Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Reutter
K.R. Johnson and Family, California (acquired new in 1958)
In June 1958, Ken Johnson purchased a shining silver metallic Porsche Speedster for the then-princely sum of $3,641 and drove it to his family home in Long Beach, California, where it would remain in residence for the next 56 years.
A veteran of the Korean War, Mr. Johnson cruised his Speedster throughout Southern California competing in beach volleyball tournaments, as well as up the coast on daily trips to Malibu while attending Pepperdine university. His wife Ilene recently recounted many fond memories of trips taken in the Speedster, including one special evening in 1961 when Ken proposed marriage while she sat in the passenger seat, alongside the Pacific Coast Highway.
In 1972, the Speedster developed engine trouble when returning from a trip to Big Sur and, rather than accept a rebuilt replacement from his local shop, Mr. Johnson had his Speedster’s original engine rebuilt and reinstalled. In those years there was no way to know how important this decision would be decades later.
As the years progressed, Mrs. Johnson asserted that she would continue to ride in the Speedster only if her husband made it more comfortable. As a result, cabriolet-style seats were installed along with a Dynaplastics accessory hardtop with Plexiglas side curtains. The original red Speedster bucket seats, dry from many years of storage, accompany the sale of the car.
Mr. Johnson passed away in September 2014, with his Speedster tucked away in the same garage that it was first parked inside in 1958. Protected by a heavy cover and beneath layers of various household items long since cast aside, the Speedster remained behind a garage door that had been nailed and screwed closed to deter would-be thieves. When the door was finally opened in September 2014, 83870 rolled out into the sunlight for the first time in decades. In the following weeks, the Porsche received new tires, a six-volt battery, brake and fuel system servicing, and the carburetors were resealed. Soon after, the Speedster was serviced and subsequently the engine was started, and the car has logged several test miles prior to sale.
As expected, the engine and trunk lids bear clear stampings, the door skins resound with a lovely metallic echo when tapped, and the doors close with the unmistakable ring of an unrestored car. Today, 83870 has rejoined a world far more appreciative of its design and rarity than when it was last driven. Bearing the signs of over half a century’s existence, it is surely among the last sequestered Speedsters left to be rediscovered and would be an incredible sight on the road in its current condition. At the same time, there is no question that its lifelong Southern California residency makes it an incredible prospect for a top-level restoration by a discerning new owner.