Former Porsche Speedster Race Car Now Cruises San Diego Hills
Owner: Jon Warshawsky
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Year, Make, and Model: 1956 Porsche 356 Speedster
Photographer: Robb Williamson and Jon Warshawsky
Jon Warshawsky’s Speedster was raced from its beginning, back in the late 1950s. It was driven to a 1963 SCCA Central Division E-Production championship and set a lap speed record for its class at Waterford Hills track in Michigan (one photo below was given to Jon by 356 guru Vic Skirmants, who crewed for the car back in 1964). Jon loves the fact that this 356 is not only a sports car in name but in life as well, because he always feels like he’s driving a slice of motorsports history.
Another interesting aspect of the car that Jon enjoys is that every bit on the car is an aesthetic treat as they were originally designed: the seats are beautiful on their own, the gauges are jewel-like, the windscreen frame is a sculpture in its own right, the wheels disappear into the body which appears almost space-like, and the stock steering wheel from 1956 is vintage elegance. People who couldn’t care less about cars (including people born decades after the Speedsters were made) get caught up in the details and the simplicity. Jon feels the car is like a work of art created with a perfect economy of brushstrokes.
This 356 was originally purchased by Jon due to a photo he saw back in his early teens in an old Porsche picture book. After that he always wanted his own – not simply a Porsche but a Speedster specifically. The photo that altered Jon’s life was taken from a low angle over the rear deck lid of a black ’55 Speedster in England, showing the hunkered, ultra-low, very Teutonic shape with its metal instrument panel and functional bodywork.
In 2008 and 2009, Jon started looking for a 911S restoration project, but after weighing the costs, he decided that while the 911 was very nice the Speedster was even cooler (at the time, the price difference wasn’t what it is now). The restorer called Jon in September 2009 saying he had found an unrestored, complete ’56 race car in Connecticut that had been stored since 1976. He said the owner had raced it and won many times but hadn’t driven it in years. Jon liked that it was a ’56, because this meant the car had the 356A improvements and the beehive tail lights but didn’t yet have the big American bumpers.
Jon bought the car, sight unseen and signed a contract for the restoration (photo below of the banged-up yellow Speedster is from Jon’s first trip to see the car after it arrived for him in California). Now that this 57-year-old beauty has been restored, Jon doesn’t let that keep him from driving and enjoying it. Despite its name, this Speedster isn’t all that fast anymore, so the rolling back roads in eastern San Diego Country are pretty much ideal for Jon and his car. He also enjoys taking her out to lunch during the work week as a kind of therapy – parking the car in front of a restaurant, even a modest one, usually turns into a social experience.
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