1955 Porsche 356 Speedster

Inspired by the rare Gläser-bodied 356 America roadster, Porsche’s 356 Speedster was spurred into existence by the influential New York automobile importer Max Hoffman, who perceived that sufficient demand existed for a less expensive, no-frills open Porsche model. Stuttgart’s Reutter Karosserie revised the 356 America’s original body styling and devised the Speedster’s signature high-waisted body style, which quickly became one of Porsche’s most celebrated design cues. Retaining the 356 America’s ‘Type 540’ internal designation, the sleeker Reutter-built 356 Speedster debuted in 1954 and brought the joys of Porsche ownership to a wider audience. Exuding an adventurous, avant-garde flair, the Speedster featured a racy cut-down removable windscreen, simple bucket seats, and a low-profile soft top and side curtains for weather protection. Instruments consisted only of a speedometer and temperature gauge, with a tachometer and heater optional, holding the price just under $3,000 when the Speedster debuted at New York.

Envisioned as a vehicle capable of being driven daily then taken to the track, quickly prepared, and successfully raced on weekends, the Speedster immediately built a formidable reputation on American racetracks in SCCA competition with sharper acceleration and handling. Exemplifying the wonderful dual-purpose nature of the Speedster, Erich Bücklers drove the Road & Track magazine test car to victory in a 1,500-cc sports-car race at California’s Willow Springs racetrack just a few days before the magazine’s road test. Ideally suited for American SCCA competition, the 356 Speedster was devastatingly effective and an unqualified “giant killer” with the era’s top amateur drivers and rising stars behind the wheel, with the Speedster out-braking out-handling the competition with remarkable ease everywhere it appeared.

On the road, the Speedster’s ultra-modern attitude made it an instant hit from its launch in 1954 with buyers and an enduring classic that continues to captivate successive generations of Porsche enthusiasts today. A July 1955 Motor Trend magazine road test report neatly summarized the Speedster experience particularly well, stating “Its size, power, easy shift, and steering make it fun to drive...The brakes are extremely good...they get you out of situations where you may have delayed too long...For a sports car, and especially such a small one, the Porsche Speedster has a very smooth ride...There’s absolutely no wallowing when it comes out of a dip.”

Only some 200 Speedsters were initially produced, but strong demand meant production exceeded 1,000 examples in 1955. Late that year, the 356 series design received its first major revision to improved 356A specification, with the cars further removed from their early Volkswagen-based mechanical roots. The early 356 models built through 1955 are often retrospectively called "Pre-A" by marque enthusiasts, and they occupy a particularly special place in Porsche’s glorious history. Annual 356 Speedster production eventually peaked at 1,416 units in 1957 and just 2,922 were built in total.

A simply fabulous example of the iconic 356 Speedster, this highly desirable early “Pre-A” model from 1955 is accompanied by a corresponding Porsche Certificate of Authenticity confirming original details. It continues to benefit most handsomely from a superbly preserved and well-detailed restoration completed during the 1990s. The recipient of an AACA Senior National First Prize award, which speaks to the quality and accuracy of the restoration, this Speedster remains in excellent order throughout. Finished in its originally specified and excellent Red paint over Black leatherette-covered bucket seats and oatmeal carpets as originally equipped, it is accented by excellent brightwork and details including beehive taillights, chrome bumper overriders and headlamp stone guards. The crisp, finely preserved interior is in excellent order, and features a proper Sonnendeck canvas top accompanied by matching canvas side curtains in a vinyl stowage bag. In addition to the aforementioned Porsche Certificate of authenticity, this iconic and immensely collectible early 356 Speedster is accompanied by a factory tool roll which resides in the well-detailed trunk.

Power is delivered by a period-correct Type 546/2 1500 cc engine, which is well detailed with correct markings and hardware. While output is modest, the sublime balance and minimal weight afford superb handling and braking ability. From the skimpy bucket seats, to the classic ivory two-spoke wheel, the minimalist cockpit of the Speedster is all about pure unfettered driving pleasure.

A wonderful example of the eminently desirable Porsche 356 Speedster, it is ready for show display or classic touring enjoyment along your favorite stretch of winding B-road.

 

Offers welcome and trades considered

 

$385,000

Stock number 7337

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