The Roadster pictured here is a Drauz-built 50,000-mile California car. It was meticulously and comprehensively restored by a Porsche specialist. Presented in Fjord Green with a brown interior, a tan cloth top and chrome wheels, it has seen little use since restoration. Part of a 50-car collection, this 356 has been consistently and professionally maintained in a climate-controlled environment. Still essentially perfect, it is ready to satisfy its new owner on show fields, weekend drives or in today’s popular and numerous historic tour events.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1960 Porsche 356B roadster

This 356B Roadster sold at RM’s Amelia Island auction in Florida on March 10, 2001, for $63,800 including buyer’s premium. It was described as being in very nice condition overall, with good panel gaps. The only negative was a few small rust bubbles in the bottom of the driver’s door. If the odometer reading (53,068) is accurate and original, the numbers match and the quality of the restoration is consistently high throughout the car, the price is just outside the high end of the current market range.

The B Roadster sits in a desirable position among the many and varied 356 models since it is a direct descendant of the original Speedster, yet has most of the upgrades made to the final editions of the 356 line. It was the last Porsche designed to be driven to the track, have its windshield unbolted, raced, reassembled and driven home.

While Porsche made Cabriolets from the very beginning of production, it was the Speedster line, first introduced for the 1955 model year, that opened new horizons for the young auto manufacturer. A stripped-down, lightweight model with laughable weather protection, it was extremely competitive in its class in SCCA racing and captured the imagination of the public through appearances in movies like “The Hustler.”

In mid-1958 the Speedster was retired. It was renamed the Convertible D (the D referring to its body builder, Drauz, in Heilbron, Germany), and uprated with a new, higher windshield, roll-up windows, regular coupe-type seats and a roomier top. The body and chassis of the Convertible D were the same as the Speedster, but the refined cockpit made the car far closer to the Porsche ideal of everyday, all-weather use so central to the marque’s image in Europe. The 356A Cabriolet continued as Porsche’s touring, rather than performance, model.

For the 1960 model year, Porsche introduced the 356B models with a host of sweeping changes aimed at reliability, durability and drivability. The completely revised Convertible D was now called the Roadster. The top and windshield were nearly identical to the Convertible D but sat atop a body that had all the redesigned elements of the 356B models.

Mechanical updates of the 1960 B models over earlier Speedsters included bigger oil pumps, stronger connecting rods, improved shift linkages, finned brake drums, tapered roller bearings for the front axles, improved ZF steering gearboxes and the availability of the high-horsepower Super 90 engine with a counterbalanced crankshaft.

The nomenclature of the 356 Speedster can be confusing. In essence, the Speedster, which evolved into the Convertible D, finally became the 356 Roadster. One performance model, three name variations (Speedster/Convertible D/Roadster). Just to add to the confusion, the final 356 body style was introduced with two engine cooling grilles, leading to the term twin-grille Roadster, used only for the 1962 models (all 1960 and ’61 356Bs have a single grille on the engine lid).

For 356 cognoscenti, the Roadster is a natural choice, representing the last of the Speedster line with all of the 356B improvements. While Cabriolets shared the mechanical upgrades, once the two are viewed side-by-side, the superior beauty of the Roadster is apparent. The Roadster has, in addition to its chrome-framed windshield, different doors, a different rear cowl and a different top. The differences are subtle but unmistakable, resulting in the lighter and sportier look of the Roadster.

Porsche 356s were built to be used on a daily basis, so true low-mileage cars like this are hard to find. As for the corrosion observed, the rust-proofing was so primitive in this era that even otherwise dry, perfect cars can develop rust bubbles at the bottoms of the doors, but this is not difficult to repair. Therefore, given the low miles, even with the bit of isolated rust, the price paid was not out of range for an exceptional machine. Top-notch 356s are continuing to bring prices not seen since the late ’80s, as collectors seek out the best of the best.—Jim Schrager

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