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Coachwork by Reutter
Beginning in 1950 and following the move from Gmünd, Austria, to Stuttgart, Germany, Porsche commenced series production of stylish and upscale 356-based Cabriolet models, with approximately 40 examples built by both the Reutter and Gläser coachworks in Germany. By 1954, production increased yearly, with the luxurious, well-appointed, and expensive models enjoying growing popularity among well-heeled driving enthusiasts. Thanks to their fixed windscreens, snugly layered folding tops, and well-bolstered seats, Porsche’s early convertibles were an ideal choice for lengthy and highly spirited cross-country drives.
During 1955, Porsche’s American importer Max Hoffman was brainstorming new ways to enhance the appeal of the 356 to his discerning clientele. Taking note of the cachet provided by names, such as Bel Air or Fairlane applied to the upper-level Chevrolets and Fords of the era, Hoffman convinced Porsche management to begin placing stylish gold “Continental” scripts to a number of well-equipped Pre-A 356 Cabriolets in 1955.
However, production of the Continental-badged Porsches ended quickly when Ford Motor Company filed suit against Porsche for sole rights to the use of the Continental name. Since Ford already owned and used the Continental trademark and was planning to revive the name for their upcoming Continental Mk II and its new corporate brand, Porsche complied. As a result, only about 230 Porsche 356 Continentals were produced in all, including this very fine example.
This 356 Continental is reported to have been initially titled in Kentucky. During the early to mid-1990s, a prominent New Jersey-based collector specializing in rare European cars acquired the Continental from Ken Daugherty of Louisville, Kentucky, who is known to Porsche aficionados as a Pre-A 356 expert. While the Continental was quite sound, a painstaking comprehensive restoration was commissioned and performed by marque specialist Dave Norr of CB Restorations in New England. The Porsche was primarily stored with only several hundred miles covered since work was completed in 2008.
Mechanical restoration highlights include installation of a peppier 1,600 cc unit, which was fitted with a new camshaft. All mechanicals were extensively rebuilt and restored, and the Continental is equipped with upgraded 12-volt electrics for reliability and operating ease. The consignor purchased this car in August 2014 and he advises that while the Continental has not yet been shown competitively, it was highly regarded by Porsche experts. Now offered complete with a Porsche Certificate of Authenticity, prior title documents, and an album containing restoration photographs, this fascinating, rare, and superb Porsche 356 Continental Cabriolet will make a fantastic addition to any well-curated collection of the rarest and most interesting early Porsche classics.