15-16 August 2014

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Lot 125

1955 Porsche 356 Pre-A 1500 Continental Cabriolet by Reutter

  • Chassis no. 60719
  • Engine no. 34059

Sold for $330,000

55 bhp, 1,488 cc OHV air-cooled horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine with two Solex 32PBI carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with transverse torsion bars, trailing arms, and telescopic shock absorbers, independent rear suspension with torsion bars, trailing arms, swing axles, and telescopic shock absorbers, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 82.7 in.

  • One of only 228 Continental Cabriolets built in 1955
  • Unique, special-order car with rare accessories, including a Petri steering wheel
  • Three owners from new; matching numbers
  • Freshly restored by a marque specialist
  • Porsche Certificate of Authenticity included

Porsche’s first series-produced 356 Cabriolets appeared in 1950, with Karrosseriewerk Reutter building five examples and Gläser of Dresden issuing another 33. Production amped up the following year, with Reutter assuming all 356 Cabriolet production in 1954 and continuing production through to the end of the 356 series in 1965. As it was both luxurious and expensive, the model enjoyed popularity with touring drivers, and its fixed windshield, multi-layered folding top, and fully bolstered seats made it a comfortable choice for all-day cross-country travel.

By the time that the car offered here left the factory on December 22, 1954, Porsche had sold several hundred Cabriolets, most of them to the U.S. market, which was rapidly becoming the small automaker’s most important source of revenue. Nearly all of them were imported through Max Hoffman’s legendary dealership on Park Avenue in New York City. Hoffman suggested that since American manufacturers were applying stylish names to their products, Porsche coupes and cabriolets delivered in the United States should be named Continental, a name which was applied to the 1955 models. The name quickly caught the attention of Ford Motor Company, which claimed rights to that name for the stateside market. As a result, the gold Continental fender scripts appeared only for that year.

The car offered here was the third-from-last 356 Continental Cabriolet produced in the 1954 calendar year. It is unique in that it was a “paint-to-sample” order, with its original buyer specifying orange paint, a black leather interior, and a black top. Orange would not appear on Porsche’s palette until the 1957 model year, and even then it was only available as an extra-cost Special Order item. To answer the order for this car, Porsche actually had paint manufacturer Lechler create a specific shade of orange, number 916. This Continental Cabriolet was probably the only orange example on the planet when it was shipped across the Atlantic to its original owner in Los Angeles in early 1955.

Nearly 30 years ago, the car was acquired, in rough but mostly complete condition, from its original owner by noted 356 collector Lawrence Redman. It was sent to a Nevada shop for restoration by Craig Stevens, but it remained uncompleted. Redman returned the car home and stored it in a hangar near Oxnard, California, until 2009, when, shortly before his passing, he was persuaded to part with the car by its current owner.

After its purchase, Ed Palmer’s shop in Camarillo, California, took the body down to its bare metal, finding evidence that the car had indeed been originally finished in Orange, as was confirmed by its Certificate of Authenticity from Porsche. The car was purchased with most of its original components, but marque expert Michael Shatz undertook a lengthy search for some missing critical trim items. Most of the correct original parts were eventually found through various sources, with the only exception being the parking brake handle, which was carefully fabricated to match an original piece. Meanwhile, Palmer had completed the necessary bodywork and applied fresh paint in the correct shade.

The car was then completed in Shatz’s shop, with the 1500 Normal engine, transaxle, brakes, and electrical system carefully rebuilt. Autos International rebuilt and reupholstered the original seats in black leather and made up new carpeting, and a new top was made by AI and finished by Conejo Upholstery. The instruments were rebuilt by Palo Alto Speedometer.

The car rides on date-correct 16-inch wheels, mounted with whitewall tires, and it has numerous special accessories, including a multi-band Telefunken radio and an unusual rearview mirror that also houses the radio antenna. Its most intriguing feature, however, is the very rare and expensive Petri “Superb” steering wheel, which was offered as an aftermarket piece to fit both Volkswagens and Porsches. The double rings with their thumb-pegs allowed the driver to control not only the high-low headlamp beams but also the directional signals, displaying the mode via three small indicator lamps built into the hub. This wheel, capped by a lovely Golden Lady hood button, was listed in the 1955 VW accessory catalogue as being priced at 125 Deutschmarks, which was a large sum for its day. Any Porsche owner might have found it tempting, and it is, indeed, the perfect finishing touch for this striking Cabriolet.

This visually arresting Pre-A Continental Cabriolet, complete with a correct tool roll, jack, and manuals, and fitted with one of the most exotic accessories of its day, is now ready to pass to a new owner at the end of its comprehensive five-year restoration. It turned heads when new and it will no doubt do so now whenever it takes to the concours field.

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

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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

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

+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

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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

+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