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1959 Porsche 356B 1600 Cabriolet
Coachwork by Reutter
Registration no. 716 XVF
Chassis no. 152555

One of the all-time great sports cars, the 356 was the work of Ferry Porsche, who had been inspired by the FIAT-based Cisitalias of Piero Dusio. Ferry's 356 was based on the Volkswagen designed by his father, and like the immortal 'Beetle' employed a platform-type chassis with rear-mounted air-cooled engine and all-independent torsion bar suspension. Introduced in 1948, the Porsche 356 set a new standard for small sports cars and proved adaptable to all forms of motor sport including circuit racing and rallying. In 1951 a works car finished first in the 1,100cc class at the Le Mans 24-Hour Race, thus beginning the marque's long and illustrious association with La Sarthe.

Cabriolets had been manufactured right from the start of 356 production, but the first open Porsche to make a significant impact was the Speedster, introduced in 1954 following the successful reception in the USA of a batch of 15 special roadsters. The Reutter-bodied Speedster was dropped in 1958 and replaced by the more civilised Convertible D, which differed principally by virtue of its larger windscreen and winding side windows. Porsche sub-contracted cabriolet body construction to a number of different coachbuilders including Drauz of Heilbronn, d'Ieteren of Brussels, and its long-time collaborator and close neighbour, Reutter.

By the time the 356B arrived in September 1959, the car had gained a one-piece rounded windscreen and 15"-diameter wheels, and the newcomer's introduction brought with it further styling revisions. The engine, now standardised at 1,600cc, was available in three different stages of tune, the most powerful - apart from the four-cam Carrera - being the 90bhp unit of the Super 90. The 356B represents significant advances in driveability and comfort over earlier 356 models, and is a pleasingly quick way to enjoy the traditional Porsche values of quality, reliability, and mechanical robustness.

Completed on 9th September 1959 and thus one of the first 356Bs off the Stuttgart production line, right-hand drive chassis number '152555' was delivered to the UK importer AFN Limited. Its first owner was Michael Gotta, famous for taking on the London Black Cabs with his fleet of 200 Renault Dauphine 'Minicabs', a move that led to a taxi 'war' in London. The Porsche was first registered on a personal plate, 'WM 1' and later 'YXR 2'. It was subsequently shipped to Australia and last known to be in use there in 1984.

In 2014, the then owner sold the Porsche as a 'barn find' to the current vendors. The car then underwent a documented, four-year, no-expense-spared restoration, and since its completion in 2018 has covered only 480 miles. Accompanying documentation includes restoration invoice, a dating certificate, and a V5C Registration Certificate. It should be noted that the engine currently installed is not this car's original unit, although the latter is included in the sale.

Bonhams 1793
101 New Bond Street
United Kingdom
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Bonhams Collectors’ Car department