Sonne Porsche
Newsletter August 2000 Articles

How PCA-Hawaii Began
An Interview with Hiko Uyesato
 
by Chip Hughes

Imagine “Porschawaii” consisting of entirely 356 owners -- with their throaty “A” coupes, Carrera convertibles, Continentals, and 1600 Speedsters. Imagine buying one of these beauties from the islands’ only authorized Porsche dealer (not Ala Moana, McKenna, Cutter, or Theo Davies), Volkswagen Pacific on Ala Moana, then later a place on Kapiolani called Love Thomas. Imagine annual PCA dues, including PORSCHE PANORAMA, only $16! That’s the way it was for a dozen or so diehard Porsche enthusiasts who chartered our club in 1959. Recently I visited with one of PCA’s first members in the islands and a founder of the Hawaii Region: Hikoharu Uyesato. We talked in a spacious garage attached to KAP Auto Parts in Kaneohe. The auto parts business occupies one of several buildings on his property near the corner of Kam and Likelike Highways, including a 7-Eleven store, Aloha Gas, and his own residence.

“Originally [in the 1930s and ‘40s] this was my father’s business and a little gas station and grocery store in the front,” explains Hiko Uyesato. “After the war, things began to change -- the highway and new sub-divisions. So when I took over, I started this new business: gas station, tire store, and car wash. Later on I said, ‘I’m going to stop.’ [From then on I] only worked at parts store.” Retired now, Hiko rents out the commercial space on his property, while retaining possession of the parts store garage for his cars.

Today this garage contains two vintage German automobiles -- an ivory ‘73 Porsche 911T and a yellow ‘74 VW Beetle -- with ample room for several more. Over the years, many Porsches have lived here. The garage is full of memories. “At one time I had this place all full of cars,” says Hiko. “I had the opportunity. Someone said ‘you want to buy this?’ and, you know, I said, ‘O.K., I’ll buy it.’”

Hiko Uyesato first saw a Porsche automobile in Germany in 1952. It was a 1950 coupe, 1100 c.c. He really liked the shape of the car. That famous Porsche shape stuck with him upon his return to Hawaii. It haunted him for several years until, finally, he had to have his own. That happened in August, 1957. From a service man at Hickham Air Force Base, Hiko bought a slightly used 356A 1600 Super Coupe.

There was no PCA region in the islands in 1957, but Hiko begin seeing a few other 356s around O‘ahu and slowly started meeting their owners. Ted Fukuda, for example, had bought his ‘57 silver 1600 Super Coupe at the factory in Germany, shipped it from New York, drove across country, and then put the car back on a boat to Hawaii. Hiko joined forces with Ted and a handful of other Porsche owners, about a dozen in all, and began meeting informally in 1958 and ‘59.

In these early years there were lots of activities, especially racing at Kahuku on an abandoned World War II air strip and at Haleiwa on what is now a glider launch and landing site. Hiko showed me some vintage PORSCHE PANORAMAs with cover photos from races at Kahuku and Haleiwa -- Speedsters and 356s kicking up dust on the old airstrips. Then he hauled out Christophorus magazines from 1955 and ‘56 which also featured articles about Hawai‘i. One photo showed a 550 Spyder racing at Kahuku driven by Teta Richards. It’s one of the cars that eventually filled Hiko’s garage of memories.

“I myself bought “Teta”(Loretta) Richards 550 Spyder without the engine,” he said. “She blew up the engine and just sold me the car . . . . [It had]one of the original 4-cam engines that came out in ‘54 or ‘55 [and was] first installed in this type of car and also in Roadster and Speedster.” Over the years Hiko has owned several vintage Porsches in addition to this ‘54 Spyder 550 -- a ‘55 Continental convertible, ‘59 356A 1600 convertible (originally owned by Dr. Linus Pauling, Jr.), ‘57 Speedster, ‘63 356B Carrera coupe, ‘67 912, and his present car,the ivory ‘73 911T Sportamatic with 21,000 ORIGINAL miles! (Read and weep!)

Hiko Uyesato, Hawaii’s first PCA member, and his prized ‘73 911T.

By 1959, the now tightly-knit group of Porsche owners in Hawai‘i realized that they could form their own region of the PCA. They applied and were granted a charter. Says Hiko: “I think as the membership grew, somebody mentioned about the formation of the club. There was enough interested, somebody was in charge, said to apply for membership as a membership. Dr. [Paul] Hoe was the first president . . . .”

“It’s a different kind of club [now] than the originally,” says Hiko. “The original purpose of the early period [was that we] lacked technical information. You wanted to get information. Beginning of the national organization was the same way. Today you get the dealers doing all the work . . . .”

When I asked him if he worked on the many Porsches he has owned, Hiko replied, “Just the simple ones. Not the 4-cam engines.” He certainly had no shortage of parts. “At one time in the early period I was so much into Porsche that I acquired all these kinds of replacement parts for 356 body portions. Brand new parts. I bought this from a fellow . . . . When the local dealer gave up the 356 and got rid all these parts he said, ‘Do you want to buy any of these parts cheap?’ So I bought them all. Then finally about 1980, somebody from Australia heard I had all these parts and came and bought them all from me, took them back too Australia.”

Hiko no longer owns a 356, just the pristine, all-original 911T. Yes, it’s gorgeous. “That’s the last Porsche I bought,” he says. “I’m just a custodian of this collector’s piece. Someday I’ll have to sell because of my age. It should go to somebody who wants to keep it,” not sell it off for profit. He explains that the Sportamatic 4-speed transmission resembles the standard shift, but with a torque converter and no clutch. For city driving he simply leaves it in second gear; for the open road he would prefer a 5-speed manual. Hiko still drives his ‘73 Porsche occasionally. Otherwise the small twin batteries need regular charging. “If you drive it everyday, it’s gets better . . . .”

After our interview Hiko supplied me with a list of PCA-Hawai‘i’s first members, when they joined, and their cars. That list follows.

PCA Hawaii’s First Members Thru 1959:
Hikoharu Uyesato
Oct. 1957
‘57 356A 1600S Coupe
Dr. Linus Pauling, Jr.
May 1958
‘55 356 Continental Conv.
E.H. Rothermel
July 1958
‘58 356 A 1600 Coupe
John A. Bell
Nov. 1958
‘57 356 A 1600 Coupe
William H. Goodhue   ‘57 356A Speedster
Theodore S. Fukuda
Dec. 1958
‘57 356A 1600S coupe
Paul S. Hoe
April 1959
‘58 356 A 1600 Speedster
Lt. Robert D. Cross    
James U..C. Dye   ‘59 356A 1600 Coupe
Lauriston H. McCogg    
Henry A Walker   ‘58 356A 1600 Speedster
James C. Gibson
June 1959
‘56 Speedster
Capt. Donald J. Norris
Aug. 1959
 
C.J. Fern, Jr.   ‘59 365 coupe (Kaua‘i)
Benard K.C. Chung   Abarth Carrera coupe
Clay Kinne
Oct. 1959
‘57 356A coupes
Rowell A. Tyau   ‘55 Speedster
Carl R. Hoffman    

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