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Coachwork by Ruetter
Introduced in late 1954, the Porsche 356 Speedster was deliberately designed as a dual-purpose sports car – one that could serve as both daily transportation and, with little modification, a successful weekend race car.
Originally priced at $2,995, well below Porsche’s more luxurious coupe and cabriolet models, the 356 Speedster was equipped with a stylish, cut-down windscreen, racy bucket seats, a minimal folding soft top, and side curtains in place of standard roll-up windows. These features helped reduce the car’s weight and made it ideally suited to competition use.
It was not long before the 356 Speedster established itself as a dominant force in sports car racing, capturing wins at diverse venues – from the SCCA races at Pebble Beach to the punishing Marathon de la Route.
Thanks to its outstanding competition record, brilliant driving dynamics, and quality build, the featherweight Porsche became a favorite with sports car enthusiasts, particularly on the West Coast, where top-down motoring could be enjoyed almost every day. The fact that celebrities such as James Dean and Steve McQueen owned Porsche Speedsters certainly contributed to the model’s hip, anti-establishment image.
The Porsche 356 Speedster presented here is a rare find indeed, as it is one of only 141 examples originally specified with the high-performance type 528/2 engine, more commonly known as the 1500 Super. In total, Porsche only built 650 Super Speedsters between 1954 and 1958, accounting for just 16% of the entire production.
Constructed on June 28, 1955, this Speedster is a “Pre-A” example, which can be immediately distinguished from the later A-series cars by its two-gauge instrument cluster, push-button starter, and other special early-production features.
Beautifully finished in black with red upholstery and German square-weave carpets, this 356 Speedster was treated to an extensive cosmetic and mechanical restoration under the supervision of the current owner, a Bay Area collector who has owned a variety of classic sports cars. The consignor reports that this car retains its original floors as well as its serial-numbered body panels and engine case.
Significantly, this 356 Speedster is presented with several rare and valuable accessories, including five original Rudge knock-off wheels (four with 1957 date codes and the spare bearing a 1961 date stamp), headlight stone guards, and an appropriate 1955 California license plate. Even the most minor details have been thoughtfully addressed and the Porsche is equipped with the correct type distributor cap, ignition coil, jack, and Speedster-only canvas spare tire strap.
For the collector in search of a superb example of Porsche’s iconic 356 Speedster, it just doesn’t get much better than this spectacular Rudge-wheel-equipped 1500 Super example.