Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Reutter
From the Jerry Seinfeld Collection
356 Club Dana Point Concours d’Elegance, Dana Point, California, July 2012 (First in Class)Quail Motorsports Gathering, Carmel Valley, California, August 2012 (Best in Class)Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance, Rancho Palos Verdes, California, September 2012
In 1955, less than a year after the sporting 356 Speedster model was introduced, Porsche built the first example equipped with the competition-derived four-cam Carrera engine. The result was a brilliant dual-purpose sports car, and the Carrera Speedster continued to be improved and refined over the course of production.
Beginning in 1957, Porsche began to offer a GT option for the 1500 GS Carrera model. Initially, the option referred only to the engine’s state of tune; however, in time, the GS/GTs were equipped with other competition features such as an extended range 80-liter fuel tank and 60 mm racing front brakes with vented backing plates. The following year, Porsche began to offer GS/GT Carreras with lightweight alloy panels, louvered deck lid, vinyl trim, and Plexiglas windows, creating a virtually unbeatable package. In GS/GT form, Carrera Speedsters proved so popular in racing that Porsche continued to build them into 1959, though the standard Speedster model had already been replaced by the more luxurious Convertible D.
Between 1955 and 1959, Porsche built 151 Carrera Speedsters – a figure that accounts for just 3% of total Speedster production. From this limited supply, fewer than 90 Carrera Speedsters were specified in GS/GT trim and even fewer – approximately 56 in all – left the factory with lightweight aluminum panels. For decades, knowledgeable Porsche collectors have regarded these limited-production alloy-paneled GS/GT Speedsters as the ultimate expression of the sporting 356; the few examples that survive today are jealously guarded by their owners.
The Carrera Speedster presented here, chassis 84908, is a stunning example of a rare thoroughbred Porsche. According to factory records, this car was completed in May 1958 and specified as a GS/GT with alloy panels.
As with all Carreras, the complex four-cam engine is the true heart of the car, and this GS/GT Speedster is one of as few as 14 examples originally equipped with the 1,500 cc type 692/0 engine. These 692/0 engines, which were all built in 1958 and numbered 91001 through 91030, were the last four-cams to utilize roller-bearing crankshafts, as Hirth discontinued their production later that year. Though similar in many ways to the original type 547 engine series, the various type 692 engines are easily identified by their relocated distributor V-drive.
The engine originally installed in this car, no. 91015, was first installed in another GS/GT Speedster, chassis 84912, sold new to amateur racer Leo Levine. Shortly after taking delivery of his Carrera Speedster, Mr. Levine requested that the Speedster’s four cam be replaced with a pushrod 1600 Super; the Speedster’s 692/0 engine (no. 91015) was then placed in 84908 prior to its delivery.
In addition to its rare mechanical specifications, 84908 has the distinction of being the only Carrera Speedster known to have been finished at the factory in Auratium Green. According to Porsche Speedster Typ 540: Quintessential Sports Car, just 13 Porsche 356 Speedsters – of all types – were ever painted in the striking optional color.
As was common with many GT-specification Carreras, this car was sold to its first owner ex-works, through the Porsche factory rather than through a distributor or dealer. While little is known of the Carrera Speedster’s early history, it is believed that the Porsche was exported to the US and subsequently raced in the Midwest through the 1960s and into the early 1970s.
In 2009 or 2010, Nick Clemence, proprietor of European Collectibles in Costa Mesa, California, purchased the unrestored Speedster through a broker who represented the car’s long-term owner. In a letter from European Collectibles provided to Gooding & Company, Mr. Clemence described the condition of 84908 when it arrived at his shop in California.
“When I purchased the Speedster the engine was out and in pieces. The body was together, floors were weak and needed to be replaced and the battery box needed replacement as well,” Mr. Clemence wrote. “The usual dings and dents but the Speedster was mostly complete.”
Over the next three years, European Collectibles performed a ground-up restoration, with the intention of returning the Carrera Speedster to its original splendor. According to Mr. Clemence, no expense was spared in the restoration, with rare OEM and NOS components used whenever possible and prominent four cam specialist Bill Doyle of the Rennwagen Motor Company hired to rebuild the engine. Once carefully prepared, the bodywork was refinished in the as-delivered Auratium Green and the interior trimmed in black vinyl. Beautifully presented in all respects, the Carrera Speedster was generously equipped with all the best period accessories including auxiliary fog lights, a Spyder mirror, sport exhaust, and GT roll bar finished in Auratium Green.
Completed in 2012, the Carrera Speedster made its post-restoration debut at the 24th Annual Dana Point Concours d’Elegance hosted by the 356 Club of Southern California. Judged in the highly competitive Full Concours category, 84908 achieved a remarkable 298.6 score (out of 300) and earned First in Class honors – a testament to the accuracy and quality of the car’s presentation. That August, the Carrera Speedster was displayed in Carmel Valley, California, at the Quail Motorsports Gathering, where it was selected as Best in Class from a field of 59 postwar sports cars.
Acquired by Jerry Seinfeld in late 2012, the 1500 GS/GT Carrera Speedster has been a prized fixture in the collection ever since. Though it has been regularly exercised and enjoyed on weekend drives, it remains in exquisite concours-quality condition in all respects, and has benefited from further attention by noted four-cam specialist Adrian Gang.
Significantly, the hood and deck lid are both stamped with the last three digits of the chassis number (908) and the engine type and serial number stampings (692/0 and 91015, respectively) match the factory records. As would be expected of an award-winning show car, this Carrera Speedster is offered with a Porsche Certificate of Authenticity, copy of the factory Kardex, tool roll, jack, and handbook set, which includes a 356 A owner’s manual, Speedster driver’s manual, and supplement for cars with the 1500 Carrera engine.
Offered at public auction for the first time, this exceptionally rare 1500 GS/ GT Carrera Speedster is surely among the finest restored examples of a highly sought-after four-cam Porsche. Eligible for numerous international events, equipped with the most desirable factory specifications, and beautifully presented following an exacting restoration by marque specialist European Collectibles, this Carrera Speedster will appeal to the collector who demands only the very best.