather large Rottweiler who is as much a part of the scenery as the lifts and tools.
Like many mechanics that specialize in British machinery – think of legends like Joe Curto and Ronnie McLeod among others – David Porter got his start during the Vietnam war where he maintained aircraft for the United States Air Force. A sports car enthusiasts before his tour of duty, he came back to turn a wrench on his own and proceeded to do so on both cars and bicycles. In the heady days of the 70s and 80s when films like American Flyers and Breaking Away were making their way into the general consciousness, Porter began to construct world class bicycles that would soon come to dominate the international racing scene (some of the world’s records that his bicycles set are still records today despite the advent of lighter materials and better aerodynamics) and his Taos Garage Annex was known worldwide for both auto restorations and bicycle manufacturing.
Porter focused on British sports cars throughout his career – known particularly for his work on Big Healeys, Jaguars, MGs and Triumphs – but over the years the quality of both his work and reputation led to an ever more varied array of cars coming through the doors. Not many mechanics who work on such prosaic faire like Sprites, MGAs and GT6s also spend a good portion of their time on Bugattis, Ferraris, Maseratis and an exceedingly rare T26 GSL from Talbot-Lago. It speaks volumes that the small, cramped facility is often packed with cars waiting to receive his attentions (one recent day saw three Jaguar XK-series cars show up on the same morning) despite the fact that one man can only work so fast (but get the cars in and out he does) and he always seems to have a steady stream of friends stopping by to say hello.
With cars being sent to the high desert from around the world, Porter manages to stay busy but his restoration work on Big Healeys is always sought out by those seeking quality restorations at an affordable price (presumably this is where low overhead kicks in to his advantage) so its worth calling in advance to check on his availability. Even if you just happen to be passing through its worth stopping by to say hello and give Hopi – the great big Rottweiler – a scratch behind her ears.
Porter Customs. 2909 Arno Street NE. Albuquerque. New Mexico. 87107. 505.352.1378. www.porterscustoms.com