The Porsche 356 is a sports car which was first produced by Austrian company Porsche Konstruktionen GesmbH (1948–1949), and then by German company Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche GmbH (1950–1965). It was Porsche's first production automobile. Earlier cars designed by the Austrian company include Cisitalia Grand Prix race car, the Volkswagen Beetle, and Auto Union Grand Prix cars.
The 356 is a lightweight and nimble-handling, rear-engine, rear-wheel drive, two-door available both in hardtop coupé and open configurations. Engineering innovations continued during the years of manufacture, contributing to its motorsports success and popularity. Production started in 1948 at Gmünd, Austria, where approximately 50 cars were built. In 1950 the factory relocated to Zuffenhausen, Germany, and general production of the 356 continued until April 1965, well after the replacement model 911 made its autumn 1964 debut. Of the 76,000 originally produced, approximately half survive.
The 356 originated as a coupé only 1948-1955. Over time a variety of other styles appeared, including roadster, convertible, cabriolet, and a very rare split-roof.
The basic design of the 356 remained the same throughout the end of its lifespan in 1965, with evolutionary, functional improvements rather than annual superficial styling changes. The car was built of a unibody construction, making restoration difficult for cars that were kept in rust-prone climates.
One of the most desirable collector models is the 356 "Speedster", introduced in late 1954 after Max Hoffman advised the company that a lower-cost, somewhat spartan open-top version could sell well in the American market. With its low, raked windscreen (which could be removed for weekend racing), bucket seats and minimal folding top, the Speedster was an instant hit, especially in Southern California.
These cars were produced in limited numbers and have become one of the most iconic and desirable Post War Sports Cars.
This exceptional example has been in single family ownership since 1963, when it was purchased off of a used car lot on the Southeast side of Indianapolis by the Seller's father. This gentleman- a founding member of the local Porsche Club-had a large car collection so the car remained in occasional use and was always treated as a collector car from that point. During his stewardship, the car was repainted from its original Ruby Red/Beige to its current Black/Red Livery. Interestingly, he and another local Speedster owner swapped interiors, each desiring the others color, so while this is not the interior that was delivered in this car-it is an original interior. Upon his death this car was the only car retained by his son, who regularly showed the car in local Porsche Club events and tours. In 2003 with the car having logged roughly 25,000 miles from new, the car was sent to respected Porsche Restoration shop Stoddard and was treated to a comprehensive ground up restoration, however the original interior, which remained in excellent condition, was preserved. Work was completed in 2006. Receipts and photo documentation for all work undertaken by Stoddard accompany the car as well as a complete tools set, Removable Hardtop, and other documentation.
The car was toured occassionally and has been a welcome sight at local Porsche club gatherings all these years. This is probably the most revered Porsche in the Indianapolis area by the local Porsche Cognoscenti. The car is in excellent cosmetic condition with exceptional paint, brightwork, and finishes throughout. The panel gaps and fitment are excellent. The interior displays just the right amount of honest patina with only minor wear noted on the rugs.
The Seller passed away unexpectedly last year so the car is offered for the first time since 1963 to settle his estate. The car has been recently recommissioned mechanically in preparation for the sale with issues such as carburator rebuild and other minor things attended to, to ensure the car is in tip top running and driving order. I had the pleasure of driving the car some distance on a variety of roads for the photo shoot, and can attest to the fact the car is a delight to drive with crisp acceleration, sure footed braking, and the exciting seat of your pants handling these cars are so famous for.
This is a rare, if not once in a lifetime, opportunity to acquire a late Porsche Speedster with unparralleled provenance and history.