Text and photos by Barry Lee Brisco
Many 356ers use the Optima battery in their cars due to its ability to hold a charge even when the car is not driven for months at a time and the fact that the sealed gel cell design means zero acid spillage. However, the non-standard shape of the battery means it does not always readily fit into a 356 if one wants to use the stock setup for restraining the battery.
Linus Pauling has devised an excellent system for installing a 6V Optima, and Bob Morris and Jim Hawley have also developed tie-down methods that work well. I have found that a simplified version of Linus's approach works very well in my T2 coupe, and would probably be quite suitable for T5 cars as well.
I made both pieces of Linus's setup — the bottom plate with the cutouts, and the top plate with two holes for the battery posts — but found that the bottom plate raised the height of the battery to the point where it was extremely difficult to secure the spring clips onto the stock battery cover. So I simply didn't use it, as the top plate fits snugly under the stock battery cover, which has plenty of downward pressure to keep the battery from shifting. See the photos below. Note that the ground strap needed to be brought forward to fit under the cover, but one could cut a notch into the right side of the top plate to bring it out that side. Also, I didn't see the need to finish the top plate (which was cut from 1/4" masonite board) with any varnish or sealers, since the battery box area is reasonably watertight. I rarely drive my car in the rain anyway!