Portola Hotel & Spa
19 - 20 August 2016
Lot 143

1956 Porsche 356 A 1600 Speedster by Reutter


$380,000 USD | Sold

United States | Monterey, California



Chassis No.
Engine No.
  • A fully matching-numbers example, including date-stamped wheels
  • Complete and in excellent condition; wonderful original patina
  • Two registered owners from new
  • Includes copy of Kardex and Porsche Certificate of Authenticity

60 hp, 1,582 cc OHV air-cooled horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine with dual Solex carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with laminated torsion bars, parallel trailing arms, and tubular shock absorbers; independent rear swing axles with torsion bars and tubular shock absorbers; and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 82.7 in.

Please note that this vehicle is titled as a 1957.
Addendum: Please note that the jack and tool kit will be provided to the winning bidder following the sale.

In recent years, demand for great examples of the iconic Porsche 356 Speedster has grown without respite. Most that reach the marketplace have been restored, but rarely comes along such a largely original and unmolested Speedster as this, an automobile that has been lovingly maintained from new, driven and enjoyed by its two registered owners and the consignor for over half a century, just as Dr. Porsche intended.

This spartan open sports car was built as a U.S.-specification export model with sealed-beam headlamps and miles-reading speedometer and odometer. It left Zuffenhausen on 12 September 1956, destined for Max Hoffman’s distributorship in New York City. Its first owner is believed to have been the operator of a large sporting goods business in the Denver, Colorado, area, and the car was first registered there in January of 1957. That first owner enjoyed the car for almost 27 years, selling it in 1983. The second owner, a resident of Boulder, Colorado, kept the car another 27 years, until 2010, when it was acquired by one of the best private Porsche collections in the world. There it received in-house mechanical support and has been continually and properly maintained to the present day.

Back in the 1970s, this wonderful Speedster enjoyed a single repaint in its original factory color of Weiss but now shows the minor rock chips expected of a car that was frequently enjoyed. The paint in the door jambs and under both lids is original. This car retains its fully original interior of red leatherette, which also shows the wear and tear of more than a half-century’s use. Interestingly, the seats are from a 356 A coupe. This was not an uncommon substitution, as they offered far superior comfort than the simple thinly upholstered shells fitted to most Speedsters. They, too, show wear quite similar to the rest of the interior, so we can surmise that they are original, either as a factory option, or installed by a dealer early in the car’s life. The carpet has some wear and tear, but the tiny nails used by the factory in 1956 are all still there; all the instruments and controls work properly.

Other interesting features of this extraordinary Speedster are its “bee-hive” taillights, specific to the Type T1 356 A, and the lack of bumper over-riders, which would later become standard equipment on all U.S.-bound models. This very desirable Porsche was also fitted with dual dealer-installed outside mirrors, a pair of bumper-mounted driving lights, aluminum side spears, and a set of chrome-plated brass headlamp screens, which were an early factory option. An aftermarket AM transistor radio was installed by a previous owner.

The Type 616/1 1600 air-cooled four-cylinder engine is fitted with dual Solex 32-millimeter carburetors and is rated at 60 horsepower at 4,500 rpm, perfectly adequate in a car that scales less than 1,800 pounds. It and the four-speed, fully synchronized manual transmission are both original to the car per the Porsche Certificate of Authenticity. The consignor notes that both the engine and transaxle were rebuilt less than 6,000 miles ago in the Boulder area, in anticipation of driving the Porsche on the Colorado Grand. Furthermore, an RM Sotheby’s specialist recently test drove the car, noting that “it starts right up, idles smoothly, and runs fantastic. While driving it I went through all the gears, and it shifted very well. The brakes were exactly as they should be. The motor is strong and responsive.”

Testifying to the car’s originality, the consigner notes that the factory undercoating, with its small flecks of asbestos, remains intact in all four corners of the underside, and there is no sign of previous collision damage. There is a very small spot of rust in the passenger side front fender, and, states the consignor, the lead line about four inches up from the bottom of the front fenders behind the front wheels shows the lead work coming out; typical of an un-restored car. This Speedster displays excellent door and panel gaps, and the doors, hood, and engine lid retain their original rubber seals but still close as they should.

This amazingly complete and largely original Speedster retains its factory-installed (and impossible to find) “pickle-fork” windshield-wiper arms and blades, and it is supplied with a more recent black canvas folding top (over the car’s original frame), a matching top boot, and correct side curtains. All five painted steel disc wheels are correctly date-stamped “6-56” and appear original to the car. The car is fitted with a correct set of “Baby Moon” hubcaps; and an additional set hubcaps were put aside many years ago and are included, along with an original jack and tool roll.

This 356 presents the truly rare opportunity to own a 60-year-old survivor that has been well-used and appreciated and is in sound mechanical condition. Never before shown or offered for public sale, this fine Speedster would make a great addition to any serious collection of early Porsche sports cars.