On Saturday evening in Hilton Head, South Carolina, this 356 Speedster was sold at auction. Nobody in the room could have imagined what price it might bring, and certainly nobody expected the bidding to increase that number to nearly three times as much as the car's pre-auction estimate, but that's exactly what happened. With metered hype, and only a little fanfare, this "barn find" car managed to sell for much higher than most perfectly-restored examples will bring at similar auctions. Auctions America, the auction house in question, figured that they would be able to get bids for this car to fall somewhere between $200,000 and $250,000, but the eventual winning bid of $605,000 (before any buyer or seller fees) blew everyone away. I wasn't in the room at the time, but I can imagine there was some incredulous laughter among the assembled peanut gallery. So what makes this car so special?
Well, for one thing, this is a time-capsule car. It remains in near-perfect condition, despite having been sitting in a storage unit in a suburb of Chicago since 1975. The car is said to only have minor rust around the battery box, which is common among 356s, especially ones which have sat for extended periods of time. The Speedster was purchased in May of 1957. From then the car was driven frequently during the summer, racking up some 25,000 miles between 1957 and 1975 by the same owner, driven only in the summer. In 1975 the owner was rendered unable to drive, and the car was reluctantly parked. The original owner passed away some five years ago, and it was purchased from his estate by a family friend. The original paperwork was found for the car, and the car remains highly original.
This is a Speedster that could easily be kept as-is for display purposes only, or could be restored to concours perfect with minimal work. It is unique in its history, and rare in its specifications with Aquamarine Blue Metallic paint, US-spec bumpers and headlights, and optional Coupe seats replacing the fixed back lightweight Speedster seats. The car's sale included the original owners manual, spare tire, and jack.
Here is Auctions America's description of the car from their catalog:
The documented story of this Porsche Speedster starts in Hoopeston, Illinois, which is about four hours from Chicago. The first and long term owner of this Porsche travelled outside of the city of Chicago to purchase this Speedster new from Shakespeare Motors. The original invoice that accompanies this vehicle shows that on May 31, 1957 John Casper paid a fifty-dollar deposit on the car. The sticker price for this brand new German sports car was $3,502.00. Also accompanying the car is the original bill of sale that shows John Casper returning on June 6, 1957 to pay the remaining balance of the Porsche.
It is conveyed that John thoroughly enjoyed his Porsche Speedster. He was often sighted driving the car to numerous Porsche Club of America events. Many of these events took place at racetracks, but it is said that he never took his Porsche on the track. The fuel tank has Road America stickers still intact from when he attended events. This was his summer car, which allowed the car to avoid the harsh northern winters that Chicago is known for. This explains why, today, it is in superior condition and solid throughout. The current owner reports the car to appear to be a rust free example, aside from the commonly seen rust beneath the battery.
The original service booklet is included with the car and has only a couple pages removed at the beginning from when it was serviced with a few hundred miles. There are stickers in the door jamb showing services completed when the car had roughly 25,000 miles. The last year that this Porsche was driven on the roads was 1975. Unfortunately, at that time the owner became unable to drive the car anymore so it was put into storage. From 1957 to 1975, the car was driven an average of 1,722 miles per year.
While in storage it was stored with the convertible top up, which helped save the top from major wrinkles; this also helped preserve the interior. The side windows were stored on the car and remain in very good condition, though the windows are yellowing from their age. The car retains its original tonneau cover for covering the interior when the top is down; and the original convertible top boot is also with the vehicle. The beige interior is preserved in excellent condition with no tears or sign of misuse. The interior also has the original VDO instrumentation, Porsche steering wheel; and it is equipped with a cigar lighter.
The Porsche Certificate of Authenticity shows this Porsche was completed on March 5, 1957. It was finished in Aquamarine Blue Metallic (5607) with a Beige Leatherette interior. Optional equipment included USA bumpers, sealed beam headlights and Coupe seats in place of the Speedster seats. It is also fitted with a Raydyot fender-mounted mirror. Today the car retains its original paintwork with no re-spraying or body work appearing to have been done. The blue paintwork is said to be in very good shape; appearing as though a polishing would bring the paint back to presentable shine.
Sadly the original owner of this Speedster passed away around five years ago. After his passing, a lifelong family friend acquired the Porsche from the estate in 2016. When going through the paper work with the family the original title, which was thought to have been lost, was found for the Porsche. This Porsche benefits from single ownership for the last 59 years. The original owner’s manual, spare tire and jack are included with the vehicle.
This is a rare opportunity to acquire a very early original Porsche Speedster. Making it even more desirable is that fact that it is coming from 59 years of single ownership, unrestored and complete with all the original components. As more Porsche Speedsters are found and restored; it is becoming nearly impossible to find such an original car, with a spectacularly documented history and long-term single ownership. It is conveyed that the doors close excellent with a sweet solid sound; and the near perfect fit and finish of all the panels and gaps is rarely going to be found on another original Porsche.
An automobile is only original once.