Celebrating 50 Years of Porsche Club of America, Hawai‘i Region

Below you will find interviews with three founding members—Bernard K.C. Chung, Hiko Uyesato, and Joe Dizon—who discuss the origins of our club, its evolution, and significant milestones along the way.

Where It All Began:  The First Meeting of PCA-Hawai‘i
Recollections of Bernard K.C. Chung

The first formal meeting of Porsche owners in Hawai‘i took place in Autumn 1958 at the Kalama Beach waterfront home of Rufus Longmeyer on Kailua Bay.  Approximately fifteen Porsches pulled up to Longmeyer’s home driven by early enthusiasts of the German marque in the islands:  Loretta “Teta” Richards,  Gilbert Geer, Rod Minford, Ted Fukuda, Hal Rothermel, Bill Goodhue, Stuart McCoombs, Bernard Chung himself, and others (see list of participants).   Bill Goodhue and Hal Rothermel were the two principal organizers.  Both were engineers from the mainland who had heard of Porsche clubs there.  They urged the group of Hawai‘i Porsche owners to join PCA national and become a region.  Not everyone agreed.  Several in attendance wanted to organize locally, to keep their money here and spend it directly on activities of the Hawai‘i Porsche owners.  Stu McCoombs, a pilot and advertising agency owner, was one of these.  This difference of opinion among the two factions delayed the group from joining PCA national until 1959.  The first two presidents were Bill Goodhue and Hal Rothermel. 

          A second meeting was held in December 1958 at the dealership of Don McKay on Ala Moana Boulevard.  Don Mckay was the earliest Porsche dealer in the islands.  He started his dealership selling VWs from a grass shack off Kapiolani near Keeaumoku.  He didn't even stock cars, but would have them brought in for customers. Other dealers tried to sell his line.  Later he also imported Porsches upon special order for customers, but didn’t stock them at first.  He imported a red Super Coupe for Rufus Longmeyer and a Speedster for Henry Walker.  Other ways to pick up a car were to go to Germany, or contract with American Express as agent to buy the car in Stuttgart and transport it here.  Or buy through Johnny von Neumann on the West Coast -- who sold James Dean his Spyder.

 Bernard Chung’s other recollections on the early years:

          The first Porsche in the islands was brought in by Calvin Ching -- a ‘52 1300 coupe in blue.  Stanley Tom owned the first “B’ coupe in white, Teta Richards owned and raced a  ‘55 550 Spyder.  Somebody named Jenkins bought at the factory -- via American Express as agent -- a ‘56 coupe.  Linus Pauling, Jr. owned a ‘54 cab and Val Ausipoff, the architect, a ‘55 cab and many other Porsches -- ‘60 cab, 912, etc.  Gilbert Geer raced a ‘56 356 pre-A.

Attending the First Meeting of PCA-Hawai‘i,  Autumn 1958:

Rufus Longmeyer:  ‘59 Super Coupe  
Jimmy Gibson:  ‘56 Speedster 1600  
Gil Geer:  ‘56 Carrera Speedster 
Rod Minford:  ‘58 1600 coupe 
Bernard Chung:  ‘55 1300 coupe 
Ted Fukuda:  ‘57 Super coupe 
Hal Rothermel:  ‘58 coupe 
Bill Goodhue:  ‘57 Speedster 
Teta Richards:  ‘55 550 Spyder
Hal Melany:  ‘58 Speedster 1600 
Stuart McCoombs:  ‘56 1600 coupe 

How PCA-Hawai‘i Began
An Interview with Hiko Uyesato

          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!)

          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
1Lt. 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
Cpt. Donald J. Norris Aug. 1959  
C.J. Fern, Jr.   ‘59 365 coupe (Kaua‘i)
Bernard K.C. Chung   Abarth Carrera coupe
Clay Kinne Oct. 1959 ‘57 356A coupes
Rowell A. Tyau   ‘55 Speedster
Carl R. Hoffman    

An Interview with Past President, Joe Dizon

          Joe Dizon served as president in the late 60s and early 70s.  What follows are Joe’s recollections as told to me at his Lanikai home, whose front yard boasts no fewer than four or five (I lost count) 356s, gracefully rounded humps under tan and gray car covers.  Joe says he bought his house with the sale of just one Porsche—a prized 356 Speedster!

          “I was the only guy back then who loved Speedsters. Everybody thought I was nuts.  The said, ‘You’re going to get all wet,’ because there were no side windows and no wind wings.  But I just loved the design.  To me it was stolen out of nature, or something. I still love them.  We bought two right her in Kailua at the Volkswagen dealer because nobody wanted them.  I bought one for $300.  It was hit in the back.  I took it to the shop and they put on a brand new back end. It cost another $300 to fix it.  Then I sold it and bought this house.

          “I came on the scene in ’59, didn’t belong to the club then, but I started owning Porsches.  One of the first club presidents was Dr. Paul Hoe, an orthodontist.  Some of the earliest members were Bernard Chung, a contractor, Ed Fukuda, a jet fighter pilot, Rolly Tyau, a Speedster owner, and Jim Drake, who built swimming pools.  I was president for four years in the late 60s and early 70s.  I took over for Paul Hoe.  Ron Halfhill took over for me. Then Jim Drake.  After four years as president I got burnt out doing the newsletter, composing it, printing it, and doing the books, and everything else.

          “We held the meetings in libraries and in people’s houses, including Bones Marshall’s place at Hickham. We had tech sessions, racing films, Porsche movies (“Porsche Made by Hand”), lectures by factory reps and distributors.  We had banquets and dinners.  Sometimes we met at a Japanese tea house—a big tea-house in the middle of a spring.  We also met in Chinese restaurants and ate several course dinners.  What gets members out is a tech session.  You’ve got to get an expert. Talk about a carburetor.  The secret (in the 356 motor) is the flood level on the carb. If it’s too high, you’re over the falls. Too low and you’re starving for gas. There’s a trick to it . . . .

          “Our first concours was held at the Makaha Inn.  It started with a parade through Waikiki.  We had a ‘Porsche Queen,” a beautiful queen sitting on one of the cars.  We wore German helmets with spikes and ribbons.  We had a rally to the concours, then driving contests, swimming pool parties with drinks, hotel rooms, dinner, with a tech quiz after dinner.  The Concours d’Elegance was held in the parking lot of the Makaha Inn up in the valley. I made all the arrangements.  I knew all the high mucky mucks . . . .

          “We had a contest to come up  with a ‘Porschawaii’ logo.  The guy who designed this was Don Cutting in about 1974.  He was an architect.  We had ‘Porschawaii’ badges made of ceramic and brass, with purple, blue, red and green.  During the presidency of Jim Wayman (‘72-’74) the name of the newsletter was changed to SONNE PORSCHE, I guess because Hawai‘i is a sunny place.

          Joe’s prescription for the club’s success is a fitting conclusion to his interview and an encouraging motto for our next 45 years:  “All for one and one for all.”  Special thanks to long-time club stalwarts Bones Marshall and Jim Wayman for their assistance.   (Revised and reprinted from SONNE PORSCHE, June 2000)


Interviews by Chip Hughes


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