This surviving Porsche 356 A Speedster is true automotive treasure.

Porsche 356 A Speedster 2

“Movement keeps you young”. This motto has rarely been more suitable for a car than for this 1957 Porsche 356 A Speedster.

Sure, its 60-year life can be seen all over the car: the signs of the times have dug into the paintwork and the seats. But what ChromeCars’ “Automotive Archeologists” found in the USA in 2015 is nothing more nor less than an automotive treasure. The Speedster does not shine in over-restored fresh paint, but shines through its lived history and its genuine originality.

THE PORSCHE 356 A SPEEDSTER ON THE MOVE

The first stage in the life of this Porsche 356 A Speedster began in Florida in 1957. Then, in 1962, a young man from Miami bought it as a used car. He used it as a daily driver to work, and in his spare time he drove it in private and semi-legal gymkhana races at the Sports Club of Miami. The small, manoeuvrable Speedster often made fools of the heavyweights and American muscle cars it was up against drifting around the pylon course in the local park.

The Speedster not only made the owner visibly happy, it also helped him out when he needed money for a major investment. He financed the car at his bank for $50,000, later paying it off – selling was not an option. And so 53 years of life passed together before the owner had to admit that the Porsche had aged slower than himself and a new buyer should continue to drive the car with the same care.

In his possession until the last day, he cared for the Porsche appropriately without touching its original condition. Even in old age, he didn’t park the car in a museum garage, but followed the Speedster’s personality and drove it regularly. Unfortunately, he touched a guardrail with the right fender during one of his last excursions. The aura of the Speedster makes the sheet metal damage look almost like an award.

Like other automotive treasures, the Porsche 356 A Speedster is now in Jena, Germany, joining two of only 12 built GM Futurliners in the ChromeCars collection. Its perfect original condition was recently confirmed by Porsche Classic. “Even the experts from Porsche rubbed their eyes in amazement. Not only the chassis, engine and transmission fit with this Speedster, but also the rims, windshields and doors to the rubber seals, everything is absolutely original,” enthuses Michael Gross from ChromeCars. It is remarkable that such a well-used car is still so original after more than 60 years. But maybe our grandparents are right  exercise actually does keep you young.

THE PORSCHE SUCCESS STORY IN THE USA

Porsche in America was a great success right from the start, and it started back in 1950. At the Paris Motor Show, there was a crucial encounter between Ferdinand Porsche and the American automobile importer Maximilian E. Hoffman. As an importer of various European automobile brands on the American east coast, the latter had its own dealer network and an unmistakable feel for the wishes of the American upper class. The first contract regulated the delivery of 15 Porsche vehicles a year but thanks to Maximilian Hoffman’s marketing skills, sales skyrocketed. By 1952 an impressive 283 cars had already been imported.

Porsche 356 A Speedster 3

As it turned out, Hoffman was ideally suited to enhancing the reputation of the German sports cars in the United States. One of the first 356s was delivered to racer Briggs Cunningham, which helped to establish Porsche’s reputation in the motorsport scene. The numerous Hollywood stars who showed their new Porsches on the streets, especially James Dean and Steve McQueen, were no less effective.

Hoffman’s skill was not just showmanship for the boulevard; he realised that country-specific models are needed to be successful in the long term in the competitive American automotive market. For this reason, he suggested a particularly light and inexpensive version, which was launched in 1954 as the 356 Speedster and was based on the small series 356 America Roadster that had been created in 1952. With a base price of $3,000, the spartan Speedster became a huge sales success, especially in sunny California. Or in equally sunny Florida, as ChromeCars’ Speedster perfectly demonstrates.

Author: Paolo Ollig

As editor-in-chief Paolo regularly writes about all the big and small stories related to classic cars and motorbikes. Classic dreams: Lamborghini Countach and Mercedes-Benz 300 SL.

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