Sold: 1958 Porsche 356A Speedster Reutter
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1958 Porsche 356A Speedster Reutter ($331,000)

Hexagon Classics By Hexagon Classics
September 8, 2016

Photography by Alex Whitewall

Written by Andrew Golseth

1958 Porsche 356A Speedster Reutter

PRICE: $331,000 USD (£249,995)

The Essential Elements And Nothing More

As collectable as they are today, it’s hard to believe the Porsche 356 took time to build popularity when it debuted in 1948. After two years of building a reputation with Austrian and German enthusiasts, the 356 slowly began grabbing the attention of North American weekend racers. After Porsche took a 1951 Le Mans class victory in a 356, things really started picking up.

With a robust flat-four, lightweight unibody chassis, and slippery design, the 356 was reliable and robust, handled wonderfully, and surprisingly fast in the hands of an experienced driver. Despite sales success in the United States, European luxury and sportscar importer Maximilian Edwin Hoffman saw another opportunity. The 356 wasn’t exactly inexpensive making it harder to justify for track-goers to buy and thrash around the circuit.

Max Hoffman—a man you can thank for the BMW 507, Mercedes-Benz 300SL, and Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider—convinced Porsche to build a minimalistic 356 aimed to please racing enthusiasts. In 1954, Porsche’s response to Hoffman’s request was the Speedster. The lidless 356 featured a heavily raked removal windscreen, minimalistic cabin with lightweight bucket seats, and a folding canvas top. The Speedster was precisely what enthusiasts wanted: a no-nonsense stripped-down racer that was just as competent on the road as it was on raceways.

DESIGN

The Porsche 356 is an icon. Commonly joked about how “Porsches are nothing more than expensive Volkswagens,” there’s a little truth behind that quip. The earliest 356 were built with a surprising number of bits from the Volkswagen parts bin. Even if the organic “upside-down bathtub” design mimics a microwaved a Beetle, it’s elegance cannot be denied. While many cars from the era featured a high “Corvair line” that sunk inwards as the body reached the pavement, the 356 design took a different approach.

Instead of a top-heavy suggesting shoulder line, the 356 appears to be vacuumed to the road—sucked down and wide at the base of the body. On the Speedster specifically, the swooping fenders carry a gradual arch that tapers off at the very back of the car, giving the profile an airfoil line. It’s an instantly recognizable and timeless shape.

THE CAR

This stunning three-owner metallic silver 1958 Porsche 356A is a Reutter steel-bodied Speedster that was supplied new via Messers Islinger of Mannheim, Germany. Restored five years ago by an Italian and German classic car guru, the rebuild was a body off, engine out affair. One of just 1,171 authentic Speedster produced, this final year example is numbers-matching and in great driver’s mechanical and aesthetic condition.

Refinished in traditional German Racing Silver, the body, bumpers, and brightwork are all original and in excellent shape. The body is complete with the correct trim, emblems, lighting equipment, and steel wheels complete with chrome center caps. The removal windscreen is free of cracks or major imperfections and the folding roof has fresh black canvas to match the interior.

The spartan cabin left the factory with red leatherette but was changed in favor of black leather during the restoration. The new interior materials were carefully selected to match the factory materials used in period. The original teal digit gauges are fully functional and the color-matched-to-body dash is still equipped with the factory-optioned radio—a rare item. Even the often-tarnished ivory colored switchgear, shift knob, and steering wheel are exceptional.

Under the ventilated rear deck lid, the rebuilt numbers-matching 1600 flat-four (1582 cc) is nearly spotless thanks to a recent engine compartment detailing by a premier UK P-car specialist. The engine fires and runs beautifully with no leaks or problems to note. The original four-speed manual gearbox has also been rebuilt and shifts smoothly without grinds or pop-out issues. The driveline is in congruent condition.

CONDITION

Exterior Highlights

Exterior Blemishes

Interior Highlights

Interior Blemishes

Mechanical Highlights

Mechanical Blemishes

ORIGINALITY

The Reutter built body retains all original numbers-matching panels, which are straight and free of corrosion. Similarly, the engine and transmission are also original to the car and in great mechanical condition. The car has been repainted and the interior was reupholstered in black—not in the original red hide the car came with. Still, the classic German Racing Silver over black leather is arguably the most famous and iconic combination on the Speedster. Despite being restored and the cabin re-stitched in a non-original color, this is handsomely rebuilt classic using entirely original Speedster parts with the exception of new paint and upholstery.

DOCUMENTATION

Included in the sale are various restoration documents and pictures, extensive service invoices, and original frunk-mounted spare tire.

OWNERSHIP TIMELINE

1958 – 2015 | Three owners | Germany, Italy, Unknown

2015 – Present | Landmark Car Company Ltd. | United Kingdom

CLOSING THOUGHTS

With so few authentic Speedsters produced (1,171 believed in total), these special racer-aimed 356 are rarely offered for sale and, oftentimes, trade hands in private deals. This authentic 356A Speedster has been professionally restored and is being offered outside the typical closed collector circulation. Refinished in the model’s most famed color combination, this German Racing Silver Speedster would be equally at home lawn-parked at Monterey Car Week as it would be looping Goodwood Circuit.

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