Why such a high price? Well, this Carrera was well turned out and underwent a top-notch restorationChassis number: 102210 Engine number: 90914 - Legendary four-cam Carrera engine - RHD example delivered new to Stephen O’Flaherty in Dublin - Fully factory equipped from new with sunroof, Rudge wheels and more - Matching-numbers engine - Period racing history, contested Leinster Trophy and Dunboyne Trophy - Restored by Porsche specialists European Collectibles and numerous marque experts - Extremely rare and desirable build specification
|Vehicle:||1958 Porsche 356A Carrera GS coupe|
This car, Lot 271, sold for $414,736, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s London Auction on October 26, 2011.
This car delivered a lot of desirable characteristics on the “want to have, will pay for it” continuum. It was numbers-matching; it had a sunroof; it carried the attractive color combination of metallic silver over a green interior; it had the sought-after Rudge knockoff wheels. The Rudges also were specified on the factory build sheet, and that inclusion is substantially rarer than the wheels themselves.
This car also benefited from a fulsomely documented ownership trail — even if it did pass through the hands of a couple of Porsche “characters.” In 1992, Russ Klein in Brookfield, CT, put this car up for sale. It was in many pieces, in primer, but with a rare GT engine with the serial number 90824.
Several locals looked at it, including your reporter and good friend Gerry McCarthy. We said something that approximated, “Whoa, what a project.” Gary Kempton, who is smarter than we were, bought the car — largely to get its GT engine. Some years and several owners later, Robin Rennicks, a Dublin, Ireland, plastics company owner, purchased the car as a turn-key, nut-and-bolt restoration from Nick Clemence at European Collectibles in Costa Mesa, CA.
All the right bits
In addition to the desirable attributes listed above, this Carrera was well turned out. Many of the obvious points you look for on an attentive restoration were present. Trim was all street-car GS — and it was not mucked up with lightweight, race-car GT pieces.
The interior was well executed, although the seats were leather — not the original vinyl — which is a change that almost any buyer would prefer. While little is known about the all-important underlying metalwork, it has remained stable for more than ten years. The paint was very nice and panel fit was quite presentable, although each door was out a tad at the back bottom.
The engine was a late Type 547/1 1,498-cc unit. For readers not steeped in Porsche 356 four-cam lore, this first generation of the Ernst Fuhrmann-designed high performance engines had Hirth crankshafts riding on seven cages of 42 roller bearings each. These crankshafts were long-lived in steady, high-rev race-car applications, but less so in street use, where standing starts and running at lower revs induced high wear and ultimately failure. Those traits are reflected today by higher market values on 1959–1965 four-cam Carreras with the more reliable Type 692 1,498-cc/1,587-cc and Type 587 1,966-cc plain-bearing engines. The single sweetest spot in the Porsche GS market right now might be a 1959 356A Carrera carrying a Type 692/1 1,498-cc or 692/2 1,587-cc plain-bearing engine, remembering that Carrera GTs are on entirely different desirability and price curves.
A painstaking rebuild
During restoration, this Carrera was reunited with its original engine, serial number 90914. That was a roller-bearing unit where the provenance of the rebuild was of paramount importance. Fortunately, Gerry McCarthy, a well-known four-cam expert, completely rebuilt the engine with all-new internal parts and carburetors.
Gerry also reported that the Hirth crankshaft, number 407, was sent to Bill Doyle at Rennwagen Motor Company (Jackson, WY) for its rebuild. That combination of McCarthy disassembly, parts sourcing, and re-assembly with a Billy Doyle-rebuilt crank is as good as it gets. For the record, Jon Bunin’s rebuilt gearbox should also be trustworthy for decades.
On a rising tide
What pricing points do we have in the Carrera market? A lovely metallic silver over red interior 1959 Carrera GS sold earlier this year from a prominent Northwest collector for $350,000, but that car was in the “sweet spot” with a matched-number 692/2 plain-bearing engine.
A black 1957 Carrera GS with issues sold (quite well, actually) for $275,000 a few months back. Against that range, our subject car’s factory-specified Rudge wheels added as much as $50,000, thereby compensating for its roller-bearing engine. Lastly, we need to allow for the fact that Carreras are on a rising tide. Collectors and investors seeking shelter in hard assets are finding these cars to be very desirable.
All this said, a confluence of happy events had to come together in the skies over London for the car to have realized that $414,000 price for Nick Clemence, who recently had re-acquired the car from Robin Rennicks in Ireland. That price is likely a landmark result for a roller-bearing GS. Many speculated that the scarce right-hand drive of this 356A Carrera made it unusually attractive to a couple of competing English bidders — until Clemence told us that the car sold to the Continent. This is a good car that was well sold — but not badly bought.
(Introductory description courtesy of RM Auctions.)