17-18 August 2012

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Lot 227

1956 Porsche 356A 1600 Speedster by Karosseriewerk Reutter

  • Chassis no. 82666
  • Engine no. 63133

Sold for $242,000

75 hp, 1,582 cc air-cooled flat four-cylinder engine, twin carburetors, parallel trailing arms, front suspension with laminated torsion bars, rear swing axles with transverse torsion bars, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 82.7"

Titles as 1957.

• Matching-numbers car verified by Porsche Certificate of Authenticity

• Owned by a Porsche factory mechanic since 1967

• Full rotisserie restoration

Americans can thank importer Max Hoffman for the Porsche Speedster. The New York dealer brought 15 special roadsters to the U.S. in 1954, and seeking a competitive price point, he ordered them with bare-bones equipment. The gamble paid off, and the simple Speedster captured the public’s imagination.

The 356 was designed by Ferry Porsche back in 1948, using the Volkswagen platform designed by his father. Lightweight and simple, it was instantly competitive, from hill climbs to long-distance rallying. A Works car won the 1,100 cc class at Le Mans in 1951, and in so doing, it set a pattern that would continue for 60 years, with Porsche producing some of the greatest race cars of the 20th century.

The Speedster took off in the U.S. with 4,243 finding enthusiastic buyers between 1955 and 1959, when the Reutter-bodied roadster was replaced by the more sophisticated Convertible D. This boasted a taller windshield, windup windows, and a respectable top, but it didn’t have the same magic.

The Speedster was simple, and its light weight made it more fun to drive than the Cabriolet. The windshield was cut down and the top curved, and an aluminum side spear made the car appear even lower. Tiny side screens replaced roll-up windows, and the top was minimal. The dashboard was made lighter with revised gauges, a padded lip, and no glove box. Seats were lower and non-reclining.

The car offered today was manufactured on October 15, 1956 and was one of 850 Speedsters sold in the U.S. that year, being delivered to Max Hoffman in New York, as confirmed by the Porsche Certificate of Authenticity. It was sold by Porsche Import Cars in Chicago to a buyer who purchased it for his son. Unfortunately, the son destroyed the transmission, which was removed and some years later delivered to the dealership for an estimate of the cost of a rebuild. The mechanic who disassembled the transmission in 1967 is the car’s present owner. Originally a Porsche factory R&D mechanic, he was brought from Switzerland to work especially on the Carrera four-cam race cars belonging to Porsche Import owner Oliver Schmidt.

The estimate for the transmission rebuild was too much for the owner, who asked the mechanic, “Do you want to buy the car?” Once repaired, the Speedster became the present owner’s weekend car, as he moved to California and continued to work on Porsches. “Nobody restored cars in those days,” he recalled. “I got it running and fixed it up.”

The pressure of customer work always took precedence, but in 1998, the seller eventually began an unhurried restoration of the Speedster. He elected to strip the Porsche to bare metal and completely rebuild his car in every possible regard. His rotisserie restoration was fully documented and photographed, down to pictures of the bare-metal tub on the back of his VW transporter. Porsche enthusiasts will agree that the end result is spectacularly correct. The detailed provenance and unique proven expertise of the restorer ensures that this car is the equal of any Speedster.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

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New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more