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Automobiles | RM Sotheby's

Connoisseur’s Convertible: Subtle Differences Make the 356 A Convertible D the Porschephile’s Pick

By Forest Casey
Coachbuilt with comfort in mind, the Convertible D is a rare way to experience Porsche performance.

H eading into summer in 1958, Porsche faced a prime problem for a young sports car company to have. The Stuttgart-based firm’s unique style of sports car was starting to catch on. Customer orders from Europe and America were flowing in, though tastes differed considerably between markets. Unlike their American counterparts, during that period, the European-based Porsche clientele preferred a more comfortable experience than could be offered by the then-current Speedster.

Porsche needed to both replace their venerable Speedster and secure a second, still-reliable source of production. Their solution was a new model, the so-called 356 A Convertible D, built by a hometown firm: Karosseriewerke Drauz KG. Porsche could not have anticipated that their collaboration with Drauz would end a mere 1,331 examples later, making examples like this 1959 Porsche 356 A 1600 S Convertible D one of the rarest non-motorsports models ever to wear the famous Stuttgart crest.

Prized today for its drivability in a multitude of settings—from road to racetrack—as much as its rarity, according to its accompanying Kardex, this particular Porsche 356 A Convertible D was originally specified with the 1600 Super engine (hence the “1600 S” designation). The records show that it left the factory in Stuttgart on 12 June 1959 and was delivered six days later to its first owner in Santa Cruz, California. Having come on the heels of the stripped-out Speedster, Porsche initially planned a similarly sparse equipment package for the Convertible D, offering an ashtray and zigarrenanzünder (cigar lighter), or electronic clock, and the all-important reclining seats only as special order options—all of which were specified on this example.

Unlike the racing-style seats of the Speedster, the reclining seats allow the Convertible D to conform to the driver, rather than the other way around. And yet the improved driving position is not the only benefit Drauz brought to the Convertible D. Astute observers will notice that the convertible top sports a different structure and design than the chopped down Speedster, especially easy to notice where the top meets the windshield. Once you notice the windshield, the purpose behind the Convertible D clicks into place, with extra emphasis on “Convertible.”

Porsche intended the Convertible D as a true weekend racer, a car which would comfort the driver during the workweek, and then thrill at the track on Saturdays and Sundays. The key to this was a windshield that, once a pair of bolts were loosened, could be completely removed for weight savings and a more dynamic driving experience. Impossible to offer today due to safety regulations; top-tier automakers like Ferrari and McLaren are just starting to make windshield-free weekend racers for their best clients; none of them can match the practicality of the Convertible D.

Truly uncommon today, this example is the proud product of a meticulous restoration process overseen by its current owner. NOS and restored original parts were used in the restoration process; the originality of this example shines brightly, down to the “Hella” logos on the perfectly preserved headlight covers. In a final, most tasteful stroke, this rare Porsche received a handsome Stone Grey over Oxblood Red interior color combination, perfectly complimenting its Chocolate Brown canvas top. No wonder, then, that it was chosen as a class winner by the judges of Concours on the Avenue during Monterey Car Week in 2009.

Possessing genuinely uncommon pedigree for a production car, this 1959 Porsche 356 A 1600 S Convertible D is truly the connoisseur’s choice for either driving or collecting: equally enjoying and preserving for the next generation. For an extensive gallery of images, a full description of the vehicle on our Private Sales page, and to view an extensive history file, please click here.

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