Icons of Excellence & Haute Luxury | Lot 5

1954 Porsche 356 Pre-A Speedster by Reutter

$500,000 - $600,000 USD

€430,000 - €500,000 EUR

£365,000 - £435,000 GBP

United States | Las Vegas, Nevada

24 October 2021

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  • 10% of the hammer price in excess of $250,000
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Chassis No.
Engine No.
Gearbox No.
US Title
  • The 90th of the first 200 Speedsters built in late 1954
  • Retains numbers-matching engine and gearbox
  • Expertly restored in original colors of Pure White over Red leatherette
  • Supplied with a Kardex copy and Porsche Certificate of Authenticity

There’s something about a Porsche 356 Speedster that quickens the pulse and declares, “This is a real sports car!” We are pleased to offer here the 90th of only 200 Speedsters constructed in late 1954, as American importer Max Hoffman urged the company to hurry its new, lightweight two-seat sports car to market.

Along with its siblings, chassis number 80090 was constructed on a modified 356 Cabriolet tub that was pulled from Reutter’s assembly line. Reutter cut off the Cabriolet’s fixed windshield posts to make way for a simple and easily removable windshield frame, suggesting that Porsche engineers were already thinking about putting these spartan little roadsters to competition use.

The accompanying Kardex copy states that 80090 was completed on 15 November 1954 as a “Normal” model, powered by a 1,500-cubic-centimeter air-cooled flat-four engine utilizing plain bearings on a two-piece crank case. With a pair of 32-mm Solex carburetors and a mild cam, this engine developed 55 horsepower at 4,400 rpm, fed to the rear wheels through a four-speed manual transaxle. The suspension was fully independent, with drum brakes all around. Finished in Pure White enamel (paint code 5105), this car was upholstered in Red leatherette with red square-weave carpets and black rubber floor mats. The thin racing seats were piped in white.

The Kardex mentions that this car was fitted with a “Tacho in Meilen”, meaning a speedometer in miles. Hoffman set the Speedster’s base price at $2,995 to better compete in the showroom with its British and Italian rivals, so an actual tachometer was optional at extra cost, as were such niceties as a heating system and side curtains.

Following shipment to Hoffman’s dealership in New York City, 80090 is believed to have made its way to the West Coast. At some point in the 1980s, the Porsche was parked in a shed near Los Angeles by its second owner, where it remained undisturbed for 30 years. It was discovered in mid-2017 by Vintage Specialties, who purchased the Speedster after noting how the dry Southern California climate helped preserve the car’s original paint and metalwork. Upon their inspection they found the body panels, including doors, front hood, and engine lid to be original and undamaged, and the engine and gearbox to be numbers-matching.

The complete restoration consumed a year and a half, with the car being completely disassembled. All the original parts were saved, reconditioned as necessary, and re-installed. This Speedster contains many rare and hard-to-find original Pre-A items such as its bumper moldings, “blunt-nose” hood handle, light switch, door handles, badging, ignition key and starter button, and Solex carburetors. Correct, date-stamped 16-inch steel wheels, including the spare, are fitted with new Michelin 550-16 tires. A handsome flat Nardi wood-rimmed steering wheel is currently installed, but the original plastic-rimmed “banjo”-style wheel accompanies the car.

The Porsche was expertly resprayed in fresh Pure White enamel at Vintage Specialties and reupholstered in Red leatherette by Autos International. All the brightwork was triple-chrome replated. At some point, the car’s original speedometer in miles was swapped for a metric unit in kilometers. The gauges were rebuilt by Palo Alto Speedometer, and the metric odometer zeroed. It currently displays 100 kilometers (~63 miles) at time of cataloguing, presumably accrued since restoration; the car’s total mileage is unknown. Both the engine and transmission were rebuilt in-house using genuine Porsche parts, correct hardware, and proper finishes. Keeping with originality, the original 6-volt electrical system remains in place and functional along with a rebuilt wiring harness.

Included with this magnificent Speedster are a new top, side curtains, and tonneau cover, a jack, a copy of its Porsche Kardex, a Porsche Certificate of Authenticity, and a folio of before- and after-restoration photos.

With its charming color combination, numbers-matching engine and gearbox, this Speedster would make a wonderful addition to any serious Porsche collection.

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