Cal Poly Motor Car Association was awarded a $9,000 grant from the Collectors Foundation to help its Electric Porsche Project.
Cal Poly Motor Car Association was awarded a $9,000 grant from the Collectors Foundation to help its Electric Porsche Project.

Cal Poly Motor Car Association (CPMCA) was recently awarded a grant by the Collectors Foundation that will help fund a significant portion of its Electric Porsche Project.

Since the Electric Porsche Project started last year, CPMCA has been applying for grants to fund the restoration and rebuilding of the vehicle. The recent grant of more than $9,000 will help pay for a majority of the interior, exterior and engine restoration — equalling approximately 50 percent of the project’s cost, according to CPMCA President Sam Cates.

“We immediately started to build publicity for the project, so we could get bigger players to help us with funding,” Cates said. “We started to apply for grants in February in hopes that one would find interest in our project.”

The Collectors Foundation took an immediate interest in CPMCA’s project. The Foundation is an educational grant-making organization funded by vehicle collectors and classic boat enthusiasts to serve youth development and long-term interests in the collector vehicle and classic boat communities, Collectors Foundation President and CEO Bob Knechel said.

Knechel personally reviews all applications and remembered CPMCA’s grant application. He said he was impressed with the professional look of the whole application and is interested to see the outcome of the project.

“(CPMCA) sent me pictures of the Porsche and the students did a great job of presenting the material,” Knechel said. “The business plan was very detailed; the pictures looked great. Everything was done well all-around.”

The Electric Porsche Project team crafted a well-rounded proposal because members of the CPMCA come from all majors, Cates said. The team consists of business administration majors, engineers and even a veterinary science student. Having a wide variety of majors is beneficial and helps focus on every aspect of the car, Cates said. The graphic design-oriented majors help with the visual appearance of the car, marketing students focus on getting sponsorships and the engineers focus on the mechanics.

“Having a diverse group helps us cover all aspects of this restoration; it is much like the real world,” Cates said. “We all tend to learn a lot for each other. I have learned more about cars and the mechanics while working with students.”

Though working on the Porsche is an excellent learning opportunity for students, Cates and CPMCA have a final goal of finishing the Porsche by 2013 so the team can compete in Speed Ventures’ REFUEL Races at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey.

The REFUEL Races are held annually and feature electric cars and motorcycles to showcase the new and cutting-edge technology used in the motor industry.

“We want to enter and compete to prove to ourselves, as car enthusiasts, that the words ‘electric’ and ‘hybrid’ don’t necessarily mean the car is slow,” Cates said. “Working on this project is timely and appropriate in the grand scheme of the motor industry. We are learning a practical skill that can be applied to current trends.”

The Electric Porsche Project is also helping prepare the students for careers in the motor industry. To assist with this, Guy Ober, co-owner of SGS Motorsports on Higuera Street, has offered CPMCA both advice and resources.

“The whole local Porsche club has been very enthusiastic in helping with the project,” Ober said. “Getting the grant is a great thing. (CPMCA) has had a lot of ideas, but they stuttered out due to lack of funds.”

Ober said he is excited to continue working with Cates and CPMCA. He has given them technical assistance, taught them the Porsche philosophy and said he enjoys working with a lively group of motor enthusiasts.

“This is a classic Cal Poly program,” Ober said. “There is so much talent and knowledge within this team. This is a great example of how to blend it all together.”

With the help of Ober and the Collectors Foundation grant, CPMCA is bringing many of its ideas to fruition. The grant money will fund all-new seats, a dashboard, custom vinyl for the exterior and updating the already existing electric engine, Cates said.

Work on the Porsche is moving along, and Cates said he wants reiterate that the club is open to the entire university. CPMCA allows students the opportunity to view, work on the cars and give input for future projects. It is an excellent learning experience for those who want to pursue careers in the motor industry, he said.

“On behalf of the Cal Poly Motor Car Association, I am extremely thankful for the generosity and support from the Collectors Foundation,” Cates said. “To us, this grant represents so much more than funds. It represents the beginning of seeing a vision turn into reality and a validation of what we’re trying to accomplish. Now we have the means to do something big.”

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