The Porsche Speedster is one of the most valuable and sought-after of the early production Porsches. Sometimes lovingly referred to as the “Bathtub”, these cars have come to represent the best of the 356 series. Porsche built 356 Speedsters between late 1954 and late 1958.
The Speedster was created when Max Hoffman, sole US importer of the marque at the time, asked Porsche in the early ‘50’s to create a low-cost roadster version of the 356 for the US market to compete with the Austin-Healeys, MGs and Triumphs being imported from Great Britain . The Speedster was particularly popular and suited to the climate of Southern California where its cut-down windshield, snap-in side-curtains and minimalist top were perfect for the climate. The windshield was also removable for weekend racing. The cars had light-weight racing seats adapted from those in the 550A and a flat dash with no glove box. Over the four years of production, Speedsters came equipped with 1500 cc, 1600 cc and Carrera engines. The Speedsters were originally targeted to sell for under $3000 and did so, only by making the dash-mounted tachometer an option. Interestingly, no Speedsters were sold without a tach. Weighing-in at 1790 lbs., the Speedster would do 0-60 mph in 10.5 sec., the ¼ mile in 17.1 sec. and had a top speed of 105 mph.
Today, the most valuable Speedsters are equipped with the 100-110 hp. dual-overhead-cam Carrera engine. Only 140 of these were made and sell, at auction, for over $300,000.
The Speedster that AutoArt has chosen to model for us is a 1957-58 car equipped with the 1600 Super engine. This engine was rated at 95 hp and was the popular option for owners wanting to club race their cars.
AutoArt has done a truly magnificent job on this car. The car sits beautifully squat and purposeful and AutoArt has captured the shape of the body, exquisitely. I’m looking at it with a low-angle light and cannot see a paint or body imperfection anywhere. This is the best-of-class paint finish that has become the AutoArt standard. The fineness of the details is off-the-chart. Things like the chrome trim strips that run down the waistline of the car are so fine and delicate……. They’re not separate pieces, but AutoArt has a process that makes them look convincingly real and oh, so perfect. And let’s talk about rubber gaskets…… around the windshield, between the body and the tail light bezels, between the chrome bumper overrides and the painted body and bumper parts….. all beautifully executed ! The sloping nose ornament/bonnet handle is finely molded and applied. The hinges on the bonnet and boot are separate photoetch pieces that are held in place with tiny screws. No crude molded dog-legs here ! On the outside, even the Reueter Coachworks badge behind the front wheel is totally readable…… get out your magnifying glasses, laddies !
The engine is nicely done and goes as far as having separate pieces for the throttle linkage running to each carburetor. When you look at the interior it is equally well done: the seats have wrinkles in the leather cushions testifying to someone logging a lot of wonderful “seat-time” in this little beauty. The steering wheel is an optional Nardi wood wheel made of photoetch spokes and a plastic rim. An incredibly delicate photoetch Porsche badge resides on the passenger’s side dash. Outside, the chrome steel wheels with knock-offs draw attention to the nicely scaled but generic tires.
Am I gushing about this little beauty ? You bet ! As far as I can see, this is the finest execution of a Speedster I have ever seen. It brings the innovations currently being used on more expensively-done cars to this nice upper-middle price range product and the results are beautifully satisfying. I highly recommend this car to anyone.