1958 Porsche 356
Year of manufacture1958
Mileage64 mi / 103 km
Exterior brand colourother
Chassis No. 84389
Engine No. 68308
Transmission No. 17888
The newly-incorporated Porsche KG, a modest group of 200 workers headed by Ferry and Louise Porsche, began building the first car to bear the Porsche badge in 1948 - the aluminum, mid-engined 'Gmünd Roadster.' This concept naturally evolved to become the open-topped 356 America Roadster with production of the spartan roadster only totaling 17 examples by the end of 1953. Despite the America Roadster's lack of sales, US distributor Max Hoffman maintained that there was still US-market potential for a simplified and lightened 356, with the new Speedster arriving on American shores in 1954. With John Von Neumann's advice about what was unnecessary, luxury items were deleted. A tachometer was not standard equipment, nor was a heater or roll-up windows. Sun visors and padded seats were optional. The Speedster was, in effect, the "affordable Porsche," and as such, proved immensely popular on the West Coast where it became a boulevard race car for some and a class-winning SCCA race car for others.
In 1956, the 356 received its first update, becoming the 356 A and gaining the higher-revving, 1600 cc Type 616/1 engine producing 60-horsepower. The 356 provided a peerless blend of style, comfort, and performance as evidenced by the 10,000 examples sold by 1958. That year also saw the updates to the 356 A in the form of an improved transaxle and steering box, a new exhaust routing through the rear bumper over-riders, and a switch from Solex to Zenith carburetors. As the most refined iteration of the 356 A Speedster before being replaced outright by the 356 Convertible D in 1959, these late-production 'T2' model Speedsters are among the most highly coveted of this iconic sports car.
According to a digital copy of its Kardex warranty card, this superb 356 A Speedster, chassis number 84389, is confirmed as departing the Zuffenhausen factory on 15 January 1958. As constructed and delivered, 84389 wears 5706 Silver Metallic paintwork and, while the interior color was not recorded, Porsche offered two different interior colors for Silver Speedsters in 1957. This example correctly wears one of them, a contrasting Red leatherette interior. Additionally, this Speedster was originally ordered with the more luxurious Coupe seats, although it is currently fitted with "tip-forward" Speedster seats. Other than US import through Max Hoffman's company in early 1958, its earliest history remains unknown. A Bill of Sale and New Jersey Title place the Speedster on the East Coast of the US from as early as 1968. Enjoying single ownership for the next 40-plus years, 84389 was carefully disassembled circa 1974 with the intention of conducting a full restoration, remaining in pieces until passing to its next owner in 2014.
Shortly thereafter, the long-incomplete but highly original Porsche was subject to a 40-month, PCA concours level restoration, with 356 expert Roy Smalley of Eurowerks, Campbell, Texas carrying out the majority of the restoration. Work delegated to only the best 356 specialists included rebuilding the matching-numbers engine in the workshops of Competition Engineering in Lake Isabella, California, while 356 Enterprises of North Branch, Michigan was entrusted to rebuild the original transmission. In addition to retaining its original drivetrain, the consignor reports that 84389 retains its numbers-matching body stampings on the front hood hinge, engine lid, and inside both doors – further evidence of this Speedster's high degree of originality.
Since the completion of its exhaustive restoration in 2017, the Speedster has been a regular entrant on show fields across the country, winning the Best Porsche Award at the 2017 Hilton Head Island Concours d'Elegance, Best in Class at the 2018 Concours d'Elegance of Texas, and several awards at the Maverick Region Porsche Club of America Spring 2018 Concours. Today, it rides on a set of period-correct Rudge wheels and is offered with a digital copy of its Kardex, its Porsche Certificate of Authenticity, jack, owner's manual, and a restored tool kit. This expertly-restored example of the quintessential 1950s Porsche, with its matching-numbers drivetrain, body panels, and supremely desirable specification, is undoubtedly a fine choice to enjoy on any number of fabulous touring events or prestigious concours fields.