Paris | Lot 119
1957 Porsche 356 A 1600 Speedster by Reutter
€325,000 - €375,000 EUR
| Chobham, United Kingdom
13 February 2021
- Half-century of single ownership by Woodstock Rock Festival producer Michael Lang
- Just four owners from new
- Retains its original and matching body panels
- Recent, three-year European restoration, limited milage since
While Porsche had already made a lasting impact on the sports car scene in the United States by 1970, the marque’s reputation in the music industry was firmly established in 1970 when Janis Jopin’s ‘Mercedes Benz’ was released, with Janis lamenting that all of her friends drove Porsches and ‘I must make amends!’. Janis’ Porsche 356 Cabriolet, hand-painted by her roadies in what is now a truly legendary, psychedelic paint scheme, became one of the most recognizable automobiles of its era.
Another music industry luminary who took note was an East Coast based music producer and concert promoter by the name of Michael Lang. Mr Lang began his career as the owner of a head shop in Coconut Grove, Florida. He staged the Miami Pop Festival in 1968 and a year later, moved to bucolic Woodstock, New York, where on a shoe-string budget he would co-create the landmark Woodstock Music and Art Festival. While he was putting Woodstock together and running his production business, Lang was driving a rented Porsche 912. A business trip to the San Francisco Bay area took him by a small used car lot in Mill Valley in Marin County, and sitting there was this 356 A 1600 Speedster.
Finished in green, chassis number 82967 immediately caught Mr. Lang’s attention as he’d been thinking about finding one for several years. For a price of $3,500, in short order, the car was his. In a conversation with the Research & Editorial department of RM Sotheby’s prior to its purchase by the consignor, Mr Lang tells us that the car had recorded about 30,000 miles with its original owner and was in fairly good condition despite a repaint from its original red and an interior change from beige to black vinyl. It seemed in good shape mechanically, so he drove it south to Los Angeles, loaded it on a transporter, and shipped it home to upstate New York.
The Speedster remained in his car for the following fifty years, driven regularly in nice weather and put away in the winter. The Speedster, he relates, ‘was the most fun car to drive in the world. I loved its shape. It was perfect for back country roads, and it never gave me any trouble. It always started and ran well.’ He estimates that he put about 10,000–15,000 miles on the car before deciding to have it restored. However, the car sat in the restoration shop, sprayed in red primer, for several years. Unhappy with its lack of progress, Mr. Lang picked up the car and decided to give it a new home as he didn’t have the time to oversee another restoration attempt.
According to its factory Kardex, Mr. Lang’s Speedster was an early 1957 T1 which departed the factory on February 7, 1995, wearing 601 Signal Red over a Beige leatherette interior with tan square-weave carpeting above black rubber floor mats. Under the downswept tail was a Type 616/1 engine that produced a modest 60 hp at 4,500 rpm. Its accompanying factory Certificate of Authenticity notes that this U.S.-specification Speedster was factory fitted with sealed-beam headlamps and a full set of chromed tubular bumper over-riders to protect the otherwise vulnerable nose and rear end sheet-metal.
Following fifty years of ownership, Mr. Lang decided to regretfully part ways with his Speedster, still in primer, to a long-time friend and colleague in the music industry. In 2014, the car was shipped to Belgium for a complete restoration by Porsche specialist Technique Historique in Waterloo that consumed three full years. All the original body panels, including the doors, engine cover, and front trunk lid, are said to be original and retain their unique serial numbers. The engine case, while believed to be original, was apparently replaced early in the car’s life and carries a re-stamped number. The engine internals are believed to be original to this car. A new Sigla windscreen was installed to replace the cracked original.
Following the completion of its restoration to its original, factory-specified condition, the car was purchased by the consignor in 2018, making him the Speedster’s fourth owner. Further engine work was also completed upon his acquisition as well. Exported to the U.K., it has been driven less than 200 miles since its restoration, and as such, it presents beautifully throughout. Its charming story only adds to its exacting restoration, making this Speedster a truly fascinating example of its kind.