1955 Porsche 356A/1600 Speedster
Chassis No: 81066
- Late-production example of the definitive Pre-A Speedster
- One of the last 100 built with upgraded suspension and 1600 cc engine
- Beautifully presented and benefiting from a fresh restoration
- Matching numbers powertrain; all number stampings intact on body
- Historic early Porsche model; iconic style and incomparable dynamics
- Accompanied by Porsche Certificate of Authenticity and copy of Kardex
1,582 cc air-cooled, OHV horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine, 70 HP (SAE), 60 HP (DIN) at 4,500 rpm, four-speed fully-synchronized manual gearbox, four-wheel independent suspension with parallel trailing arms, transverse laminated torsion bars and anti-roll bar at front, swing axles with transverse torsion bars at rear, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes; wheelbase: 82.7"
Based on Porsche’s attractive but expensive Gläser-bodied 356 America roadster, development of the 356 Speedster was spurred by New York-based Porsche distributor Max Hoffman, who correctly realized sufficient demand existed for a no-frills, Porsche convertible at a lower price point. Stuttgart’s Reutter Karosserie revised the America’s bodywork with high-waist styling, which eventually proved to be one of Porsche’s all-time most celebrated designs. Retaining the prior America’s ‘Type 540’ internal designation, the Speedster debuted in 1954.
The Speedster brought the many joys of Porsche ownership within reach of a wider audience. Equipped with a cut-down and removable windscreen, simple bucket seats, and only a small top and side curtains for weather protection, the lightweight Speedster delivered noticeably sharper performance and handling. The Speedster’s instruments consisted only of a speedometer and temperature gauge, with a tachometer and heater optional to hold the price down, just $2,995 when introduced at New York.
Envisioned as a vehicle capable of being driven daily then taken to the track, quickly prepared, and successfully raced on weekends, the Speedster immediately built a formidable reputation in American SCCA competition. On the street, its rakish flair and ultra-modern attitude made it an instant hit with buyers and an enduring classic that continues to captivate successive generations of Porsche enthusiasts today. A July 1955 Motor Trend road test report neatly summarized the Speedster experience. “Its size, power, easy shift and steering make it fun to drive...The brakes are extremely good...they get you out of situations where you may have delayed too long… For a sports car, and especially such a small one, the Porsche Speedster has a very smooth ride...There’s absolutely no wallowing when it comes out of a dip."
The Speedster was an immediate hit from the start. Period road tests almost unanimously celebrated the Speedster, which must have appeared almost otherworldly to Americans more accustomed to the lumbering V-8 sedans of the era. Some 200 were built initially, but the next year production exceeded 1,000 to meet demand. Late in 1955, the 356 received its first major revision to the updated 356A, with the engine growing to 1,600 cubic centimeters. Speedster production eventually peaked at 1,416 units for 1957. Just 2,922 examples were built in all.
This 1955 Porsche 356A/1600 Speedster is a particularly desirable Pre-A example, as one of the last 100 built that were equipped with upgraded suspension and higher horsepower 1600 engine. This original data is confirmed by the Porsche Certificate of Authenticity and a copy of the factory Kardex production record. It was completed on November 14, 1955 and, as such, it is an early-production example of the definitive 356A evolution of the Speedster. The Speedster now benefits from a concours quality restoration completed in 2016 as performed by a well-known specialist of classic European sports cars, particularly Mercedes-Benz and all generations of Porsche. As offered, this Speedster remains true to its factory-original specifications and retains the matching numbers powertrain and number stampings on the body. Featuring the correct, factory-original red over black livery, the Speedster is further complete with correct German square-weave carpeting and striking brightwork and trim throughout. This Speedster also benefits from test mileage and mechanical sorting to ensure a great driving experience to match its legendary heritage.
Beautifully restored and presented in every possible respect, this incredibly desirable Porsche 356/1600 “Pre-A” Speedster stands ready to take pride of place at the world’s most desirable classic driving, touring, and concours events. Simply put, it is one of the finest examples available today of a true German sporting icon.