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Coachwork by Reutter
Based on Porsche’s 356 America Roadster, the 356 Speedster was the answer to demands for a no-frills Porsche equally suited to the street and racetrack. Stuttgart’s Reutter Karosserie revised the America’s original Gläserbuilt bodywork to create one of Porsche’s most celebrated designs. Retaining the America’s “Type 540” internal designation, the 356 Speedster debuted at New York in 1954.
The Speedster cleverly brought Porsche ownership to a wider audience. Equipped with a removable cut-down windscreen, simpler bucket seats, and a simple top and side curtains, the lightweight Speedster delivered sharper performance and handling than the standard cabriolet.
True to concept, the Speedster was a devastatingly effective “giant-killer” on the track and in the hands of skilled drivers, out-braking and out-handling the competition with ease. Erich Bücklers drove the Road & Track test car to victory in a 1,500 cc sports-car race at Willow Springs just a few days before the magazine sampled it. Period road tests unanimously praised the new Porsche, and one of the most compelling arguments for the Speedster appeared in the 1958 Sports Cars International Directory stating, “You don’t get as much iron as such for your money but you do get an engineering masterpiece in the full, literal sense of the term.” The Speedster was an immediate hit. Some 200 were built initially and approximately 1,000 for 1955, with annual production peaking at 1,416 units for 1957.
Accompanied by its corresponding Porsche Certificate of Authenticity, this “Pre-A” Porsche 1500 Speedster was built on January 20, 1955, and finished in Signal Red with cream basket-weave upholstery. Other factory original features include a speedometer calibrated in miles and sealed-beam headlamps. The present owner acquired this Speedster in its current and handsomely presented form. Prior to purchase, the interior was returned to its original colors by Willhoit Auto Restoration, the longtime Porsche 356 specialists in Long Beach, California. The interior re-trim was clearly performed to expert standards, with striking leather upholstery and a correct, expensive, and hard-to-find wood-rimmed steering wheel added at that time.
Most recently, Classic Restoration by Country Club of Englewood, Colorado, serviced the Speedster and went through all systems to ensure proper drivability. Invoices for this work accompany the Speedster. Handsomely presented and fun to drive, this outstanding early Speedster recently won its class at a local Porsche show. In short, whether on the show field or winding along a beautiful coastal highway, this highly collectible early Speedster is a fitting example of a definitive classic Porsche model.