Of all the Porsches made in the 1950s, Speedsters are certainly the most charismatic. First sold in the 1955 model year, the Speedster was conceived for Porsche's American distributor. For model year 1956, the entire 356 line under-went mechanical and chassis modifications and the revised and improved car was designated the 356A. The car pictured here has undergone a 100-point professional restoration on an original, no-rust California car and is 100% correct and authentic in every detail. It is fitted with the ultra-rare Rudge knock-off wheels and a period Nardi steering wheel. The engine has been fully sorted out and is 100% mechanically correct. 1958 is the last year for the production Speedster, although a handful of racing cars were produced in 1959. The vendor is popular comedian and knowledgeable Porsche enthusiast Jerry Seinfeld.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1958 Porsche 356 Speedster Seinfeld's
Years Produced:1955-59
Number Produced:4,243
Original List Price:$2,995 (1956)
SCM Valuation:$42,500-$60,000
Tune Up Cost:$300
Distributor Caps:$15
Chassis Number Location:On horizontal bulkhead under front lid, just in front of fuel tank
Engine Number Location:Stamped into vertical alloy engine member, between generator pulley and crankshaft pulley
Club Info:Porsche Club of America, 5530 Edgemont Dr., Alexandria, VA 22310
Alternatives:Jaguar XK 120, Mercedes 190SL, Corvette C1, Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider

This stunning Speedster sold for $92,880, including buyer’s premium, at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona on January 20, 2001. Because this is an exceptional car, I view this record-setting price as market correct, rather than an aberration, and indicative of the trend of top cars pushing the price envelope.

Speedsters are the vintage Porsche that need no introduction. Although 356 coupes and Cabriolets may not appeal to wealthy multi-marque collectors, the Speedster, with its rakish design and competition heritage, often does. Indeed, it’s rare to find a first-rate collection of any kind without a Speedster in it.

Created by legendary importer Max Hoffman, the Speedster delivered both a price below $3,000 and a solid basis for winning sports car races. Porsche in the ’50s, like Lotus in the ’70s, saw light weight as the cornerstone to competitive wins. The Speedster’s loss of a few hundred pounds, by losing the standard complex seats, roll-up windows and a heavily padded top made a genuine difference at the track.

Ferry Porsche was said to have been against the idea of a Spartan 356, and the Speedster had little promotion or following in Europe. Although never a runaway best seller, 4,243 Speedsters were produced. This is a rather high number by collectibility standards, but far fewer exist today due to rust, accidents, and general abuse.

The Speedster’s particularly low windshield is made possible by its special seats, which lower the occupants a few inches compared to the standard 356. These Speedster seats were bemoaned in their day for being too narrow, with fixed backrests and noticeably less padding than the standard reclining buckets. Today, though, a Speedster without correct seats sells at a discount.

This particular car was not only in immaculate physical condition, but appeared fully fettled as well. It is no small feat to sort out a 356. While they are essentially simple and sturdy machines, even seemingly straightforward modifications such as bigger displacement pistons and cylinders must be executed with the utmost of care. Buying from a knowledgeable enthusiast can avoid years and thousands of dollars spent getting the car right.
Although this Speedster was originally Aquamarine Blue (medium blue/gray non-metallic), it was repainted a few shades lighter than stock. This lack of strict originality had no apparent effect on the price.

In addition to the superb finish, immaculate tan interior and celebrity provenance, this car sports two unusual options. The Rudge knock-off wheels are highly prized, even though they are heavy and require care on the street to ensure that the knock-off nuts remain tight. The Nardi steering wheel is valued because Nardi no longer produces wood wheels in the original 16-inch diameter. Nardis available today are 15-inch or less. The car also had its full US bumper overriders and a set of cast stoneguards instead of headlamp lenses, classic Speedster totems.

The vendor indicated that the car is a numbers-matching example. This means the engine, transmission, exterior color and interior color all match the build sheets, known to Porschephiles as the Kardex. However, this paperwork was not displayed.

Some claim that to bring big money a 356 must be originally equipped with one of the higher output engines, but this car made its price with the standard-issue 60-hp Normal engine.

Buying a Seinfeld car is not a guarantee of financial success. Recall the fate that befell the earlier Seinfeld Speedster sold at B-J (’54 pre-A Speedster #80032 sold in 1997 for $83,000) which later sold for a substantial loss ($63,000 in 1999). Special cars require special treatment.

When the new owner is ready to market this car, in my opinion he will more likely get top dollar if he makes it discreetly known to the right Porsche gurus that the car could be bought-even though it is officially “not for sale.” If the same celebrity car appears at auction too frequently, it can take on a “stale” reputation that will adversely affect its value. Also, buying a car from someone who bought the car from Seinfeld really doesn’t have the same cachet as buying it directly from Jerry himself.

(Historical data courtesy of the auction company.)

Comments are closed.