In 1959 Porsche concluded the run of the 356A cars, with their distinctive “droopy” front fenders, lower headlights and low bumpers.

Even though the Cabriolet appears to share thepanels of the Speedster, in fact their bodies have almost nothing in common. In further contrast to the Spartan Speedster, the Cabriolet was built with a taller windscreen and raised top frame to accommodate drivers of normal stature, roll-up windows and more comfortable seats. The Cabriolet has the dash and fittings of the coupe, rather than the hooded three-dial instrument panel and austere interior trim and accessories of the Speedster. The luxurious, fully padded top of the Cabriolet is also in stark contrast to the Speedster’s simple unlined cloth top.

Approximately 3,367 356A Cabs were built during its four-year life span (1956-59) and the refined and elegant Cabriolet proved to be nearly as popular as the Speedster. In the US, where the weather was agreeable and racing was a part of the intended use, the Speedster was king. In Europe, the Cabriolet far outsold its stablemate. As a more useable and multi-purposed car, the Cabriolets have always been highly sought after by collectors worldwide.

The example pictured here has benefited from a thorough restoration, which has included a fully rebuilt Super 1600 engine and new tan paintwork with the correct black leather interior. We understand that this lovely example is in fully sorted mechanical condition, is cosmetically excellent and an overall very solid example.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1959 Porsche 356 A Super
Years Produced:1956-59
Number Produced:3,367
Original List Price:$4,360
SCM Valuation:$32,000-$37,000 with Super engine
Tune Up Cost:$300
Distributor Caps:$30
Chassis Number Location:Under front hood on horizontal bulkhead
Engine Number Location:Stamped in rear-most engine case, between generator and crankshaft pulley
Club Info:356 Registry, Barbara Skirmants, 27244 Ryan Rd., Warrren, MI 48092; 810/558-3692
Alternatives:Jaguar XK 140 drophead coupe, Mercedes-Benz 190SL convertible, MGA

The car described here sold for $34,100, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s Arizona Biltmore auction on January 18, 2002.

Color is, of course, an emotive and personal thing, but to my eye it was a pleasure to see this early Porsche painted in something other than white, red, silver or black. However, there did seem to be a touch too much green in the Stone Gray, and it appeared, through a stone chip, that this car might have once been Signal Red.

The car appeared very correct throughout, had excellent door and panel fit (the doors closed with that nice bank-vault “ka-lick” that Porsches are famous for) and was cosmetically hard to criticize.

Being a Cabriolet added to its collector value over a coupe but the more sporting Speedsters are still the darlings of the 356A models. The 1600 Super engine hanging out the back is another bonus. While the 1600 Normal produced 60 DIN brake horsepower at 4,500 rpm, the Super unit was good for 75 horsepower at 5,000 rpm. Fifteen or so horses may not seem like a lot, but it makes a difference in the lightweight Porsche’s scat, upping the top speed from 100 mph to 110 mph and chopping the 0 to 60 time down to the 11-second range. Suspension remained unchanged, with well-developed swing axles at the rear and transverse torsion bars all around. Although some claimed this made for tricky handling, to the adventurous Porsche enthusiast this was yet another skill to be mastered and enjoyed.

As with most all cars of the ’50s, foreign and domestic, rust is the enemy. Rocker panels, door posts, floor pans and the myriad nooks and crannies that give Porsche coachwork such rigidity and integrity are all vulnerable to the dreaded tinworm. This car suffered from no such problems, though, and this was reflected in the selling price.

The new owner of this Porsche bought a nice example at a fair retail market level. The fact that it was offered at an auction that had most people waiting and watching for six-figure bidding may have helped it stay at a rational price level, as happened with several other very clean and show-ready sports cars at the Biltmore that day.—Dave Brownell

Additional notes supplied by Jim Schrager:

This car appeared familiar to me, and upon checking my archives I found it had sold at Barrett-Jackson 2001 for $38,000, and then at Kruse Auburn in Spring of 2001, to a dealer, for $28,090. Thus begins another auction mystery.

Whilenot a Porsche Club concours winner, this is a handsome car, with no apparent needs. Why has it failed to find a permanent home? Will we see it again on another auction block, or has it finally landed, as it deserves, in the hands of an appreciative enthusiast?

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