1953 Porsche 356 1500 Coupe “Pre A”
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1st place Concours Restoration Group Award at 2018 Porsche Parade
1st in Class Restored Category, with Gmund Achievement with 299.8 points
Award-winning 4-year restoration
California car for most of its ownership history
Original matching numbers 1,500cc flat four engine
Meticulous collection of receipts, restoration photos
Copy of Kardex, Porsche Certificate of Authenticity, tools, jack, and spare
“Pre-A” 356s hold a special place in many Porsche driver’s hearts, setting the stage for the future 356 lineage, a design that would be used for more than 15 years. Simple yet elegant, sporty and comfortable, the 356 was a reachable way for someone to get into a capable sports car that was able to drive long distances and win races in. This 1953 Porsche 356 1500 Coupe is just that. Elegant lines paired with an exceptional period-correct color choice, completely restored and winner of Porsche Parade’s Gmund Achievement award, all with an incredible story of Southern California history.
Imported by Max Hoffman, this 356 was purchased by an owner in San Diego, California in the mid to late 1950’s who subsequently sold it to his son. The son drove it for a number of years before selling it to one of his friends, also believed to have lived in the Southern California area. The 356 changed hands among friends for a while before the son re-acquired the car. In 2010, the son’s estate handling his affairs was approached by a Southern California native who was a restorer and fan of 356s, having owned many coupes, roadsters and speedsters throughout his career. The car was mostly complete but had been disassembled in preparation for a restoration some years back, but luckily most of the cars parts (including the matching numbers engine) had stayed with the car. He purchased the 356 and took it back to his warehouse where he would wait and decide what route he would like to go with the car.
In 2015 the restorer made the decision to carry out a no-expense-spared concours-level restoration on the Pre-A coupe. He stripped the paint off of the 356 revealing a solid and original car, with no evidence of accidents with only minimal rust. Adding more to it being a solid car was that it still retained all of its matching body panels, each stamped with number 13. Setting to work, he replaced the floors and longitudinals, as well as the front fender edges. The doors, hood, and decklid were all fitted and adjusted to match the factory settings, and the entire car was completely metal finished. Once the metal work was completed, it received coats of red primer exactly how the factory did with Pre-A production. An original swatch of period-correct Adria Blue paint was sourced and matched, then spraying the color and accenting the 356’s elegance even more.
Wanting both a stunning visual car as well as a performer, every mechanical system in the car was fully addressed for functionality and originality. The matching numbers 1,500cc engine was rebuilt with original pistons and cylinders, and uses correct dual Solex 32 carburetors. The transaxle is the correct 519 style, expertly rebuild by noted transaxle specialist Vic Skirmats. The rest of the car received the same level of attention to detail: brakes and suspension were rebuilt to factory specs, and all of the car’s hardware was correctly plated and installed. This meticulous care for authenticity ensured that nothing was left to chance in being the best it would be. Parts were replaced when needed, but extra special attention was paid to preserving and restoring as many original parts when possible.
Taking extra care in making sure that the car was extremely period correct, an original unrestored 1953 coupe was found and used for interior patterns. The correct style of grey corduroy was sourced, the vinyl pattern was meticulously matched to an original swatch to ensure the correct style. The carpet is the correct earlier boucle style, while the seats are correct in that the passenger side features a restored Kleiper recliner, while the driver’s seat has boomerang hinges. Throughout the entire process items were restored piece by piece, ensuring nothing was overlooked and everything was in concours-presentable condition.
Completing the restoration in 2018, it was a stunning example of a Pre-A 356. He took the car to 63rd annual Porsche Parade in 2018, held at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. His attention to detail and authenticity paid off, where his Adria Blue 356 was awarded 1st in Class for the Restoration Division, and then also recognized as the Concours Restoration Group winner, the highest award for a restored Porsche, achieving a score of 299.8 points of out 300! Due to this, it received a Gmund medal for the highest level of restoration achievement. In August of 2018 it was shown at the Carmel Concours on the Avenue, winning First in Class and was contender for Best in Show. The 356 was also shown at the 2018 Werks Reunion, held by Porsche Club of America, which despite heavy competition still won First in Class against 18 other 356s entered for judging.
Upon arrival at Canepa the 356 was inspected thoroughly from front to back. There was little surprise that this car was a multiple award-winning car, with the attention to detail and quality finishes throughout readily apparent. With the mechanicals well-sorted and the cosmetics in just-restored condition, there was little question of why this car has won so many First in Class finishes. Painted in the stunning period-correct Adria Blue, this “Pre-A” Porsche 356 will undoubtedly go on to win more shows with its new owner, and provide a loyal and reliable companion on the road along the way.
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