1954 Porsche 356

pre A

Summary

  • Year of manufacture 
    1954
  • Car type 
    Coupé
  • Chassis number 
    51908
  • Engine number 
    32669 (now 4096034)
  • Competition car 
    Yes
  • Drive 
    LHD
  • Condition 
    Restored
  • Exterior brand colour 
    Ivory White (5404)
  • Interior colour 
    Red
  • Number of doors 
    2
  • Number of seats 
    2
  • Location
  • Exterior colour 
    White
  • Gearbox 
    Manual
  • Performance 
    129 BHP / 131 PS / 97 kW
  • Drivetrain 
    2wd
  • Fuel type 
    Petrol

Description

An expertly put together 356 competition car that is eligible for all the best events. Recently completed by UK 356 specialists, PR Services, to FIA Appendix K rules it would make an ideal entry for the Tour Auto, Mille Miglia or Modena Cento Ore.

Originally delivered to the US via Max Hoffman in New York in April 1954, this pre-A 356 is presented in its original attractive colours. The restoration was completed in two stages. Starting with a complete and relatively corrosion free chassis, still with the original numbered doors and bonnet, the previous owner commissioned PR Services to restore the car to an “outlaw” road specification.

The current owner acquired the car as an unpainted shell in 2017 and proceeded to refinish it in its original Ivory White colour with red accents on the interior. He also had the car prepared mechanically for competition, specifically with the intention of using it on the prestigious Mille Miglia retrospective.

The engine is particularly special, being built by PRS using a set of the stronger 912 crankcases as a foundation. It uses 83mm Shasta pistons and cylinders (equating to 1,600 cc), a NeuTek SX-3 camshaft, optimised cylinder heads, a full flow oil filtration system with remote oil cooler, and a lightened flywheel. It is fitted with Solex 40 PII carburettors.

The engine has been tested on a rolling road and produced 129hp at 6,600 rpm, or more than double what the car would have had when new. The gearbox is a late dual nose mounted type 741with shortened ratios and limited slip differential fitted. The brakes have been uprated with 60mm Carrera-type front drums.

The car has been set up for safe circuit and event usage with a plumbed-in fire extinguisher system, internal and external ignition cut-outs, a rear roll cage, towing eyes and four-point racing harnesses. It was completed earlier in 2021 and has had not much more than shakedown mileage since.

Our thoughts

A knowledgably prepared early 356 has for many years been a great choice for historic motorsport and events. They are reliable, practical and great fun to drive. They are also highly eligible and surprisingly competitive, regularly outperforming their contemporary drum-braked opposition at prestigious events such as Tour Auto, Le Mans Classic and the Goodwood Revival.

This car has been very smartly executed by people who know what they are doing and with a great eye for detail. It has just the right mixture of old and new, to make sure it functions perfectly yet retains its period charm. We would describe the overall aesthetic as “gentleman racer”, purposeful certainly but not extreme.

It’s important to understand, though, that this is not an outright racer; on the contrary, the focus of both the owner and PRS was to build a car that could be used for every occasion. You have to say that they have succeeded in this goal.

As well as looking terrific, this feisty little car drives like the thoroughbred that it is. It steers beautifully, corners predictably and brakes with confidence. The engine will rev past 7,000 rpm if you need it to, however it is not highly strung picking up cleanly from low speed and starting on the first crank.

This makes the car extremely versatile: we would suggest that it is really a supercool touring and event car, quick and pure to drive but not so extreme that it’s unenjoyable in this capacity. You could use it on the road all the time, compete in road-based competition events or take it to the most serious historic race meetings. Needless to say, we would go for all three…