Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Reutter
Distinguished by its sensational color scheme, multitude of factory options, and meticulous concours-quality restoration, the Porsche presented here is an important example of the 356 Continental Cabriolet.
Originally finished in Terra Cotta with Ocher leather upholstery and a beige canvas convertible top, this Continental Cabriolet wears a distinctive period color combination that was offered during just two years of 356 production. Ideally suited for the chic character of an open sports car, Terra Cotta was the color Porsche selected for the Cabriolet depicted in factory sales literature.
As documented by a copy of the original Porsche Kardex, this 1500 Cabriolet was custom-tailored with an unusual combination of options. Externally, the Reutter coachwork was ordered with chrome-plated bumpers and a hood panel absent a handle, noteworthy features that immediately set this car apart from countless other 356s. In addition to these elements, the Continental was equipped with seat belts, a speedometer in miles, and an ultra-deluxe Becker Mexico–a high-end luxury stereo rarely specified in early Porsches. Interestingly, Porsche designed a special shift lever that was used only when the Mexico was also installed.
Completed in July 1955, the uniquely optioned Continental Cabriolet was delivered to its first owner, Robert Jackson, through a direct factory sale.
While little of the Continental’s early history is recorded, by the 1980s, the 356 was in the hands of Joseph Harris, a Porsche collector and restorer living in Rockford, Illinois. In early 1989, Harris wrote a letter to the Porsche factory to verify the original build specifications of his 1955 Cabriolet.
Having learned of the Porsche’s rare features, Harris was determined to return this exceptional 356 to its original splendor. In 2009, after many years of diligent research and preparation, Harris embarked on a comprehensive restoration that took approximately two years to complete.
During the disassembly process, Harris discovered that the Porsche also had the correct brackets and openings for body-mounted fog lights, which were offered through Porsche’s accessory catalogue.
Once the bodywork was prepared to the highest standards, the Cabriolet was refinished in the original Terra Cotta shade. While this work was being carried out, 356 specialist Victor Miles plated the brightwork and sourced rare NOS trim pieces. Thanks to these dedicated efforts, this limited-production Continental features correct glass reflectors and properly stamped original components, hard-to-come-by features that are usually replaced with aftermarket reproductions.
Consistent with the meticulous nature of the body and paintwork, the distinguishing features of the interior were carefully studied and, with the guidance of a noted marque specialist, restored to their original appearance. Extreme care was taken with the selection of the finest leather upholstery and the correct square weave carpets were custom-dyed to match original samples then bound with cloth or vinyl where appropriate. The tremendous attention to detail extended to the restoration of the Becker Mexico radio and the installation of aluminum crimp strips at the doorjambs.
The presentation of the opening compartments is equally stunning. The original, matching-numbers engine, rebuilt and detailed to show standards, displays the proper factory finishes and components, such as the early-style Bosch distributor cap and Knecht mesh air filters.
Outfitted with whitewall tires, louvered beauty rings, and all of its as-delivered options, this rare open Porsche has a marvelous period-correct appearance that is both elegant and sporting. The beautifully presented original tool kit and owners manual are valuable additions that further underscore the painstaking attention to detail that went into this exquisite presentation.
Carefully maintained in a discerning Southern California collection, this Porsche has covered less than 300 miles since it was restored and has not yet been seen or judged at any concours events. With its classic bent windshield, tinted sun visors, single-exit exhaust, beehive taillights, and exclusive Continental badging, this marvelous 356 Cabriolet is bound to attract admiration wherever it goes, and it appears to be a prime candidate for leading concours events and marque gatherings.
As the last Pre-A 356 variant, this 1955 Continental represents an important development in the history of the open sports car and stands as a timeless example of elegant mid-century design. Undoubtedly the most attractive and authentically restored early 356 to appear at auction in many years, this exceedingly rare and ideally specified Porsche is deserving of serious consideration.