Everyone goes buck-wild over the 911, but don’t sleep on it’s predecessor, the 356—especially ones that have themselves been asleep in a barn for decades. Get your paint guns and wrenches (and your checkbooks) ready—there’s a Porsche 356A/1600 speedster project car going up for sale at Worldwide’s Corpus Christi Old Car Museum Auction.
A copy of the factory Kardex production record is included in the sale, showing the exact day this car rolled off the production line. It was originally painted Ruby Red (rubinrot in German) and had sealed-beam headlights and an odometer calibrated for miles straight from the Porsche factory—signs indicating this was a U.S.-bound car right from the get-go. The Kardex also denotes the car was delivered to famed Porsche, Mercedes, and BMW importer Max Hoffman. Some even consider him to be the father of the 356 Speedster, along with the 300 SL and BMW 507.
Hoffman saw the demand stateside for a stripped-out, lightweight 356 that could dust the competition at that weekend’s local race, but also pass as a daily driver on the weekdays. Hoffman made the case to Porsche, and thus the Speedster was born, with a cut-down windscreen, simple bucket seats, and minimal instrumentation. The track-bred Porsche was a corker from the get-go and quickly built a steely reputation in SCCA competition.
This example comes with the all-important Porsche Certificate of Authenticity, which confirms that the car’s 1582-cc air-cooled, single-cam engine is indeed the original one fitted to the car. On board is a four-speed, fully synchronized row-your-own gearbox, and four-wheel independent suspension with a front anti-roll bar.
According to the auction website, the vehicle is in “basic running, driving, and stopping condition.” Translation: It’s ripe for an extensive restoration project.
It might look genuinely rough around the edges, but the untouched pedigree of this survivor Speedster might actually up the final sale price.
“With an unrestored car, you know what you're getting,” explains John Wiley, Hagerty senior valuation data analyst. “With a restored car, you don't know what's been done incorrectly. You know you don’t have someone’s paint job hiding a lot of bondo, which is very expensive to correct.”
The Speedster market went a bit crazy these past few years. Starting in 2015, examples in need of some serious love began to soundly eclipse their estimated sale prices. And while the market isn’t ticking up like it once was, these open-top sports cars are no less desirable. To own a Hoffman-imported 356 Speedster is (or should be) a large check box on any prestigious Porsche collector’s list.
The auction takes place on October 4-5 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Although this car is a long way off from being show-ready, we’re hopeful that it falls into the right hands; cars like this deserve a second chance at life.