Porsche’s American importer, Max Hoffman, had a notion that there was a market for an open-top, stripped-down model that would appeal to those in the U.S. who lived in the sunny coastal states. He proposed the idea to Ferry Porsche, and luckily Ferry obliged, and the Speedster was born. The construction of hand-built cars with aluminum coachwork was out of the question, so the early-production Speedster was based on a cut-down version of the 356. An easily removable raked windshield and rain top with side curtains replaced a conventional folding top and wind-up windows to save weight and on the overall cost. The spartan interior had little more than lightweight fixed back bucket seats, a speedometer, and temperature gauge. Upon its release, it was an instant hit with purists and racers alike. Hollywood superstar and avid racer James Dean chose to drive one for its emphasis on driving pleasure, something that only bolstered the popularity of the model.
This 1958 Speedster was discovered in an abandoned lot in Vero Beach some 35 years ago by Elaine Gale. Chassis 84678 was originally finished in Silver Metallic over a black leatherette interior. After purchasing it, they enlisted Harvey and Linda Smith to have the numbers matching Speedster restored to its former glory. The Smiths were two key figures in the “Golden Era” of the Porsche Parade Concours, where they competed for Division Wins and the sought-after Manhattan Trophy against the top Porsche restorers of the time- names such as Tim Goodrich, John Paterek, Tom Scott, Weldon Scrogham, and Gary Kempton.
The Smiths worked diligently for nearly two years straight on the Speedster’s restoration to finish it in time for the 1992 Porsche Parade in Boston. Its new color scheme was Fjord Green over a tan leather interior, and the completed restoration did not disappoint, as the car was awarded the People’s Choice award in its first outing. A year later, it was entered into the Porsche Parade in Cincinnati and was awarded the Division win in the Full Concours Class. 15 years later, the Speedster was prepared for the 2007 Porsche Parade in San Diego and scored an impressive 288 of 300 points, a testament to the quality of the Smith’s restoration.
The Speedster was a staple of the Ingram Collection for some time before changing hands in 2010. Today, some 28 years after its original restoration, the Speedster presents beautifully thanks to the care of its subsequent owners and would certainly still be a welcomed contender on the show circuit.
Restored by Harvey and Linda Smith
People’s Choice Award – 1992 Porsche Parade
1st in Class – 1993 Porsche Parade
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