From a dusty garage – where it sat for years – to RM Sotheby’s Hershey auction, it’s been a whirlwind few months for Sam Fleming’s 1957 Porsche 356 Type A 1600 Speedster. It’s also been an emotional journey for Fleming’s widow.
Nely Fleming fought back tears as she and automotive author Tom Cotter discussed the Porsche on Episode 6 of Hagerty’s “Barn Finder Hunter” YouTube series in August, and it’s no wonder. The car has been a part of her life for nearly 50 years.
Sam Fleming was 26 when he bought the Speedster near Dallas in 1967. He and Nely met shortly thereafter in Nely’s home country of Mexico, striking up a conversation after they missed the same bus. The two fell madly in love, and just one month later “he sent two of his best friends from Texas to meet my parents and me (in Mexico),” Nely said. One of them gave Nely an orange pen and told her to look for Sam’s car, which was painted the same color. “Then she reached into her purse and produced a measuring tape, and she said, ‘This is to measure you for your wedding gown,’” Nely said. “I am 5-feet-2, but at that time I felt up in the clouds – 6-feet-2 … like he was.”
Sam and Nely enjoyed weekend trips in the Porsche during nearly four decades of marriage. Sam passed away in April 2004, and the car sat in the couple’s garage, covered by a sheet secured with clothespins.
Originally painted white, the Speedster has otherwise remained stock. The doorjambs, underside of the hood and engine cover retain their original white. At some point the Porsche acquired its rare fiberglass hardtop, a dealer option that is highly sought-after today. Although the car’s original bumpers were removed – “to give it a sleeker look,” Cotter surmised – they were hung from the garage ceiling and will be included with the car, along with a box of additional parts and spares. The Speedster also has its original side curtains.
Most importantly, the car carries its original 60-hp, 1,582-cc OHV air-cooled, horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine with dual Solex carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with laminated torsion bars, parallel trailing arms and tubular shock absorbers, as well as independent rear swing axles with torsion bars and tubular shock absorbers and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes.
“You can count on two hands the number of Porsches left in the world untouched and in this condition,” Cotter said. “There are iconic cars that collectors dream of finding… a ’63 split-window Corvette, a gullwing Mercedes, a Jaguar E-Type... There’s just a group of cars that every collector dreams of, no matter what your interest is, and this is one of those iconic cars.
“This is the condition that a Porsche enthusiast would dream of finding – a Porsche Speedster with zero rust,” Cotter continued, pointing out that the floor pan is “solid as a rock.” The battery box shows minimal corrosion, as well, unusual for a 59-year-old survivor car.
RM Sotheby’s will offer the Porsche 356A at its Hershey (Pa.) Auction the weekend of Oct. 6-7. For more information, visit www.rmsothebys.com.