Rare Porsche creates unique bond

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Long Beach resident Bill Tripodi, right, owns this 1962 Porsche Roadster, which was once owned by Gary Burtsell of Rossmoor, until 1968. Courtesy photo

Two Seal Beach Car Show participants find friendship in common vehicle

Car collectors don’t often need any other reason to form friendships other than the cars they love to collect, restore and share. When the Seal Beach Car Show opens on Saturday, Main Street will be filled with people who share a fondness for classic cars.

But there will be one car that was far more than a conversation piece for two collectors. This car brought two people together and formed a friendship by a strange coincidence that took nearly 50 years to connect.

Long Beach resident Bill Tripodi has been bringing his Porsche cars to the show for many years. Four years ago, he was at the show with his 1963 Porsche 356, when he heard two men talking about the cars. Gary Burtsell of Rossmoor was telling his son-in-law about a similar car that he had in the ’60s, telling him that it was a Roadster, with Red Interior.

As it turned out, Bill had recently bought a 1962 Roadster and had it at his home. Bill and Gary struck up a conversation and realized that Bill had bought the car from a family in Manhattan Beach, which was near where Gary had lived and sold the car. They decided to have Gary come check out the car.

At first, he didn’t think it was the same car because it had changed (the wheels were different), but after checking the records, they determined that the original owner who had sold the car to Gary, was listed as the same one of the records Bill had obtained. After selling the car in 1968, Gary was reconnected with the vehicle, just a few miles from his current home.

“I was blown away,” Gary said.

In a separate interview, Bill echoed nearly the same sentiment.

“We were just blown away by the coincidence of it,” Bill said.

At the time of him selling the car, Gary and his wife were getting ready to take a trip to Wyoming with their infant daughter, in the summer, and needed a car with a back seat and air conditioning. According to Bill, there were only 248 of these Roadsters built in 1962 and the only year made with a twin grill on the engine hood.

They are rare collectables now, though Bill and Gary argue about most rare. Gary thinks there are Porsches’ in the 60 series that are more valuable. Bill thinks the twin grills, are the more valuable. Car guys?

Still, the car created a friendship. They kept in touch. In the following years, Bill brought the Roadster and Gary and his wife, Liz, were able to take a picture in their former car. Liz passed away in late 2018 and Gary and his wife, Terry attended the service.

On Saturday, both will be in the car show. Bill is bringing the Roadster, while Gary is bringing his 1968 Camaro. It is the car his wife and he bought to take to Wyoming, and he is still the only owner. In fact, Gary bought 20 spaces for other members of his Camaro Car Club, so in the large field of Camaros, his will be the one that is “Island Teal” in color.

Gary says that the Porsche is still special to him, more so since the passing of his wife. At least he knows it’s in good hands.

“It’s meaningful because of my wife,” Gary said.

Bill said he has always had an eye for classic Porsches. However, he never expected to have one create a friendship in the way that this one has. One day, he may sell it back to Gary, but for now, it has helped bring some closure to Gary.

“I’ve always felt he had and attachment to that car,” Bill said.