Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Reutter
*Please note that online bidding is not available for this vehicle.
Melvyn Shapiro (acquired in 1968)
Colorado Concours d’Elegance, 1992 through 2002 (winner of awards eachyear, including First Overall, People’s Choice, and Judge’s Choice)356 Registry West Coast Holiday, Colorado, 1995 (First Overall)356 Registry West Coast Holiday, Colorado, 2000 (First Overall)50th Anniversary of the Speedster, Quail Lodge, Carmel Valley, California, 2004Colorado Concours d’Elegance, 2005 (First Overall, People’s Choice)356 Registry West Coast Holiday, Colorado, 2006 (First Overall)Porsche Club of America National Parade, California, 2007 (First in Class and Weissach Level of Achievement Award)Colorado Concours d’Elegance, 2008 (First Overall, Judge’s Choice)Broadmoor Hotel Concours d’Elegance, Colorado, 2008 (First Overall)Porsche Club of America National Parade, Colorado, 2009 (Second Overall)Colorado Concours d’Elegance, 2010 through 2012 (First Overall each year)Porsche Club of America National Parade, California, 2014 (Fifth Place and Weissach Level of Achievement Award)Colorado Concours d’Elegance, 2018 (First Overall)
The successor to Porsche’s glamorous but costly Gläser-bodied 356 America Roadster, the 356 Speedster remains an unqualified sports car legend. Elemental, avant-garde, and renowned for its sharper reflexes, the Speedster is an essential part of any collection celebrating the greatest postwar sporting icons. Accompanied by a copy of its factory Kardex production record, this 1956 Porsche 356 A Speedster is a particularly fascinating example with exceptional history and a wonderful patina.
Built in September 1956, chassis 82549 is an improved 356 A Speedster in the T-1 body style, which carried several features characteristic of the earlier “Pre-A” cars, including beehive taillights and a shine-down license plate light.
Originally finished in white with red upholstery, it was factory-equipped with numerous optional features including chrome-plated wheels, a chrome “D” (Deutschland) nationality emblem, continuous signal ring, button-operated turn signal indicators, a Ponto-Stabil rearview mirror, windshield washer, and a rubber storage-compartment mat. It was sold new to Stephan Graf von Kesselstadt, a German count, through the Fleischhauer Porsche dealership in Cologne, which remains in operation today. According to the Kardex, the Speedster was serviced on two occasions by the Fleischhauer dealership, in October and December 1956. An ACI (Automobile Club d’Italia) decal, dated 1957, remains affixed to the Speedster’s rearview mirror, strongly suggesting it was registered for a time in Italy.
Fueled with inspiration after a 1967 trip around Europe, Melvyn Shapiro put out the word around his hometown of Boulder, Colorado, that he was ready to fulfill his dream of owning a 356 Speedster. There were a surprising number of choices locally, but when a 1956 model finished in Aquamarine appeared at local dealer Motorsport Inc., Mr. Shapiro knew his search was over. As documented by an original sale agreement, on June 11, 1968, the Speedster was purchased for $1,295.
The condition of the car was not quite what Mr. Shapiro wanted, and the Porsche showed signs of hail damage, as well as collision damage to the rear end. As outlined in an eloquently written article by Mr. Shapiro for the September 2014 issue of the PCA’s Panorama magazine, it was recommended that he take the car to local expert Tom Conway, who had opened a shop the previous year and was known for his use of metal finishing with lead rather than the more popular use of plastic body filler. The connection was made, igniting a partnership that has lasted for 50 years.
During Mr. Shapiro’s 50-year ownership, this incredible Speedster has seen multiple iterations, including an initial refurbishment of the body done by Conway, and then a coat of black lacquer ably done by the owner himself. All work on the 356, affectionately nicknamed “Speeder,” has been done either by or with the direct involvement of Conway.
Later, a decision was made to take the Speedster to the next level, and the car was completely disassembled with the intention to gain a concours win at the 2004 50th Anniversary of the Speedster at Quail Lodge in California. Retaining its original drivetrain and body panels, the car was painstakingly restored to pristine condition. No detail was too small or overlooked. NOS parts were used throughout, including Michelin tires made in the 1950s and a bolt of NOS red German vinyl that Conway had purchased 20 years earlier.
The efforts put forth by both Mr. Shapiro and Conway were immediately rewarded, and while judging at the event at Quail Lodge was canceled due to weather that year, the car was soon winning awards at every event it attended. This was highlighted by a win at the 2007 PCA National Parade, where chassis 82117 won the Speedster Class and was awarded the Weissach Level of Achievement Award, an honor it would receive again in 2014.
Now offered for sale for the first time since 1968, directly from Mr. Shapiro himself, this Speedster is more than the sum of its impeccable restoration and prestigious awards. It represents a lifetime of singular enthusiasm for a machine, and the experiences and joy that it has brought to a life well-lived. This legacy is looking for a new caretaker, which is the rarest opportunity of them all. A nice, honest find and presented as found, the Speedster retains its original, matching-numbers engine, which does turn freely but is not currently running. Offering an uncommon opportunity for the new caretaker to preserve or restore it as desired, this 1956 Porsche 356 A Speedster is a compelling find on so many levels.