18 January 2013

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Lot 111

1955 Porsche 356 Speedster by Reutter Karosserie

  • Chassis no. 80745

Sold for $170,500

55 hp, 1,488 cc air-cooled flat four-cylinder engine with twin Solex 32 PBI carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with parallel trailing-arms and laminated torsion bars, rear swing axles with transverse torsion bars, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 82.7 in.

• Impressive triple black color combination

• Correct engine compartment and fully detailed chassis

• Partial restoration, including a new top, side curtains, and carpet

• Desirable Speedster model

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, and as a works car, it won the 1,100-cubic centimeter class at Le Mans in 1951. In so doing, it set a pattern that would continue for 60 years, producing some of the greatest race cars of the 20th century.

However, Americans have importer Max Hoffman to thank for the Porsche Speedster. The New York dealer brought 15 Special Roadsters to the U.S. in 1954. Seeking a competitive price point, he ordered them with bare-bones equipment. The gamble paid off, and the Speedster captured the public’s imagination—at an affordable base price of $2,995.

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 Speedster literally took off in the U.S., with 4,144 finding enthusiastic buyers between 1954 and 1958. The venerable Speedster was a fixture at American tracks in the 1950s, driven by anybody who was anybody, from importer John Von Neumann, to future F1 world champion Dan Gurney and meteoric movie star James Dean. Skip Hudson was black flagged when lying 3rd at the 1955 Torrey Pines races and had to explain to the judges that he didn’t have to slow down for the corners because he could four-wheel drift around them.

In 1959, the Reutter-bodied Speedster was replaced on the street by the more sophisticated Convertible D. They boasted a taller windshield, windup windows, and a respectable top that fit better and didn’t give the impression of peering out of a mailbox. But, ultimately, it didn’t have the same magic.

The car offered today was one of 1,233 Speedsters sold in the U.S. from 1954–1955. While not numbers matching, it is described as fully sorted and a strong-running car. This Speedster is now handsomely finished in triple black and has a new top, side-curtains, and carpet. The engine compartment is affirmed to be an absolutely correct 1,488-cubic centimeter engine with twin Solex 32 PBI carburetors, an air tube, and an intake manifold. The chassis has been detailed, and a new battery box has been installed as well.

A lovingly restored and authentic 356 Speedster, this Porsche is well-suited for the true driving enthusiast and would make for an essential addition to any comprehensive sports car collection. A very rare car, it is a sheer pleasure to drive and will continue to remain highly collectable.

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

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

+1 617 513 0388
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

+1 954 566 2209
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

+1 519 352 4575
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

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
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

+1 717 623 1638
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

+1 805 231 6410
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

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
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

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
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

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
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

+1 519 784 9300
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