Introduced in 1948, the 356 was Porsche’s first production car. Inspired by his father’s design for the VW Beetle, “Ferry” Porsche developed his concept for a small car with more power with an all-new chassis and body, and an evolution of the 4-cylinder, air-cooled, rear-engined, rear-wheel drive layout.
The car was a great success with its lightweight and nimble performance, leading Porsche to continue to produce variants of the 356 up until 1965. Alternatives to the original coupe included open top models such as the Speedster, Convertible D and Roadster.
Our 356B Roadster is a remarkable ‘survivor’ car, remaining all original and largely untouched from when it was new in 1960. As such, it could be said to be amongst the most original examples in the world today. This is a unique opportunity to own a truly, reference quality car.
Chassis number: 88121
Engine: 1.6-litre OHV flat 4-cylinder
Gearbox: 4-speed manual
Colour: Ruby Red
The first 356 was registered on 8 June 1948 and enjoyed immediate racing success with a class victory on its debut at Innsbruck. A strong reception ensured the 356 would soon build a reputation both in Europe and North America for its build quality and handling. By 1964, annual production of the 356 had risen to more than 10,000 units, with a total of 76,000 cars built by the end of 356 production the following year.
It was in late 1954 that Porsche were convinced to produce the ‘Speedster’ on the advice of chief US importer, Max Hoffman, who recognizedrecognised the need of for a more affordable, stripped-back, open top version for the American market. With its minimalist equipment and low windscreen, the ‘sportier’ Speedster found instant popularity, particularly in California.
By 1958, sales of the Speedster had diminished and Porsche turned to the more tourer-friendly practical Convertible D with its taller windscreen, roll-up glass side windows and less sparse seats. This was soon succeeded by the similar Roadster, with over 2,600 examples built by the Drauz company in Heilbronn under the banner of the 356B during 1960/61.
Our LHD Roadster chassis ‘88121’ is an original, Drauz-manufactured car delivered new to Max Hoffman Motors in New York. One of 1,529 Roadsters built in 1960, it was first registered in June, and is recorded to have had only two owners from new in the US in the Los Angeles area., before being discovered and brought to the UK in 2016 by renowned specialists, J D ClassicsIt was brought to the UK in 2016.
Having spent the majority of its life in the car-friendly climate of Southern California, this Roadster has certainly stood the test of time and, with the exception of an extensive and sympathetic overhaul two years ago by leading marque specialists Maxted-Page, the car remains largely ‘untouched’ and as it left the factory.
Now registered as ‘492 UYP’, the car has seen minimal use since arriving in the UK. Still adorned in its original ‘Ruby Red’ paint, the car boasts a stunning and original patina. There are a number of the traditional Drauz stampings of the car’s original chassis number throughout the bodywork, whilst the car retains its original tools and books, and continues to drive confidently.
A direct descendant of the illustrious ‘Speedster’, the 356B Roadster undoubtedly retains the special sporting ethos of that earlier, stripped-down, track-focused model put forward by Max Hoffman to Porsche. However, like its immediate predecessor, the Convertible D, with its refined interior, taller windscreen, winding glass windows and cushioned seating, the Roadster is a far more practical proposition for today’s classic motorists. With considerably fewer Convertible D and Roadsters produced in period, these cars are a rarer commodity than the Speedster.
With current high prices of the Speedster, a Roadster such as our 1960 example offers tremendous value, especially given its unrepeatably original condition. Still mechanically sound, its almost 60-year history is evident in each and every mark and bump of the bodywork and makes this a very special car and one that must be preserved in this wonderful ‘time capsule’ state.
A true reference car that we would certainly be proud to own ourselves.