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    Convertible / Roadster
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The 356 was the first car to officially bear the Porsche name and was launched on the 8th of June 1948, date of its homologation in Gmünd, Austria. Whereas the prototype had a tubular chassis and a mid-engine, the production version had a self-supporting body and a rear overhung engine (a 4-cylinder with a cubic capacity of 1,086 cc), like the famous Volkswagen from which it was now derived. Until 1951, fifty-two examples of this first 356 (aluminum body) were produced in the Gmünd sawmill, which was converted into a factory. The brand then moved to Zuffenhausen, in the suburbs of Stuttgart, and moved from a craft industry to mass production, with the appearance of a new 1300 (actually 1,286cc then 1,290cc) then 1500 (1,488 cc) engines, and steel bodies. In 1956, the 356 "pre-A" (apocryphal name), characterized by its two-part windscreen, was replaced by the 356 A, available in 1300 and with a new 1600 engine (1,582 cm3), and now identifiable by its panoramic windscreen. Although the 356 was available from the start as a cabriolet, 1955 saw the appearance of the iconic Speedster. It was Max Hoffman, the famous New York dealer of German origin, who ordered a more spartan and - above all - low-cost version of the production convertible from Porsche. The man who ran the showroom at 430 Park Avenue was also the "father" of the legendary Mercedes 300 SL Coupé Gullwing and BMW 507 Roadster, as well as a short-lived Porsche 356 Convertible that appeared in 1958.

If the Speedster found its public, some customers reproached it for its too basic comfort, and in particular a too low windscreen or its not very practical retractable mica windows. The new Convertible D, exclusively bodied by the Karosseriwerke Drauz as its name indicates, offers a style very close to the Speedster, but has more refined and practical finishes, including a higher windscreen providing better protection from the wind and bad weather, and incidentally a bonnet offering more space. The interior was also more luxurious, better finished, with more comfortable seats and glass windows that could be retracted by a classic crank system. Only available in 1600, the flat-four was available under the rear bonnet in Normal 60 hp (type 616/1) or Super 75 hp (type 616/2) versions. Between August 1958 and September 1959, only 1,331 Porsche 356 A Convertible Ds were produced... compared to 1,750 Speedster models. The Convertible D is therefore undeniably one of the rarest production Porsche 356s.

The car illustrated on these pages is one of the very rare 356 A's bodied as a Convertible by Drauz, and one of the much sought after 1600 Super with a 75 bhp engine. While the vast majority of models were sent to the USA at the request of importer Max Hoffman, 85852 is a European model that left the factory on 17 December 1958 and was delivered to its first owner six days later, a GI then stationed in Germany. It was painted in the original Ivory colour, with optional European standard bumpers, Metzeler tyres, reclining seats and a tool kit. A photo of the car in front of a Volkswagen dealership in this configuration is on file. It was marked K2974. The car was in the United States for a while, but was later bought by a collector living in eastern France. Then repainted in the very elegant Meissen Blue, it is a regular participant in the Coupe des Alpes organised by Rallystory.

The current owner took possession of the car in October 2006 from the renowned specialist Serge Heitz. Restored in the early 2000's with a perfect color combination of black, red leather and a beige canvas top, its interior is embellished with a nice Nardi wooden steering wheel and the sound of the Porsche 4-cylinder engine is enhanced by a Carrera twin tailpipe muffler in accordance with the original one. Perfectly maintained at Porsche Velizy first and then by Valentin Kaiser, a great specialist of the model in the Paris region, the behavior of this Convertible D does not suffer any criticism. During our test drive, we appreciated the handling of this model but above all the liveliness of its perfectly prepared engine. If the steering is precise, the gear changes are just as good and provide a real additional pleasure to the whole. The brakes, which have been recently reworked, perform well with a pleasant pedal attack, without any vibration or movement in the steering, proof of the optimal adjustment of the running gear.

Riding regularly at classic car rallies or on short trips around Paris, this car is as enjoyable to drive as it is exclusive on the collector's market! As 356 enthusiasts know, the Convertible D is vastly underpriced compared to a Speedster, even though the two models are very similar in design and philosophy. Offering more comfort... and waterproofing, this very nice example will delight the most demanding gentlemen - and women - drivers.

164 bis, avenue Charles de Gaulle
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