Monterey | Lot 227
1956 Porsche 356 A Carrera 1500 GS Coupe by Reutter
$425,000 - $500,000 USD
| Monterey, California
13 August 2021
- 12% of the hammer price up to and including $250,000
- 10% of the hammer price in excess of $250,000
- A rare and early example of one of the most sought-after 356 models
- Carrera four-cam engine specially prepared for fast and reliable event use
- Two-year total restoration by Porsche specialists completed in 2000
- Veteran of rally events throughout the US and Canada
- Includes copy of Kardex and Porsche Certificate of Authenticity
By 1956, Porsche had manufactured 10,000 new cars, and its racing credentials had been firmly established with the help of strong finishes in the Carrera Panamericana. To celebrate the Spyder’s class victories in 1952, 1953, and 1954 (the last bringing in a 1st and 2nd in class and a 3rd and 4th overall, behind the much more powerful 4.5- and 4.9-liter Ferraris), Porsche decided to install a slightly de-tuned version of the 550’s complicated 1.5-liter, four-cam, twin-plug racing engine into a limited number of production cars. The new high-performance 356 A was introduced at the 1955 Frankfurt Motor Show as a 1956 model. The new model would, of course, be named the Carrera—a name that has resonated to the present day as representing Porsche’s ultimate performance street machines.
The new 100-horsepower, Fuhrmann-designed, dry-sump, roller-bearing boxer engine, with chrome-plated cylinder bores and 8.1 compression—down from the Spyder’s 9.5—could be ordered in all three of Porsche’s 356 A models, the Coupe, Cabriolet, and Speedster. Along with the rest of the A series, Carreras were fitted with a new and improved Type 644 transmission with a single-piece case, with the gear shafts being installed from the front. The oil tank for the dry-sump lubrication system was mounted in the left-rear wing well, being protected from road debris by a mesh screen, which carried the car’s chassis number. A pair of Autopulse fuel pumps and a pressure-reducing valve controlled fuel flow.
There were numerous chassis improvements, including revised torsion bars, larger shock absorbers, and revised suspension bump stops, which all helped make these potent little cars much more enjoyable to drive. Wheel diameter was reduced to 15 inches from the 16-inch size of the Pre-As, and wheel width was increased by a full inch to 4.25. Tire size was increased to compensate for the additional 47 kilograms of weight. Externally, the Carrera featured gold-plated “Carrera” scripts on the front wings and tail panel.
The instrument panel for the Carrera contained unique gauges with an 8,000-rpm tachometer and a 250-km/h speedometer, plus separate test switches for each of the twin coils of the dual ignition system. All this came at a substantial price, one that made Carreras a scarce commodity. Many Carrera Coupes and Speedsters were raced with great success, and accordingly, they became known for their reliability. They were so much faster than their pushrod-engined brethren that they were often placed in separate classes.
This 1956 Porsche 356 A Carrera 1500 GS Coupe left the factory on 23 November 1956 finished in Sahara Beige (5604) over a light red leather interior optioned with a set of chromed perforated disc wheels. It was distributed to Nordrhein in Düsseldorf and sold new to its first owner Wilhelm i.d.Elst of Krefeld, Südwall. The car came with a six-month warranty, good through 23 May 1957. The car benefitted from routine maintinence and servicing at Nordrhein, Schultz Essen, Fleischhauer through 1958.
Sometime later the car was sold into the United States and came into the ownership of Jean Jacques Mare of Montclair, New Jersey in 1985. He started a restoration on the Carrera and wrote to the Porsche factory during that time, but later sold the unfinished car in 1999 to Gerd Schwarzkopf of Toronto. Gibson Auto of Ontario performed a full “rotisserie” body and paint procedure, while Porsche expert Dennis Rak of AutoTech Diagnostic installed a new interior and renewed the four-wheel brakes with alloy-finned 60-millimeter drums, along with all chassis mechanical and running gear aspects.
Famed Connecticut-based four-cam guru Gerry McCarthy was chosen to supply and build the replacement Type 692 four-cam Carrera engine with mild performance modifications for enhanced speed and reliablility, which included installation of new “904”-specification Carrillo rods, pistons, and cylinders, while balancing the crank and rebuilding the twin Solex PII-40 carburetors and special “pea-shooter” exhaust. It should be noted the engine has been restamped to match and is paired to the car’s original matching-numbers gearbox. The two-year restoration was completed in 2000. Soon afterwards, it successfully completed the Targa Newfoundland, New England 1000, Virginia Mountain Mille, several Carolina Trophies, and the Colorado Grand.
The car passed to an early Porsche collector in the Northwest in 2012 before joining the renowned collection of Chris Marsico in early 2013, and was sold last year to its current owner. Presenting in a stunning shade of silver, this 356 is equipped with body-color painted front and rear bumpers and fender mounted sideview mirrors. It rides on competition-type wheels, where the aluminum rims are rivetted to steel centers. The red interior is nicely appointed with correct GT-type pocket-less door panels, three primary Carrera specification gauges, and leather luggage straps for long-distance touring. This rare and highly collectable early four-cam is accompanied by a large file of restoration receipts, Kardex copy, and a Porsche Certificate of Authenticity.