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12 May 2016

Porsche 356 Speedster



Text and Photos: Reinis Babrovskis

No doubt about it – The Porsche 356 Speedster is the greatest convertible ever made by the mankind, along the great British icon Jaguar E-Type, that is. There is just something indescribably magical about the curved lines and those distinct headlights of the Speedster that place it above anything else ever produced. It is any man’s dream to take a car of his dreams for a drive on an iconic stretch of road, with the wind blowing, sun shining and the engine roaring loudly - it’s what the life is all about; and that’s exactly what we did for the photo shoot of Mike’s 1957 Porsche 356 Speedster.

The Roadster version of the Porsche 356 was designed in the 50’s to save some manufacturing cost on the unified body; however unintentionally losing the roof was the best thing Porsche could have done. The curvy shape convertible with the ultra-low front windscreen, beautiful coach-build and air cooled engine was an instant hit, particularly in the warmer climate places like USA. 

That is exactly where Mike sourced the left hand drive 1957 Porsche 356 Speedster from, all the way from sunny California. Being such a fashion icon as you can imagine, the demand for these cars was enormous back in the 1950’s; it is colossal now. The prices of these cars rocketed sky high, with some of the best examples selling for €300,000 upwards. 
Due to the popularity and demand a few automotive manufacturers in the 1970’s decided to offer an affordable version of this iconic German automotive phenomenon. Soon after the Speedster replica was born. Mike’s Speedster was built by the most reputable “Vintage Speedsters”. It has been registered as a 1957 Porsche Convertible with the age related registration number: IG 4292 by the DVLA.
The early manufacturers used a shortened VW pan for the base of the replica without adequately reinforcing it. This led to the infamous “jack test”: if one were to lift the car with a jack, due to the body flex, the car doors would no longer close properly. Luckily there were a few auto builders that never gave up and came up with a better plan.
Vintage Speedsters is the world's largest manufacturer of the timeless Speedster. The company builds more than 90% of the speedsters being sold today, with their first replica produced in 1988. The California based company engineered a new type of reinforced structure to prevent the chassis from bending. Vintage Speedsters used a custom built, jig welded, 2x4 inch 11-gauge steel frame. An original VW pan gets restored, shortened and welded to a new steel skeleton. The rigid new structure retains the original VW pan design and integrates the largest frame possible. All of their custom built Speedsters easily pass the “jack test. 
The reverse bath tub like shape of the 356 Speedster is one of the most unsophisticated and timeless designs that will never get old. With minimal touches like headlight grilles and chromed bumper guards, it’s everything the car needs to enhance the beautifully designed front end. The curved lines continue along the side of the car and fall off nicely at the rear. The chrome wheels hiding inside the arches finish the exterior exquisitely. 
The simplicity of the 356 design also continues inside the Speedster. The retro gauges, Porsche steering wheel, a stunning red leather interior and wooden Porsche gear selector are just some of the details that immediately stand out. The steering wheel is offset slightly of course, just as the original Speedster.

The car is also equipped with some upgraded speakers; however, to retain the original look the CD player is hidden under the dash to play those summer tunes when driving topless (without the roof I mean).

The 356 is equipped with the 1776cc air-cooled VW engine linked up to the 3.88 transmission so it is a great little cruiser. The speedster has also received more modern front disc brakes. It drives beautifully and turns heads wherever it goes.
Sadly due to already having a number of iconic cars, Mike has decided to part with this and a new project is already on its way. If you would be interested in owning this cult car please contact Mike via mike@starcarhire.co.uk


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