Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Porsche 356 Speedster

The Porsche 356 Speedster is one of the most desirable models ever to come out of Zuffenhausen. Max Hoffman's perfect vision of a low-cost, somewhat spartan soft-top sold well in America. The beautiful aerodynamic shape reminds you of an inverted bathtub. The Speedster with a low, raked windscreen, removable for weekend racing, simple bucket seats and minimal folding top was an instant hit, especially in Southern California. It was a lightweight and nimble handling rear-wheel-drive 2 door sports car. Like the Volkswagen Beetle, the other most famous of Dr. Porsche's designs, the Porsche 356 had a rear mounted air cooled pushrod OHV flat-4 engine. So inticing was it that several movie stars, including Steve McQueen, had to have one.

Except for the excessively rare 50 Gmünd cars manufactured in Austria for about two years, the Porsche 356 was built in Zuffenhausen near Stuttgart from 1950 to 1965. The Porsche 356, close to stock or highly modified, has enjoyed much success in rallying, the 24 hours of Le Mans, the 1000 km Buenos Aires, the Mille Miglia, the Targa Florio, the Carrera Panamericana, as well as many other important car racing events.

Original surviving Speedsters are highly sought after and the few mint examples remaining command premium prices, if you can find an owner willing to part with his.

So popular is the model that several companies offer "replica" Speedsters based on the venerable Volkswagen Beetle as it's platform. The simple design and the family DNA makes these replicas so convincing that only true Porsche-philes can distinguish between a copy or the real McCoy.

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