Embracing the Open-Air Experience with the 1955 Porsche 356 Pre-A Speedster

Porsche introduced the Speedster in 1954. Inspired by the America Roadster, the aluminum-bodied sports car weighs 160 kilograms (make that nearly 353 pounds) less than the fixed-head coupe. Porsche importer Max Hoffman is the gentleman who convinced the Stuttgart-based automaker to develop the Speedster.

He requested an inexpensive design for the U.S. market, a canvas-topped sports car with a boxer engine and little in the way of amenities to keep the starting price as low as possible.

The Stuttgart-based automaker was much obliged to develop the low-cost roadster at Hoffman’s behest, with the 1500-engined Speedster costing 2,995 dollars. Adjusted for inflation to 2022 dollars, which means $33,180.

By comparison, the 1954 model year Corvette used to retail at $2,774 (circa $30,730 adjusted for inflation). But as opposed to the Speedster, the Corvette left much to be desired in terms of handling. Chevrolet made it worse by ignoring this problem with chrome trinkets, but worse still, the C1 offers little room between the driver’s lap and the steering wheel.

Turning our attention back to the Speedster, famous owners include the one and only James Dean thanks to its purist character that puts driving pleasure above everything else.

The Speedster would reach its peak in 1957 with the 1500 GS Carrera GT Speedster, which produced 110 ps (108 hp) from a vertical shaft engine. It was the first series-production Porsche to hit 200 kilometers per hour (124 miles per hour) fully stock.

Also worthy of note, Max Hoffman convinced Ferry Porsche that the 356 needs an emblem. While dining at a New York restaurant in 1952, the son of Ferdinand Porsche grabbed a napkin, drew the Baden-Wurttemberg crest, then wrote Porsche across the top.

Austrian engineer Franz Xaver Reimspiess refined the design upon Ferry’s return to Germany. To whom it may concern, FXR also came up with the Volkswagen logo in 1937.

The Speedster we’re covering today is a Pre-A specification, one of very few produced between 1950 and 1955. Built on November 8th, 1955, chassis number 81048 was distributed by… wait for it… the Hoffman Motor Company in New York.

Originally finished in blue, the Reutter-bodied cruiser was repainted in black under previous ownership. Acquired by the selling dealership earlier in 2022, the fabulous-looking sports car had its four-pot engine replaced with a Type 616/2 1.6-liter boxer joined by twin carburetors, Knecht air filters, and a 12V electrical conversion.

The 12V battery was also replaced in preparation for the sale. Additional work includes a repaired fuel tank fitted with a rebuilt petcock, a stainless-steel exhaust muffler, the replacement of the fuel pump, hoses, filters, and clamps, as well as the replacement of various ignition components.

Reupholstered in green leather, the Pre-A Speedster in the photo gallery further boasts green square-weave carpets, a gold dash badge, a white banjo-style steering wheel, and 16-inch steelies mounted with 165/80s.

Listed on Bring a Trailer with 48,868 miles (78,645 kilometers) on the clock, this blast from the past is certain to sell for a ridiculous amount of money given the rarity of the Pre-A Speedster. Offered as part of DriverSource’s Oktmotorfest Collection, the vehicle currently sits on a high bid of $295k.

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