Max Hoffman, the legendary New York distributor of imported cars, had a good sense of the emerging American market for sports models. Having garnered the East Coast franchise for Porsche, he did well selling early 356s, and he had not failed to notice the popularity of the Jaguar XK-120. His wariness only intensified with the introduction of the Austin-Healey 100 in 1953, which sold for $2,895, a full $1,400 less than the cheapest Porsche.
Hoffman proposed to Ferry Porsche that a sportier, more basic variant, to sell at a lower price, would bring dividends. Thus was born the 356 Speedster, planned specifically for the American market. Reutter & Co., of Stuttgart, with whom Porsche already had a close relationship, supplied the body and helped with engineering, for economic purposes. A low, raked windshield was made removable for racing, and light bucket seats replaced the standard type. Side windows were omitted entirely—owners had to rely on side curtains. The top was very basic, and the only instruments were a speedometer and a temperature gauge. The tachometer and heater were optional, helping to keep the basic price under $3,000 when delivered in New York. The Speedster was an immediate hit. Sales hit 1,800 by the time the updated 356A model was introduced in late-1955. More than 4,700 were built by the time the Speedster was phased out in favour of the Drauz-built Cabriolet D in 1958.
This superb example is 1 of just 77 4-Cam GS Speedsters produced during the 4 year and 3,676 unit production run. First delivered on June 26th 1957, it was specified in Silver Metallic over a black leatherette interior, anthracite carpets and a hood in black cloth. The upgraded 356A Carrera GS Speedster brought with it a number of discreet changes over the standard car, with both seeming almost identical side by side. From the inside, the car gained an 8,000rpm rev counter up from the standard 6,000 rpm item. Additionally, a couple of extra dashboard ignition control switches were fitted to the car.
From the outside, the car received larger bore exhaust pipes, wider wheels, a very slightly lower rear right height and most notably, the coveted ‘Carrera’ script on the rear body panel in gold.
This example stands above other GS’. Fitted with an exceptionally rare Type 692/1 4-Cam engine affording this example a 10% power increase to 110PS at 6,400rpm from the standard-fit Type 547/1 powerplant. Just 15 engines of this type were manufactured and much like all 356 engines, is thoroughly documented in Rolf Sprenger & Steve Heinrich’s ‘Carrera’ book. Sprenger worked his way through the ranks of Porsche at the factory as an engineer, a true King of customer service, he regularly reported to Ferry Porsche himself before founding the Sonderwunsch (Special Wishes) department- now Porsche Exclusive.
This specific 692/1 was originally fitted to a 356 GT Speedster that was extensively campaigned by Bruce ‘King Carrera’ Jennings in the SCCA in the late 1950s, it later found its way into this example.
Today this example presents superbly in its original colour scheme. A comprehensive 3-year restoration was carried out by Kienle between 1992 and 1995 and of course, the build sheet was used as a reference for the restoration works. Images in the file evidence the car’s good overall condition prior to restoration and the file contains number images and correspondence of the process.
Listed for sale most recently fresh from its restoration in 1995, this example was purchased by a renowned UK collector of the marque at the time where it has resided amongst a large collection since. Correspondence included in the file from the time of purchase between the owner and aforementioned Carrera-author Rolf Sprenger, details the request for and report of his pre-purchase inspection of the car on behalf of the current keeper.
Once the cars condition and history were verified by the factory, the car was purchased and imported to the UK. Since then, the car has been used most sparingly but has had no expense spared in maintenance and there are invoices on file to substantiate this.
This stunning and unrepeatable example with a very special engine is available to view at our showrooms outside London immediately.