The Taj Ma Garaj Collection | Lot 375
1958 Porsche 356 A Sedan Delivery "Kreuzer"
$86,800 USD | Sold
| Dayton, Ohio
28 September 2019
- One-of-a-kind custom delivery van
- Unusual and period-correct details throughout
- Beautifully crafted to concours quality; only 51 miles
- Includes 1600 Type 616/1 engine, currently not installed
- Documented by mock Porsche Certificate of Authenticity
Long before the Panamera and Cayenne, Porsche prided itself on remarkably usable sports cars. Its mainstream 356 and, later, its 911/912 boasted more utility than competitors, and they earned a reputation for reliability and durability that made them viable daily drivers in a multitude of climates. Period promotional material showed the cars being used in all types of weather, even loaded up with skis on their way to a weekend holiday in the mountains.
In late 1955, the 356 A was introduced with more powerful engine options, a newly standard front sway bar paired with softer front springs, longer rear shocks, and a windshield gently curved to allow for improved outward visibility. The updates were subtle and didn’t dilute the 356’s personality, though they did alter its character for the better. These cars retained the purity of design of the original 356, a look that would become slightly more complex when the car was updated again in late 1959. What didn’t change through the 356’s entire production run was its usability, for it was a sports car that could second as a practical touring car.
For John Dixon of the Taj Ma Garaj, what passed for utility in Zuffenhausen was only the starting point. Working with artist Byron Kauffman of Daytona Beach, Florida, Dixon sketched out a 911 with a sedan delivery body that would provide the rear-engined car with a relatively vertical, side-hinged cargo door and plenty of storage behind. After deciding that the low-slung 911 didn’t lend itself to the concept as well as the 356, Dixon entrusted Bob Bennett of Bennett’s Rod Shop west of Dayton, Ohio, with bringing his idea to life. The car would eventually become known as the “Kreuzer,” a Germanized version of “cruiser.”
The early sketches show how remarkably Bennett’s was able to stick to the original concept. They began with a Reutter-bodied 1958 U.S.-market 356 A that had left the factory finished in black over red leatherette upholstery and equipped with a sunroof. The base was originally a Texas car that had been damaged and taken out of service in rural Wisconsin, but the little car’s sheet metal was solid enough that it could be reworked into a panel van.
Bennett’s kept the car stock from its B-pillar forward and extended its roofline to create a nearly vertical rear section. The stock rear fenders remained intact and are capped with standard Porsche taillights, a careful touch that makes the car look as though it could have left Germany with just those lines. The cargo door is hinged on the passenger’s side and features a small rear window. A period “Please Pass” sign shows through the window just as it would on a delivery van, even though a little muscle under the hood would make this Porsche the one doing the passing. A 356 engine grille sits over functional louvers to keep a rear-mounted engine cool.
The creation honors its base with its glossy black paint and shiny chrome Rudge wheels, with a fifth mounted under the front trunk, as well as attractive GT bumpers. Inside, its dashboard (with VDO gauges), door panels, and driver’s seat are trimmed with red leatherette, just as the factory intended, while a folding cane jump seat for the front passenger is a nod to its commercial-van intentions, even if the only things the van delivers are laughs and smiles. Behind the front seats sits an unadorned storage area with leather straps designed to hold a suitcase. Rubber mats cover the car’s floors. It is perhaps not the most utilitarian car ever created, as its sunroof and wood-rimmed Nardi steering wheel can attest. Incredible period details abound, including a fan with ivory-colored blades mounted to the headliner to keep the driver cool, rare analog clock within the rearview mirror, tinted driver’s-side sun visor, and delightful cigarette dispenser, for those particularly stressful last-minute deliveries.
The Kreuzer includes a period-correct 1600 Type 616/1 engine, though it is currently not installed. A 356 A transmission remains in the car, ready to be mated with the engine.
So convincing was the Kreuzer that Excellence magazine chose to feature it as an April Fool’s hoax in 2005. The magazine claimed that the car was the only remaining example of three originally built by the factory. Dixon got in on the joke with a humorous mock-up Porsche Certificate of Authenticity that lists features such as “zigaretten” and “passenger seat delete.” A real Porsche CoA for the original donor car is otherwise included. The Kreuzer was shown at the 2015 Dayton Concours d’Elegance, where it earned an Award of Excellence, with plenty of room to spare for additional trophies.