1958 Porsche 356
Year of manufacture1958
1 of only 5 Built
1958 Porsche 356 A T2 Carrera 1500 GS Cabriolet
Coachwork by Reutter
Chassis no. 150484
Engine no. 90943
The evocative 'Carrera' name first graced the flanks of a Porsche in November 1955; applied to a 356A powered by a slightly less ferocious version of the racing 550 Spyder's 1.5-litre, twin-overhead-camshaft, roller-bearing engine, it had been adopted to capitalise on Porsche's victories in the Carrera PanAmericana in 1952 and '54. Dry-sump like the racer's, the four-cam Carrera engine produced 100bhp, some ten horsepower fewer than in race trim but comfortably more than its pushrod siblings. This was good enough to propel the 356 Carrera to over 193km/h, making it the fastest 1.5-litre production car of its day and a formidable racetrack competitor.
Significant Carrera developments included a capacity increase to 1.6 litres in 1958 and the adoption of a plain-bearing, forged crankshaft at the same time. The plain-bearing engine had been adopted because it was significantly cheaper to produce than the roller-bearing original, which nevertheless continued to be built in small numbers as it was considered the superior version for competition use.
This rare and highly collectible Porsche 356A Carrera Cabriolet was produced in June 1958 and delivered new to the USA through importer Max Hoffman to its first owner, a Mr Larsen in California. It is one of the first examples to feature the T2 body (built from May 1958 onwards) but still with the old 1500 GS Carrera roller-bearing engine (the plain-bearing 1600 GS had effectively superseded it by then). Dated 9th July 1996, a fax to the current owner from D'Ieteren, the Porsche importer for Belgium, confirms that only five were built in this specification. Other noteworthy features listed on the Kardex are centre-lock wheels; luggage carrier with straps; wing mirror; detachable interior mirror; USA bumpers; and a Blaupunkt Bremen radio. The car was ordered in Elfenbein (Ivory) with black interior, the same colour scheme it has today. The Carrera Cabriolet is believed to have stayed in California until it was discovered there as a restoration project in 1996. The car was complete but had previously been repainted red (see 'as found' photographs on file). The car was registered in California in 1996 (copy of old US title on file) when it was bought by the current owner's father through a Belgian broker. The sales invoice for 2,000,000 Belgian francs (circa 50,000) plus a restoration quotation is on file.
The Porsche was shipped to Belgium where an extensive restoration (body, mechanicals, interior, etc) was commenced around 1997 in Flanders. Finished in 1998, the restoration turned out more expensive than anticipated. The owner insisted on having the car returned to its former glory while remaining as original as possible, which included having the missing centre-lock wheels reinstated for the correct Carrera look. The Carrera engine was believed to retain the original Solex 40 PII-4 carburettors (still in place). Following completion in late 1998, the car was registered by the current owner's father in Belgium. The final cost of the restoration was around 700,000 Belgian francs.
In 2001 the engine was sent to Porsche 356 specialist Christoph Tanner in Switzerland for overhaul, and the related invoice for 285,000 Belgian francs is on file. It is understood that the Carrera engine, showing the original engine number as mentioned on the Kardex, had already been re-stamped prior to the overhaul.
The Porsche was reregistered in the current owner's name in 2011 and has been enthusiastically campaigned since then. It has been serviced regularly, though no engine overhaul has been deemed necessary. The car presents very well, with the restoration holding up remarkably well. The engine has not been overhauled for 20 years yet the car still starts and runs well. Having used the Carrera less and less frequently in recent years, the owner feels it is time to pass it on to the next custodian. One of only five built, this 356A Carrera 1500 GS Cabriolet is one of the rarest Porsche production road cars ever made and a 'must have' for the serious Porsche collector.
In addition to the aforementioned documentation and photographs the car comes with the following:
Correspondence and hand-written restoration details
Current Belgian registration papers
Old Belgian registration papers
Notes concerning the engine overhaul