A lot of cars can be called classics or highly desirable, but few have achieved the cult following required that they can be called a legend. The Porsche 356A Speedster is one of those such cars.
First produced in Austria from 1948-49 and then in Germany from 1950-55, the 356 was Porsche’s first production car. It was built specifically with speed in mind and, in an era when many other automotive manufacturers were employing larger engines to gain performance, Porsche concentrated on balance and lightness to achieve the same goals. Its elegant but aluminium body was manufactured by hand, weighing 160 kilograms less than the 356 Coupe. The Coupe was developed for the US market and was built only 16 times. In 1956 Porsche debuted a revised version dubbed the 356A, and while it looked reasonably to similar the original 356, a lot of revisions had been made. However, the downside to the new 356A, as well the previous 356 Coupe, was that it was expensive.
Enter US importer Max Hoffman. It was he 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 with only the bare necessities, including ‘Speedster’ in the model name for the first time. ‘Years ahead in engineering, miles ahead on the road’ was the slogan used by Hoffman in his launch advertising campaign for Road & Track magazine (1955). The 356 1500 Speedster quickly caused a sensation in the world of motorsports and became an instant hit in the sunny coastal states of the US, where its basic configuration and lack of advanced weather equipment was more than appropriate and still is to this day. Hollywood icon James Dean also owned a Speedster, only furthering its image. Its most notable features include a low-cut and rounded front windscreen, a lightened body, and special gearing – undoubtedly the primary reasons as to why the Speedster was widely loved by racers. Other unique features included bucket seats and a very simplified dashboard that was inspired by Porsche Spyder race cars that were available at the time. The interior was about as simplistic as it could get, featuring a large, two-spoke steering wheel, three round gauges in the dash, and just a handful of buttons in the entire cabin.
The 356A Speedster was powered by a 1.6-liter flat-four that featured a centre-mounted camshaft and overhead valves. Power was sent to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission. Even though its 60 horsepower is nothing compared to sports cars today, the 356A Speedster was rather light at just 1750 pounds, and that power was enough to propel the car to 60 mph in about 13.9 seconds. A quarter mile took just over 19 seconds, while the car topped out at just 99.4 mph.
The Speedster’s popularity has only strengthened since its introduction in the 1950s and it has become the object of affection for various replica companies in recent years. In the USA, the cost at its release was just 2,995 US dollars. Now, to purchase a genuine Speedster in pristine condition, the price point at auction would be expected to pass half a million dollars.
This fine 1:18 scale model is of the Type 2 (or ‘T2’) variant, revised in 1957 to incorporate its exhausts through the rear bumper over-riders. The Speedster version offered some significant differences to it coupé and cabriolet siblings, with a low removable windscreen for weekend racing, fixed bucket seats and side curtains instead of wind-up windows. The ‘T2’ also benefitted from a number of improvements to the gearbox, clutch and steering which made them easier and more pleasant to drive.
This model of the Porsche 356A has been handcrafted and finished in Amalgam’s workshops with the co-operation and assistance of Porsche regarding original finishes, materials, archive imagery and drawings. The use of supremely accurate digital scanning of the original car has allowed for perfect recreation of every detail at scale. Furthermore, it has undergone detailed scrutiny by both engineering and design teams to ensure complete accuracy of representation. Every Amalgam 1:18 scale model is supplied in a luxury black box with a protective outer carrying sleeve. Each model is mounted on a polished black acrylic base protected by a clear acrylic dust cover. The base holds a booklet containing the certificate of authenticity along with information and collateral material about the car. The model title and original branding is displayed on a polished stainless steel plaque mounted at the front end of the base.