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Coachwork by Reutter
This Porsche 356 Speedster
Based largely on the Gläser-built 356 America of 1953 and even retaining its Type 540 internal designation, the Reutter-built Porsche 356 Speedster debuted in 1954. Strategically built to a $2,995 starting price at the insistence of US Porsche importer Max Hoffmann, the Speedster brought Porsche ownership within reach of a wider audience. Equipped with simple bucket seats, a cut-down windscreen, and a small top and side curtains for weather protection, the lightweight Speedster delivered noticeably sharper performance and handling. In typical fashion, Porsche relentlessly developed the 356, endowing the 356 A with improved carburetion, ZF worm-and-lever steering, and various other mechanical changes continually evolving the car’s outstanding engineering.
Envisioned as a vehicle that could be driven regularly and then taken to the track on weekends, quickly prepared, and successfully raced, the Speedster immediately built a formidable reputation on American racetracks in SCCA competition. On the street, its rakish flair and ultra-modern attitude made it an instant hit with buyers and an enduring classic that continues to captivate successive generations of Porsche enthusiasts. A July 1955 Motor Trend road test neatly summarized the Speedster’s driving experience: “Its size, power, easy shift and steering make it fun to drive... The brakes are extremely good...they get you out of situations where you may have delayed too long... For a sports car, and especially such a small one, the Porsche Speedster has a very smooth ride...” Period road tests celebrated the Speedster experience, with perhaps the most compelling argument for the Speedster found in the 1958 Sports Cars International Directory: “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.” Today’s enthusiasts wholeheartedly agree, with every surviving Speedster instantly recognized and highly coveted. In short, no serious classic sports-car enthusiast can truly consider life complete without having experienced the Speedster’s many joys at least once.
This exceptional 1957 Porsche 356 A Speedster was purchased new by Dr. Gordon W. Murray of Denver, Colorado, under whom the vehicle was enjoyed, properly garaged, and fastidiously maintained. From 1962, Dr. Murray had the Porsche serviced exclusively by Denver’s Straightaway Motors, which was operated by Mr. Harvey Staab. A virtual fixture in SCCA and RMVR circles for decades and very well known for his driving and mechanical skills in Formula Ford and Formula Vee racing, Staab was also highly respected for his considerable expertise with classic sports cars. Following the eventual passing of Dr. Murray in 1985, the Speedster was jointly owned by his two granddaughters, Lisa T. Murray and Jennifer M. Bess, who in turn sold the car to Christopher L. Phillips in October 1987 at 68,902 original miles.
Subsequently, the Speedster was completely restored by Werks Restoration, Inc. of Golden, Colorado. During the restoration process, the Porsche was completely dismantled, stripped, media-blasted, and refinished to the highest standards of workmanship, with virtually everything on the car rebuilt. The original, matching-numbers engine was rebuilt to 1600 Super specifications for heightened performance and drivability. As offered, the Speedster’s presentation remains simply beautiful throughout, with its black exterior finish, red upholstery, and tidy engine bay. Accompanied by its corresponding Porsche Certificate of Authenticity and documentation verifying Dr. Murray’s original purchase, this Speedster is simply an outstanding example of this cornerstone 356 model.