The Speedster was first launched in 1954 after lobbying from Porsche’s American dealers. The 356 on which it was based was expensive compared to the British and American competition, and chief US importer Max Hoffman argued for a simpler, cheaper version. Porsche’s designers responded and the result was the epitome of cool. A small, light sports car that was perfectly suited to a sunny climate. Unsurprisingly, it flew out of Californian showrooms but given the slightly vestigial nature of the roof, few Speedsters were sold in the UK and consequently only 54 right hand drive cars were made, almost all of which went to Australia and South Africa.
From the moment the Speedster went on sale, owners started racing them. Lighter and more aerodynamic than the coupe version of the 356, they were immediately competitive despite the relatively modest power output from the pushrod engine. At the same time, Porsche was using international motor racing to develop its cars and promote its engineering excellence.
The Carrera name famously came from Porsche’s notable successes on the Carrera Panamericana road race, probably the most dangerous and difficult race in the world at the time, albeit also a round of the World Sports Car Championship. After class wins in 1952 and 1953, the fabled 550 Spyder sports racing car featuring the four-cam engine achieved 3rd and 4th place overall finishes in 1954. This was a terrific result for these cars would become a proud part of the Porsche model branding that remains to this day.
While the combination of the more affordable Speedster and the more expensive four-cam motor might seem odd, it makes sense in the context of the success of the car in club racing worldwide and Porsche would go on to produce some 152 examples of the Speedster with derivations of the four-cam “Carrera” engine fitted.
Whilst transforming the car into a much more exciting specification, this also almost doubled the price of the resulting model, termed the “Carrera GS”, and 152 were sold – roughly half in standard “Luxe” trim and half in minimalist “GT” form. The engines yielded 100 hp which was around a 30% improvement on the most powerful pushrod. The GT specification cars had tuned carburettors and exhausts which lifted power by a further 10 hp.
Chassis 83727 was built in September 1957 towards the end of the production of T1 356A cars. It was delivered new to a wealthy Australian hotelier named Irvin Rockman.. The car changed hands several times in Australia in the 50s and 60s and was owned for several years by Sydney-Hobart yachtsman and Porsche collector Warwick Miller. It lost its original four-cam engine no. 90885 along the way when it became unserviceable and was donated as an exhibit to a technical college.
In 1982 the car was bought by Trevor Keetley who decided to restore it with a colour change to silver. He found a Type 547/1 four-cam engine in the US from another 1957 Carrera Speedster and with an engine number (No. 90897) just a couple of digits from the original. This engine was factory supplied in GT specification and it is understood that Keetley had well-known 4-cam expert Jim Wellington of Rennsport Werk rebuild it. Keetley continued the GT theme with the rest of the car, installing an 80-litre fuel tank, 60 mm front brakes, Sebring exhaust, roll bar, simplified bumper trim, Derrington wood steering wheel and Spyder wing mirror. He displayed the finished car at various Australian events, winning several awards. In the late 90s, Keetley sold the car back to Warwick Miller who owned it for a further decade.
The current owner is a well-known aficionado of the right-hand drive four-cam 356, owning up to five at one point in time. He bought the car in 2011 and imported it to the UK. Well-known UK Porsche specialists Sportwagen were selected for the task of refurbishment, with project taking 1,200 hours and 18 months to complete.
The owner decided to keep the car in Keetley’s attractive GT specification and continuing in that vein had Sportwagen fit an exact copy of a Carrera GT engine lid with its external louvres and carburettor cowls. The original engine lid which retains the matching chassis stamping was also repainted and comes with the car.
The car was finished in 2014 and immediately won Best in Show at the UK’s premier classic Porsche gathering, Classics at the Castle, at Hedingham. In 2018 it was shown at the Salon Privé Concours at Blenheim Palace where it also won several awards.
Specification and Condition
Having been in a dry climate for much of its life, the car retains most of its factory panels, including the stamped bonnet support and engine lid. While the engine is a correct period replacement, the gearbox is original to the car.
The Sportwagen restoration was completed to the most exacting standards. The car has been used regularly but carefully since and still presents in concours-winning condition. The panel fit is exceptionally good and the paintwork is flawless and unmarked.
The car has been regularly maintained by Maxted Page & Prill and Jaz Porsche, both well respected UK classic Porsche specialists and has been fully inspected and serviced immediately prior to sale, with a precautionary top end engine rebuild as part of the works undertaken.
chassis number: 83727
engine number: 90897 (originally 90885)
gearbox number: 16113
original colour: Ruby Red with black vinyl seats and oatmeal carpets
build date: 3 September 1957
- the ultimate example of the quintessential early Porsche sports car
- one of only 3 Carrera Speedsters made in right hand drive
- full restoration completed by Sportwagen in 2014
- Type 547/1 four-cam GT engine, recently serviced and refreshed
- perfect, concours-winning condition from an exceptional collection of four-cam Porsche cars