1957 Porsche 356A 1500 GS Carrera Coupé ‘Goldfinger’Coachwork by Reutter
Racing was core to Porsche’s being.
From Dr. Porsche’s early work with Mercedes through the Auto Unions of the Thirties and the ground-breaking post-WWII Cisitalia, racing proved developments for road cars, promoted the marque and demonstrated the validity and effectiveness of Porsche’s designs. The history of Porsche racing is integral with Porsche history.
Not even ten years after the end of hostilities Porsche built on the success of its modified production 356 models with the 550, a mid-engined design powered by a highly-tuned version of the pushrod 1500 Super engine. It proved the concept by winning its class at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1954.
Simultaneously a small team in Zuffenhausen led by Ernst Fuhrmann began a new, pure Porsche engine. It owed only its four horizontally opposed cylinder layout to the Volkswagen from which pushrod Porsches traced their ancestry. Designated the Type 547, it had dual overhead camshafts, 39 degree valve included angle, 48mm intake and 41mm exhaust valves, a roller bearing crankshaft, dry sump lubrication, dual ignition and an extremely over-square 1.288:1 ratio of bore to stroke, 85x66mm.
These were fitted to a revised 550 chassis with Erwin Komenda-designed bodywork, beginning a series that rewrote racing record books and firmly established Porsche as the supplier of track-ready racing cars which it remains today.
With the evolution of the original Type 356 Porsche into the much-improved Type 356A in 1955 the merger of Porsche racing with Porsche production was nearly complete. Fuhrmann had contemplated, and accommodated, the engine space of the 356 in designing the 547 four-cam engine. Four-cam engines had been circulating around Zuffenhausen since 1954 in the works’ engineering test car and in Ferry Porsche’s cabriolet. At the Frankfurt Show in September 1955 the new 356A Porsche was joined on the stand by a ‘Carrera’ Porsche with a modified four-cam engine designated 547/1.
Initially production was scant, but in 1957 Porsche introduced a new and further improved Carrera. This de luxe version, designated the 356A 1500 GS Carrera, represented Porsche’s ascendance to competition with Europe’s finest builders of luxury granturismo automobiles.
Powered by the 100hp 547/1 four-cam engine and weighing just over 2,000 pounds, it had improved heating and more highly developed Solex 40 PII-4 carburettors with 30mm venturis. 34mm venturis added five more horsepower. The 1500 GS was well appointed, comfort and convenience that was further enhanced mid-year with the introduction of the new T-2 body.
Produced in limited quantities for just four years, only 225 GS Carrera coupés were built. They are the pinnacle of performance, luxury and exclusivity of Porsche’s long-lived original series of 356 models, combining comfort, quality, rarity, style and performance in a singularly valuable and appreciated automobile.
Denis Jenkinson commented in Motor Sport, “One of the joys of the normal Carrera Porsche is the way it charges forward when you change from peak in third into top, making a glorious hard growling noise from behind.”
Those characteristics are vivid in this early T-2 bodied 1957 Porsche 356A 1500 GS Carrera coupé.
It was delivered in May 1957 through Bremen, Germany dealer Schmidt & Koch equipped with Becker Mexico radio, antenna, turn indicators, fog lights and dashboard clock. It is accompanied by copies of its original Porsche Kardex verifying its equipment and also describing it as delivered with the non-standard gold colour and beige leatherette upholstery in which it has recently been meticulously and accurately restored.
The T-2 body is distinguished not only by the new chassis number sequence introduced in May 1957 but also by its teardrop taillights, low rear license plate light and wind wings attached to the door window frame outside the rollup side glass.
After several owners in Germany it was acquired a few years ago by the present Italian owner as a restoration project. He entrusted it to the best and most respected Porsche restoration specialists in Italy including Carrozzeria Cremonini who completely stripped it to the bare shell, then meticulously returned each and every component to original condition. Minute attention to details of finishes, fits and accuracy are apparent in the exhaustively photo documented record of the restoration.
Over 100,000€ were spent on the car, much of it in a careful rebuild of its intricate 547/1 four-cam engine, Solex carburettors, transaxle and many ancillary components critical to its correct, as-built configuration. Like many four-cam Porsches the engine and ‘box have been replaced with units of the correct type during its lifetime.
Recently completed, it is a concours quality example of one of the earliest Porsche Carreras, resplendent in the gold livery – matching Porsche’s gold-finished Carrera identification – that has been carefully duplicated in restoration, a Porsche that will attract attention in any lineup of Porsche’s finest creations and, importantly, the perfect Mille Miglia entry given its all-important May 1957 build date. The beige leatherette interior trim and upholstery is invitingly complemented by matching cord cloth seat inserts and brown leather dashboard with matching brown door accents.
It is equipped as it was delivered including rare fog lamps, turn indicator lights and glove box door mounted VDO clock. Its sound system has been updated with a Blaupunkt multi-band receiver with discreet iPod connection and the electrical system has been converted to 12 volts for improved reliability. The front luggage compartment makes the best use of its space after accommodating the spare wheel and tyre and fuel tank by including a fitted valise with brass hardware. The optional sliding sunroof combines the best features of the rigid coupé body with enjoyable open-air driving on bright days and warm nights.
This 1957 Porsche 356A 1500 GS Carrera coupé is an automobile to be cherished, but also experienced, for its rarity and the sheer exhilaration of its 100hp four-cam engine.
Road & Track magazine tested a similar Carrera coupé in September 1956, achieving a top speed of 120 mph and concluded, “Without a doubt this was one of the most interesting cars we have ever tested…. If the dream of a million VW owners is someday to own a Porsche, then the dream of 10,000 Porsche owners must be someday to own a Carrera.
“And, we don’t blame them.”
This is the chance for subsequent generations of Porsche owners to experience one of the milestones in Porsche history.
The 8,000 rpm tachometer has green lines from 4,000 to 6,000 rpm. They are there to be used.