Lot Number

1959 Porsche 356 A 1600 Convertible D by Drauz

Sold For $176,000

Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.

RM | Sotheby's - ARIZONA 2014

Chassis No.
Engine No.
Gearbox No.
  • One of Porsche’s rarest production models
  • A matching-numbers example with fewer than 63,000 original miles
  • Restored by Kundensport in Camarillo, California
  • Documented history from new
  • Includes Porsche Certificate of Authenticity

60 bhp (DIN), 70 bhp (SAE), 1,582 cc OHV air-cooled horizontally opposed four-cylinder Type 616/1 engine, dual Solex carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with torsion bars, trailing arms, and tubular shock absorbers, independent swing-axle rear suspension with torsion bars, radius arms, and tubular shock absorbers, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 82.7 in.

In July 1958, Porsche sent a letter to all its foreign representatives, stating that the four-year-old, bare-bones Speedster, which had been designed specifically for the Western markets of the United States, had not been well-received elsewhere. A new model was forthcoming for 1959, and it would be manufactured by Karosseriewerke Drauz, of Heilbronn.

This would be the Convertible D, which was introduced as an interim step before the arrival of the 356 B Roadster in 1960. The new car would offer buyers Speedster-like styling, but it added such amenities as a wind-up door glass in place of side curtains, a taller windshield, a better top, and a more luxurious interior. New and larger teardrop-shaped taillights would replace the earlier “bee-hive” style lamps, and U.S. cars were fitted with front and rear bumper guards and over-riders. Porsche sales literature described the new Convertible D as “a dynamic car of beautiful proportions. Extra light and low in design for competition and pleasure driving.”

Only 1,331 Convertible Ds were built between August 1958 and September 1959, with nearly all being fitted with either the 60-horsepower Type 616/1 Normal engine or the 75-horsepower Type 616/2 Super. With a curb weight of less than 2,000 pounds, the Convertible D could reach 60 mph in a little more than 14 seconds in Normal form, and it was capable of topping 100 mph. With relatively quick steering (2.3 turns lock to lock), handling was very good, and the large four-wheel drum brakes were quite effective.

This Ruby Red Convertible D left the factory November 18, 1958, and was fitted with U.S.-specification bumpers and headlamps, a Blaupunkt “Frankfurt” radio and antenna, one exterior mirror, and chrome wheels. Walter Fair, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, took first delivery in early 1959. He removed the stock front and rear bumpers and over-riders, replacing them with “California-style” vertical chromed nerf bars.

Two years later, having recorded about 12,000 miles, the car was sold to Peter Cornell, of Bondville, Vermont. Mr. Cornell enjoyed driving his D, and he carefully stored it away every winter. He also kept a meticulous record of all annual registrations, services, and maintenance.

The consignor purchased the car from Mr. Cornell in August 2011. It had traveled only 62,825 miles. The car was transported to marque experts Kundensport, in Camarillo, California, where it underwent what the consignor describes as a complete restoration.

The consignor notes that the body and tub were in excellent condition. The work, including a full bare-metal repaint in its original color, was completed in early 2013. The metal bumper over-rider plugs that were installed by the first owner were retained, allowing for the re-installation of a set of over-riders, if desired. A new black leatherette interior, a new black canvas top, a charcoal carpeting kit, and a new black vinyl tonneau were installed by Conejo Upholstery, of Thousand Oaks, California. The original engine had been rebuilt at approximately 51,000 miles by G and N Engineering, of Milton, Massachusetts. The brakes were rebuilt at the same time. The car’s original transmission was recently overhauled by Rusnak Porsche, also in Thousand Oaks. Included with the car are a complete service and repair file, a correct tool kit, a spare tire, a jack, and a factory-issued Certificate of Authenticity.

Today, the Drauz-built convertible has become one of the most sought-after models in the world of early four-cylinder Porsches. The D is far more comfortable than a Speedster and magnitudes scarcer than the 356 B Roadster that appeared in 1960, resulting in it being considered by many to be the best of the three. This example, retaining its original engine and gearbox, is virtually a single-owner vehicle, as it has been retained by its second dedicated owner for 50 of its first 54 years. Here is a rare opportunity for the serious Porsche enthusiast to acquire a hand-built touring machine from the most successful sports car maker in the world.

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