Driving A Perfectly Tuned Speedster Is One Of Life’s Great Pleasures
Photography by Ted Gushue
One of the greatest perks of living in Southern California is that every once in a while you brush up against some incredibly lovely people who happen to drive exceptional cars. Even less frequently, however, you meet people like this who don’t hesitate to toss you the keys to said cars, encouraging you to bomb a few canyons in Malibu on a spotless, sunny, Monday morning.
This was one of those times.
Friends of Petrolicious Elizabeth White and Andrew Zalasin have amassed an impressive car collection that they keep at the ready to be driven properly. These aren’t prissy showcars, these are meticulously maintained driving machines. I’ll let Elizabeth explain exactly how they achieved this with their Speedster—but it’s safe to say that this isn’t your average upside-down bathtub. This is what Elizabeth says about the car:
Our 1957 Porsche Speedster 1600 was delivered originally to a California enthusiast who, in addition to using it as a daily driver, raced the Speedster—till bar and all—since new in competitive events throughout the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
In the 2000s, the Speedster was brought back to life by CB Restorations in Massachusetts, whose principal, Carl Brown, had decades of experience restoring classics with Paul Russell & Co., and had gained a reputation for high-quality restorations that were frequent winners at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The Speedster, which carries all-original sheet metal, was treated to fresh paint, with the rest of the car carefully and sympathetically gone over. Everything was checked, with suspension bushings, and other wear and tear items disassembled, cleaned, and replaced as necessary. The leather Speedster buckets and interior were refreshed as well.
Over the years, we added various features—none of which necessitated drilling or mounting in a way that would not allow the Speedster to be returned to original. These include a custom leather-wrapped Valentine 1 mounted to specially patina’d hardware to match seamlessly with the interior that surrounds it. In addition, we removed the original engine for safekeeping, as well as various suspension and driveline components. 356C discs were mounted at all four corners, and legendary East Coast period engine builder Jerry McCarthy rebuilt the date-coded engine. For safety’s sake (we drive at night), we also replaced (again, without drilling or other changes) the headlights and associated systems to accommodate HIDs. The suspension has been tuned and dialed in to enable us to carve up the canyons with scalpel-like precision, leaving many newer cars scratching their heads.
After several years of use and enjoyment with an average of 4-6,000 miles driven per year, including a run from Reno to Monterey last summer, we brought the Speedster to HG Motorsports, where Dieter and his team went through every component and system to make our Speedster the best it can be. We’re very fortunate to own and drive our Speedster—and look forward to many more decades of enjoyment.