Without question, the 356 Split-Windshield coupes are an integral milestone in Porsche’s history and are arguably one of the most beautifully styled examples of the 356 models.
The production cars made in Stuttgart prior to March 1952 were distinguished by having a two-piece windshield. In early March 1951, the 4-digit chassis numbering convention Karosseriewerk Reutter & Co. was coming to an end. Porsche transitioned to a 5-digit numbering system because of demand from export markets. Production slowly accelerated up from one car per day for these entirely hand-made steel-body automobiles, with a price tag of $2,369. Max Hoffman, the sole importer of Porsche in the United States, received just three cars in 1950 (two sold to Briggs Cunningham) and 32 cars in 1951. Of the 1,348 Split-Windows that were produced, perhaps 15-20% have survived.
This car, Chassis 5511, is one of the last four-digit Split-Windshields produced on March 6th, 1951, and the 500th Porsche 356 was manufactured shortly thereafter, on March 21, 1951. It was sold brand new to Hans Müller-Kray who was the conductor of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra. It was brought to America by a U.S. serviceman in 1955 after acquiring it from Mr. Müller-Kray.
Chassis 5511 was delivered with the rare early-style grooved aluminum bumper deco trim, reclining passenger seat, and ultra-rare Telefunken Lightning Bolt radio. The Fish Silver Grey Metallic paint that it left the factory in was originally made with real fish scales. When it was discovered on a farm in Hastings, Oklahoma in 1992, chassis 5511 was intact and even had some original paint left on it.
Chassis 5511’s painstaking restoration took thousands of man-hours of research and execution of factory details of how these cars were constructed in 1951. Original components were sourced from around the globe, and as a result, no reproduction components were used in its restoration. As no reproduction sheet metal parts with the correct details exist, a digital scan of chassis 11260 was completed so a wooden body buck could be made in order to fabricate the correct body panels that were necessary to complete the restoration.
In this video, Cam and Tim discuss Chassis 5511, its restoration, and the significance of the model in the Porsche story.