By Gayvin Powers
Known in the 1954 New York Auto Show as a “snappy Porsche Roadster,” the Porsche 356 Speedster Super soft-top is easily identified with its bent (center-creased) windscreen, produced from 1953 to 1955. The 356 is considered Porsche’s first “production automobile.”
This classic beauty was on display in 2013, the inaugural year of the Concours d’Elegance in Pinehurst, where George Kehler, owner and an emergency-room doctor from Johnson City, Tennessee, won the Porsche class. Prior to making it to Pinehurst, the little car had a big history. Originally, the car was owned by Roberto Reyes, a sports car enthusiast from El Salvador, in 1955. Reyes and the Rodriguez brothers (Pedro and Ricardo) extensively raced the car throughout El Salvador and Guatemala, winning races and setting lap times, including 16-year-old Ricardo Rodriguez, who was clocked with the fastest lap before he lost a wheel in a Porsche 550 RS.
This year, historic and rare autos will be gracing the fairways at the iconic Pinehurst Resort on Friday, May 1, through Saturday, May 2, 2015.
To celebrate the 60th birthday of Kehler’s snappy Porsche Roadster, take a look at some of the Porsche highlights that have transpired over the years. According to Porsche.com, the following is some trivia about the car:
• The 1898 Lohner-Porsche Elektromobil was the first car in the world with brakes on all four wheels.
• Professor Ferdinand Porsche chauffeured Archduke Franz Ferdinand in a Lohner-Porsche in 1902.
• U.S. importer Max Hoffman displayed the first U.S. Porsches in his New York City showroom by late 1950.
• In 1952, U.S. auto maker Studebaker contracted Porsche to develop a new car and engine.
• Hoffman conducted Porsche 356 test drives on Park Avenue, an accomplishment that could not be proficiently duplicated today.
• An exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in 1953 featured 10 automobiles, including a 1952 Porsche 1500 Super.
• The word “Continental” appeared on the side of the 1955 Porsche Coupe and Cabriolet, but only in North America.
• The inaugural Porsche Parade took place in greater Washington, D.C., on Aug. 29, 1956.
• The first appearance of a Porsche at the historic 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race was in 1956, piloted by Hans Herrmann.
• The 1950s Porsche airplane engine (based on the 356Õs 1.6 L) could power a helicopter when mounted vertically.
• Rear seats, headlights, and higher bumpers were the prime accessories fitting a new Porsche in 1960. The starting price for one of these new models was a whopping $3,400.
• The first American citizen to win a Formula One Championship victory at a U.S. track while driving a Porsche was Dan Gurney in 1961.
• Dan Gurney also won Porsche’s first world championship Grand Prix victory at Rouen, France, in 1962.
• At the end of its production in 1965, Porsche 356 models were being produced exclusively for the American market.