NEC Classic Motor Show Sale 2016

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1957 Porsche 356A T1 Speedster

Lot No.: 634

Registration: ASJ 240
Chassis Number: 83099
Engine Number: 64812
Number of cylinders: 4
Year of Manufacture: 1957
Sold for (£): 306,563

As the first serial production car to wear the Porsche name, the 356 was the car that set the company firmly in the direction of building high quality, cleverly engineered sports cars that could punch well above their weight both on the road and at the circuit, a philosophy that has changed little today. The 356 was a relatively simple car that shared its basic layout with the Volkswagen Beetle and utilized a monocoque chassis design and a highly reworked version of the VW’s flat-four cylinder engine slung out behind the rear axle. For his own car, Dr. Porsche dramatically improved the VW engine with new heads, new cam, new crankshaft and other internals, as well as a dual carburetor intake. The result was an engine that revved freely and produced double the horsepower of the Beetle from whence it came. 

True to the Porsche ethos, the 356 was continuously being refined and revised over its 17-year production run without ever really being fully redesigned, and by the end of the run in 1965, horsepower had nearly doubled again from the first 356s. Along with its continual mechanical refinement, the 356 was offered in many different body configurations sourced through a variety of German coachbuilders. Standard cars included the Coupé, Cabriolet, and Speedster. There were also Notchback, Roadster and Convertible 'D' variants, most featuring subtle differences in the shape of the body. Perhaps the purest expression of the 356 as a driver-focused sports car was the Speedster. It first appeared in 1955 at the suggestion of the influential American importer, Max Hoffman who believed that a stripped-down, lower-cost 356 would sell well in America, particularly in sunny California where sports car racing was all the rage. He believed that a lightweight car with simple equipment could be readily set up for track duty and driven home at the end of the day. Hoffman proved right and the Speedster was an instant hit. Instantly recognisable by virtue of its low, wraparound - as opposed to V-shaped - windscreen, smaller and entirely retractable hood, lower door waistline, horizontal trim strip at the level of the door handles, and twin bucket seats, all of which served to emphasise its sporting image. Powered initially by the 1.5-litre version of Porsche's horizontally opposed four, upgraded to the new 1.6-litre, 60bhp engine with the introduction of the improved 356A in 1955. Priced at $2,995, the Speedster was the lightest of the 356s, enjoying a commensurate performance boost that meant over 100mph was possible. Allied to its already renowned handling characteristics, this meant that these elegant little cars were an instant success in the burgeoning American sports car racing scene. Production was relatively short, however, running from 1955 through 1958, when it was replaced by the heavier, more luxurious Convertible 'D'. Today, the Speedster remains one of the most highly sought-after and collectible variations on the 356 theme. 

Offered here today is an absolutely stunning and highly correct 1957, 356A T1 Speedster with coachwork by Reutter. Produced originally for the German market, the car spent most of its life in Colorado before being returned to the UK in 1996 and purchased by our vendor who has worked with Porsches for many years and knows these models well. With the car, there was a comprehensive history from 1975-85 and one or two bits of history going back to 1966, from which our vendor gleaned that the car's original colour was not the shade of yellow it was wearing at the time, but black. Having lived in the bone-dry state of Colorado the car was basically very sound and after about a year the decision was taken to fully restore it and return it to its original gloss Black.

Having many contacts within the Porsche world our vendor instructed an official Porsche Bodyshop to carry out a full 'rotisserie' restoration using all the original panels, to the highest possible standards, as he planned to keep this car for many years to come

Our vendor tells us “The bodywork is exceptionally straight and all of the exterior brightwork and deco trims are of show quality. The gorgeous exterior is complimented by a beautiful and highly correct interior. The seats are trimmed in the Leather an upgrade from the standard vinyl and the floors have been lined with proper German square weave carpet, topped with correctly-patterned rubber floor mats. The folding top (High bow) has been fully restored with correct finishes, and upholstered in black German canvas along with the removable side curtains. Inside and out, this car has been extensively restored using correct materials, finishes, and details, with spectacular results. As can be expected with a restoration of this quality, the mechanicals live up to the cosmetics. With excellent detailing on the engine and underbody, it was still restored with regular use as a priority, so while it is very much a show-worthy car, no corners have been cut to ensure it is a fully sorted and usable Speedster.” 

The car has had five owners from new and apart from the large service and history file, is supplied with fitted luggage, a 'Concours' tool kit, and its original jack and owner's manual.

This magnificent, matching numbers, Speedster will suit the needs of an enthusiast seeking a highly collectable classic that can be shown with pride or put to full use on the road. Above all, a Speedster is a simple and pure expression of the classic sports car, a delight to both drive and to admire.