Porsche 356 1500 Speedster (1955)
Open-top driving pleasure combined with outstanding driving dynamics: Speedster variants have been part of the Porsche company history since 1952. They combine open-top driving pleasure with outstanding driving dynamics. The forefather of all these models is the 356 America Roadster. Its aluminium body was manufactured by hand at Erich Heuer Karosseriefabrik in Ullersricht near Weiden in Upper Palatinate, Germany. Thanks to its expensive lightweight body, it weighed 160 kilograms less than the 356 Coupé and its top speed of 180 km/h from its 70 PS four-cylinder boxer engine was impressive at the time. The exclusive sports car, developed for the US market and built only 16 times, already featured key elements of the Speedster design with slot-in windows for the doors, a folding rain-cover top and lightweight bucket seats.
It was the US importer Max Hoffmann who convinced Porsche there was a market for their cars in America. He requested an inexpensive Porsche with reduced furnishings costing less than 3,000 dollars. In autumn 1954, Porsche produced a significantly less expensive version than the 356 America Roadster, which included ‘Speedster’ in the model name for the first time and quickly caused a sensation in the world of motor sports. It combined the sheet steel body of the cabriolet with a raked windscreen, reduced interior equipment and a rain top. In the USA, the 356 1500 Speedster cost just 2,995 US dollars and became an instant hit in the sunny coastal states. Hollywood icon James Dean was also an enthusiastic racing driver and chose this purist model, which was dedicated solely to the sheer pleasure of driving. Further generations of the 356 Speedster followed. The model reached its peak in 1957 with the 356 A 1500 GS Carrera GT Speedster: Its 1.5-litre vertical shaft engine produced 110 PS. It was the first production model from Porsche that reached a top speed of 200 km/h.