1961 Porsche 356


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  • Lot number 
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1961 Porsche 356B Super 90 Cabriolet
Coachwork by Reutter
Registration no. 254 HYY
Chassis no. 155501
Engine no. P803125

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.

The first phase of development saw the 356's engine grow to 1.3 and then to 1.5 litres; the original split windscreen replaced by a one-piece; and a Porsche synchromesh gearbox adopted. 1955 marked the arrival of the restyled 356A, the newcomer being readily distinguished by its curved windscreen and 15" - down from 16" - wheels.

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.

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.

Porsche sub-contracted cabriolet body construction to a number of different coachbuilders, that offered here being the work of its close neighbour and collaborator, Reutter. This right-hand drive car was imported into the UK from Malaya (as it then was) in February 1963 and registered as '9 EXX', which was transferred in 1971. The accompanying continuation logbook (issued 1970) lists five owners over the succeeding couple of years, and the car also comes with a V5C document and current MoT certificate.

Restored circa 1993/1994 while with one of its previous owners, the 356 has appeared in at least two books on the marque: 'Porsche 911 The Complete Story' by David Vivian and 'The Illustrated Motorcar Legends - Porsche' by Roy Bacon (copies available). It was also pictured in Tatler a few years ago. The restorer is not known but there are a few receipts from marque specialists Autofarm in the history file. Since then, the 356 has been serviced only by Porsche and a local garage owner who rallies in Austin-Healeys.

The car comes complete with hard top, workshop manual, luggage rack and straps, and a spare set of wheels. A beautiful example of the rare right-hand drive Super 90 cabriolet - believed to be one of only 21 made - is presented in generally excellent condition, ready to enjoy.