There could hardly be a less promising starting point for a sports car than a Volkswagen Beetle with its rear-slung motor and weird swing-axle suspension, and yet today’s 911 is one of the world’s great cars. But its predecessor, so much closer to the original, also proved itself a hugely capable machine and the 356 remains a very desirable collectors’ car. Grooviest of all is the Speedster, with its cut-down windscreen, removable for racing, and clean, minimal appearance – all the things customisers would later be so fond of doing. But this was a factory effort, introduced as a spartan cut-price offering to boost sales in the USA – ironic given that Speedsters now command a premium over standard cars.
This 1957 example, says Anthony Pozner of Hendon Way Motors, came from a private collection and has been restored by a respected Californian Porsche specialist to possibly better than factory condition, with concours wins under its belt. Avoiding the upgrade temptation it remains in original spec, with the correct 60hp 1600cc engine and drum brakes and painted the original metallic blue.
“Although it’s not as powerful as the brilliant four-cam,” says Pozner, “these are light cars so their power to weight ratio is high. They can outperform more powerful cars especially on hills. We do Tour Auto a lot, normally in a 911, but if a 356 gets in your mirrors on a hillclimb it usually stays there!”
A new owner might want to pamper this one for more concours entries, given its faultless condition, but it’s equally ready for fun in action.
“It’s a delight to drive,” says Pozner. “They’re so huggy on the road that you barely have to slow for corners, and when you do the light weight means they’re easy to stop.”
With a hood so low it’s like wearing a full-width hat a Speedster is technically equipped for the weather – but it’s probably best reserved for those days when you’re sure of sunshine…
For sale @Hendon Way Motors London. Tel: 020 8202 8011 www.hendonwaymotors.co.uk
Engine: flat four, OHV, 1600cc, 60bhp
Gearbox: four-speed manual
Torque: 81lb [email protected]
Suspension: front: twin trailing arms, torsion bars. rear: swing axles, torsion bars
Top speed: 99mph
Number built: 3122