One 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.