Super Speedster – 1956 Porsche 356A Speedster

1600 Super flat 4One of the more prized and valuable early Porsches, the Speedster was actually conceived as an effort to keep costs down. U.S. importer Max Hoffman, like most, knew that the American market was the most important one for postwar sports car manufacturers, and while Porsche’s 356 was a popular car on both road and track, it was also expensive. Purchase price was usually around $4,000, which put the tiny 356 with its Beetle DNA in the same territory as the bigger, sleeker, more powerful Jaguar XK120. Hoffman suggested to Porsche as early as 1950 that they needed a model priced to compete with the British roadsters that dominated the sports car market in the States. The new Americanized 356 sold without some of the trim and luxuries that drove costs up. The 356 America was the aluminum-bodied roadster that Porsche originally came up with, and it completely missed the mark. Production costs were far too high, and therefore the purchase price did not go down. Despite the commercial failure of the 356 America, Stuttgart kept at it and in 1954 finally came up with what Max Hoffman and, presumably, American motorists wanted.

The new Speedster was essentially a reworked 356 Cabriolet with a lower raked windscreen that could be removed for racing, bucket seats, a basic folding top, and side curtains in place of roll up windows. A spartan interior and clever use of optional extras kept the base price at around $3,000. The Speedster remained the cheapest car in the Porsche lineup until it was replaced in 1958 by the Convertible D.

When Porsche introduced the 356A at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1955, the Speedster benefited from the significant improvements of the 356A, including the enlarged 1582 cc motor, the 1600 Super version of which made 90 horsepower. While the wildest Speedster would be one with the four-cam Carrera motor, a 1600 Super-powered Speedster would be much more usable, not to mention affordable. The car featured here, located in Houston, Texas, is a clean and pampered example of this rare piece of Porsche history.

Originally a California car, it was resorted a few years and 800 miles ago. A very rare combination of the Speedster trim and 1600S engine, it is also finished in a beautiful blue with tan interior. The seller seems to have plenty of documentation, and provides the appropriate numbers. Examples of this darling of early Porsches don’t always come up for sale, and even when they do, they are not always as clean as this one.

Check out the 1956 Porsche 356A Super Speedster here on eBay, where the reserve is not yet met at $166,766.


  1. What a gorgeous car and a special find. Great article, Andrew.

  2. an interesting discussion about the car on the 356 Registry…

  3. Robert Bellows says:

    Having owned a, and raced a 356A super in the fifties, I can say it was a pleasure to drive. The over steer of the 356 was addressed, and made for a much better handling car. Oh how I wish I still had it.

  4. Chuck Pineda says:

    I enjoyed my 356 A until I just got tired of being stranded due to the Clutch cable breaking. I told my mechanic that if it broke again I would get rid of the car. Well, several weeks later taking my girlfriend home and just getting off the freeway the cable snapped again! I was also in class E for competition purposes according to SCCA sportscar categories. I wanted to be in the A Class Category. That class was for Corvettes, Porsche 904’s, AC Cobras, lightweight E-Jaguars, and Griffiths (Series 200).

    It was 1965, and I went to support Scotter Patrick driving a Porshes 904 GTS at Goleta near Santa Barbara, California. There we were all the Porsche supporters with the Porsche Club all hoping that Scotter would beat Shelby’s AC Cobras. Scotter passed up either Dave McDonald or Ken Miles in their superfast Cobras on the second to the last lap at the 1965 Times Gran Prix at Riverside, California.. And we thought, just maybe he’ll take the Cobras.

    We all noticed that a light gray car whose front looked like a Ferrari and the tail looked like a bug had the pole position which, of course, was for the fastest qualifier on Saturday practice. It was being driven by a driver named Tom Lynch, and engineer. The car came from the Griffith Motor Co. in Long Island, New York, and was a GRIFFITH SERIES TWO HUNDRED. No one had heard of the Griffith, however, no one forgot the trashing he gave Ken Miles and Dave McDonald in their factory prepared Shelby AC Cobras for eight laps, or until some car went too far off the track and cause sharp rocks to cover portions of the track. And guess which car reached it first? Yes, Tom Lynch who was pulling away from the Cobras by about twenty to forty car lenghts blowing out his left rear tire and DNF.

    Today, one can look at the Griffith Series 400 ( the heavy duty Cobra, Corvette, Porsche 904 GTS and E-Jaguar killer) on the Internet and see it performed. See: 2011 Silverstone, Gentlemen Drivers, race; 2014 Old Timers Gran Prix, and if you injoy a great British Driver and his oratory see Paul Tooms driving a Lotus Elan which was considered one of the best handling cars of its day competing with Griffith Series 400’s, FIA Cobras, and lightweight E-Jaguars ( 2014 Crofts Guard Trophy race, UK).

    In conclusion, although I loved the performance of the Griffith 200 I just couldn’t buy it because the rear end was so ugly, in my opinion. A few months passed and I received a letter from the Griffith Motor Company who I had earlier contacted and in their correspondance they included a picture of the new GRIFFITH SERIES 400. It was love at first sight! The front still looked Ferrari, however, the rear end was elongated and just beatiful/gorgeous! So, I sold my 356 A Porsche (really an underpowered sportscar), borrowed from my credit union and flew to Levonia, Michigan to bring the 0 to 60 in 3.8 seconds Griffith with a unequaled wishbone suspension all around and four shock absorbers and springs in the rear, the Ford 289 Hi-Po V/8, 400 pounds lighter than a Shelby AC Cobra, a center of gravity below the ground and the engine sitting like a mid engine or at lease eight inches behind of the front axel, and a top speed of 163 mph.

    It would take all day to arrive at 70 miles per hour on the 356 A. And I don’t believe I ever reached 85 plus ever in the four years I had the car.
    Nevada has no speed limit and when I drove through Nevada the Griffith, according to the manual, cruised at 125 miles per hour! I was extremely careful as I had driven at the giant slaloms at Riverside, and I had never driven a car over 85 miles per hour. So, there was plenty of power in reserve, however, it was new speed territory for me. And that’s how the Porsche 356 A was replaced. I wonder where it is at?

    Jack Griffith is now an elderly man and I met him at the 2010 Amelia Island Concourse D’Elegance. And when I see his cars beating the Porshes 904 GTS’s handely, Shelbys AC Cobras, and the Corvettes I just thank him for building a car that could put the PR famous sportscar to shame. I also thank the Lord for giving me the patients to wait for I went to Carrol Shelbys and tried a black AC Cobra and found it to be a very hard ride. The Griffith 400 is a much better ride for I drove it from Michigan to California and just enjoyed it power and handling. See one perform and pass the Lotus Elan S2 ( one of the best handling cars in the world) in the Croft Guards Trophy race in the UK and Paul Tooms.

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