28-29 January 2016
1958 Porsche 356 A Speedster by Reutter
- Chassis no. 83895
- Engine no. 744333
Sold for $295,000
- Very rare and desirable late T2 Speedster from the last year of production
- Reported to have only three owners from new
- Upgraded with a 912 engine with 356 A appointments, for a stock appearance
- Desirable color combination of Meisen Blue with Navy interior and top
Porsche’s iconic 356 Speedster first appeared in 1954 after U.S. distributor Max Hoffman convinced the factory that it needed a product with which to compete with lower-cost British imports. What Porsche delivered was a bare-bones roadster with a base price of just under $3,000, which was exactly what Hoffman needed to get customers in the door. Unlike the luxurious 356 Cabriolet, with its fixed windshield and numerous comfort features, the Speedster was very basic, with side curtains instead of roll-up door glass, a removable windshield, ventilated thin-shell non-reclining bucket seats, and little else—though a lot of fun.
It was a true dual-purpose sports car. Owners could readily use their Speedsters for everyday transportation and then drive to the track on weekends, remove the bumpers, top, windshield, floor mats, and other trim, tape on some numbers, and go racing. Speedsters offered excellent performance due to their light weight, and they soon established themselves as the cars to beat. Speedsters remained competitive well into the 1970s and 1980s, winning many national championships in the U.S. and Europe. By the time T2 Speedster production wound down in 1958, only 1,129 examples had been built, and that group is considered to be the most modern and drivable today.
According to its owner, a knowledgeable marque specialist, this late-production 1958 Speedster was originally owned by a Volkswagen dealer in Natchez, Mississippi. In late 1988, it was acquired by a very persistent admirer after 15 years of pursuit and was then painstakingly restored to its original condition over a five-year period, as featured in an article by Robert Stroud in Volume 19 of the 356 Registry.
In its current long-term ownership, reported to be only the third since new, the car’s engine was upgraded to one from a later Porsche 912, using a counterweighted crankshaft and correct Super 90/SC 912 Solex carburetors with correct factory air cleaners. The surrounding sheet metal, starter, generator fan shroud, oil filler and filter, etc., are all original 356, allowing this engine to resemble that of a 356 A to the naked eye. The result is a wonderfully “stock” appearance but with a 25 percent increase in power over the original!
More recently, the car has been beautifully refinished in Meisen Blue with a Navy top and interior and OEM tan square-weave carpeting. It is enhanced by a pair of correct OEM USA full bumpers, with overriders in both front and rear and a set of chrome wheels with matching year-correct hubcaps. In addition, the Speedster features a chrome driver’s side-view mirror, U.S.-specification body-colored bumpers, and a correct factory-specification muffler with through-the-bumper exhaust elbows. Inside the Spartan cockpit is a beautifully refinished Meisen Blue dashboard with correct VDO gauges, including a date-coded 1958 tachometer converted to electric operation and a properly restored Nardi wooden steering wheel with correct horn button. The car is accompanied by not only an original jack but also an original factory OEM tool roll with tools.
A rocket offered in excellent running condition by a knowledgeable enthusiast, this car is certainly one of the most complete, correct, and entertaining 356 Speedsters available today, and it promises to offer limitless entertainment to its lucky new driver.
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