Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Reutter
David and Kathy Ann Cowell, Sierra Madre, CaliforniaJ.R. Oldham, Sierra Madre, California (acquired from the above circa 1975)Current Owner (acquired from the above in 1982)
The brainchild of Max Hoffman, the legendary American distributor for Porsche, the 356 Speedster was a purpose-built machine intended to compete with inexpensive English sports cars from MG, Austin-Healey, and Triumph. Compared with the 356 Cabriolet it was based on, the Speedster was stripped down to save cost and weight, and featured a low, removable windshield, lightweight bucket seats, and a rudimentary folding top with side curtains. With a base price of $2,995, the Speedster was both a club-racing contender and a sales success.
While the early history of this example is not well documented, it is believed the car left the Porsche factory in Stuttgart finished in White complemented by a black vinyl top over a red leatherette interior. David and Kathy Ann Cowell of Sierra Madre, California, purchased this Speedster from who is believed to be its first owner. Around 1975 they signed the car over to Kathy Ann’s father, J.R. Oldham, who placed it in his home’s garage. The history picks up again in September 1982, when the current owner, acting upon a tip from a local bartender, acquired the Speedster from Oldham and again put it into storage, where it has remained ever since. According to an expired registration card, the Speedster was last licensed for the road in 1976.
While some corrosion and dents are present today, the consignor believes this Speedster is largely original and has never been taken apart for restoration. Now trimmed in Pale Yellow over a black interior, the body appears very straight with excellent door gaps. Inside, one finds a nearly complete interior with a number of interesting period accessories, including a Telefunken radio. The engine compartment appears largely untouched, and although the car is believed not to have been started in at least 35 years, the Type 546/2 1.5-liter flat four-cylinder engine is stated to turn freely.
Just 1,233 examples of the original Pre-A Speedster were produced in 1954 and 1955, with far fewer surviving today. This example, accompanied by additional parts and spares, is in remarkably complete condition and is being offered from more than 40 years of continuous storage with no apparent attempts to recommission the car. As such, this is a rare opportunity to purchase a first-of-the-line Porsche Speedster that presents an excellent base for a concours-level restoration.