The first car to carry Ferdinand Porsche’s name was the 356. With aluminum fastback coachwork, pressed-steel chassis and the engine behind the rear axle, manufacture began late in 1948 and the 356 made its debut at the 1949 Geneva Show.
Its power came from a 40 bhp, 1086cc engine mated to a four-speed gearbox, with independent torsion bar/trailing-arm suspension and drum brakes all round. Fuel economy due to good aerodynamics and low weight was excellent. In 1951 1290cc and 1488cc engines were introduced. The following year came an all-synchromesh gearbox and one-piece windscreen.
By 1954, however, Porsche sales in the USA were suffering from the onslaught of MG, Austin-Healey and Triumph, whose cars provided as much exhilaration for a lot less money. It was thus that coachbuilder Reutter penned a minimal shell based on the convertible 356 with low wrap-around windscreen, reduced frontal area and height, removable sidescreens, a lightweight top and more basic interior. Selling at a competitive $2,995 and available with 55 or 70 bhp 1488cc engine, the 100-110 mph Speedster proved popular on road and track. Weighing 150 lb. less than a standard 356, it was also quicker.
The 1957 Speedster pictured here has recently come back to Europe from the United States where it has resided from new, with a well-known Hollywood actor, one of its long-term owners. Finished in white, with a black top and a brown and beige interior, this highly original Speedster has a little less than 80,000 miles indicated on the odometer. The car is fitted with such desirable original items as Rudge knock-off wheels, stone guards over the headlights and a Bendix radio. It is understood that the car has never been subject to extensive restoration work, and as such its original condition can only be described as superb.