|Vehicle:||1960 Porsche 356B Super|
|Original List Price:||$3,600 (1960)|
|Tune Up Cost:||$200|
|Chassis Number Location:||On horizontal bulkhead under front hood|
|Engine Number Location:||Stamped below generator on third piece of alloy engine case|
|Club Info:||356 Registry, 27244 Ryan Road, Warren, MI 48092|
This 1960 Porsche 356B Super Roadster sold for $88,000 at RM’s Vintage Motor Car sale at Amelia Island, FL, on March 10, 2007.
This sale represents either a solid value in the fast-appreciating open 356 market, or a sign that the market is settling down a bit. It is neither a fantastic bargain nor a world record, but if the market continues to appreciate, this will be a good purchase in about a year. If not, the downside should be modest.
Among the 1960-61 356B cars (known as the T-5 body style), the Roadster has emerged as one of the most desirable. Don’t confuse Roadsters with Cabriolets, as both are open cars, but the Roadster has a host of small changes that end up making a big difference in the way the cars appear. The easy way to tell them apart is at the windshield, which is chrome-framed and removable for the Roadster (and for the Speedster and Convertible D), but stamped out of steel and painted body color for all Cabriolets. All 356s with chrome-framed windshields have different doors, rear cowls, tops, and interiors from the Cabriolets. These distinctions have made the sportier open cars more desirable than the heavier, all-weather, and somewhat less handsome Cabriolets.
Roadster versus Speedster debate continues
The Roadster versus Speedster debate is never ending. While some favor the recklessly dashing profile of the Speedster, the Roadster is a far more usable and durable car. So if you are a bit more practical or live outside the Sun Belt, the 356B Super Roadster, with its real top and roll-up windows, makes more sense. The continual mechanical upgrades that came in large measure at the introduction of the 356B series also help to make the Roadster the better car to drive. Nonetheless, the market has long chosen the Speedster, in spite of nearly twice as many being produced, as the more valuable car. This relationship has caused Roadsters, nothwithstanding their excellent road manners and improved mechanical durability, to be available for about 30% less than similar Speedsters.
This 1960 Porsche 356B was finished in the very desirable Metallic Silver livery with a red leather interior; however, we are not told if this is the original color combination. It would be unusual if it were, as most Roadsters were not built to customer order but were purchased by dealers to sell to those looking for the lowest-cost entry point into 356 ownership. As a result, most Roadsters were specified in the “safe” colors of the day-Ivory or one of the two reds (Signal, a light, bright red, or Ruby, a deep, dark shade). Think how many 996s you see in Metallic Silver, today’s color du jour, and you’ll understand how the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Original paint and engine unknown
We also don’t know if the engine and transmission were original to this 356B. This does have an effect on value, and generally, when no mention is made of originality, it is fair to assume the numbers do not match. In today’s hectic 356 market, a car done to “better than new” standards can still do very well, in spite of non-original colors or components. But cars less than perfect do suffer a discount for being at odds with original specifications.
Lately, 356 open cars have been on a tear, and world records are being set frequently. It’s too early to tell if this is the market catching its breath, if there was a thin Porsche crowd at the auction, or if we have coasted over the top. My guess would be there is life left in Roadsters, as they remain one of the ultimate pushrod 356 cars for knowledgeable Porsche buyers. So if this car turns out to be in its original colors with a matching-numbers drivetrain, let’s call it well bought. If not, and it’s just a handsome restoration, it’s a fair deal for everyone. Not a bad set of choices for this outcome.