In the early 1950s, Max Hoffman, the New York based importer of luxury European cars and Porsche’s sole importer to the USA, famously suggested to Ferry Porsche that there was a growing desire amongst his customers for a simpler (less expensive) open top 356 with a sportier feeling than the coupe and cabriolet that were initially available.
Porsche used the existing 356 coupe chassis as a base for the new Speedster, making numerous changes included a cut-down low rake windscreen – easily removed for racing – as well as a simplified hood that featured detachable side screens instead of conventional windows. The interior was stripped of many comforts such as a radio and heater as well as a tachometer which all became optional extras. Bucket seats helped to reduce weight and instrumentation consisted solely of a speedometer and temperature gauge.
The first 200 Speedsters were delivered in 1954 with a further 1,700 the following year before the model received its first upgrade as the 356A, when a larger 1,600cc engine was fitted. Cars built prior to this upgrade are referred to as “Pre-A” and are regarded by many as the purest and hence most desirable of all Speedsters.
Chassis 80863 was purchased new from Anderson Motors, a Porsche & VW dealership in San Jose, California by Richard Mathews in 1955. He subsequently sold the car to William Grierson in 1972 who would go onto to own it for 40 years. The car was sold to him with the engine removed and stripped which is how it remained for the entirety of his 45 years of ownership.
Mr Grierson clearly intended to rebuild and use the car as he continued to pay the annual registration until 1977, the original receipts for which are still with the car to this day. In 2017, the current owner achieved his lifelong dream of owning a Porsche Speedster, specifically a Pre-A in original condition, when he found this car. Having failed to find what he wanted through the usual sources, he placed an advertisement on an enthusiasts’ forum and was rewarded a couple of months later with the details of this car.
The car was in exceptional condition, with all the original engine components and the car’s spares intact after the period in dry storage. It was imported to the UK whereupon 356 experts PRS Services rebuilt the engine and overhauled the brakes. It has had a sheltered life since, albeit with regular use on good days.
The car has obviously been repainted once, most probably in the 60’s in its original colour of Speedster White, however, evidence of the original paint remains in the door shuts, hinge plates and engine compartment. The car maintains its full matching numbers – engine, gearbox, engine lid, luggage comp lid and doors – and its original upholstery to the seats, doors and dash. Furthermore, numerous original and rare items remain such as the 1955 one year only jack, full toolkit, Pre A handbook and car care hand book, with Speedster pull out supplement / diagrams.
chassis number: 80863
engine number: 35731
gearbox number: 7036
original colour: Speedster White with Red interior
build date: September 1955
- simply, the most original Speedster that we have seen
- full matching numbers and highly original interior
- just two previous owners
- with a full set of tools and rare supporting documents