The Pick of the Day is a performance model with a special race-bred engine
The Pick of the Day is a fabled Holy Grail for most fans of air-cooled German sports cars: a 1957 Porsche 356 Carrera 1500 GS/GT coupe, and this one is gorgeously presented and powered by the iconic 4-cam boxer engine.
The Carrera engine with dual overhead cams on either bank of the 1.5-liter opposed-4 engine is the masterful piece of engineering that powered the Porsche 550 Spyder race cars, earning the small roadsters a reputation as formidable giant killers on the track.
The high-revving engine proved to be superbly flexible, allowing it to be placed in road cars as well as racers, and small batches of 356 Carrera coupes and Speedsters were produced. Horsepower was rated at 115, which may not sound impressive but was enough to make small Porsches highly competitive.
The 4-cam was an alternative to the 356’s standard single-cam boxer engine with overhead valves actuated by pushrods. Only a limited number of cars were produced with the Carrera performance engine.
This 1957 356 Carrera is one of 141 built, according to the San Diego, California, dealer advertising the car on ClassicCars.com, with a comprehensive history of the car included with the ad, as well as a large gallery of photos. Just 13,434 miles have been added since a complete restoration, including an expert engine rebuild, according to the ad.
Actually, not much is known about the Carrera for the decade after warranty work was completed in Germany in 1958, although it is assumed, the seller says, that the car was kept busy competing in hill climbs and ice races.
“This Porsche eventually resurfaced sometime late in 1968 when it was being driven across the States by a German or possibly Scandinavian owner,” the seller says in the ad.
“During his journey, he had a catastrophic engine failure in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the car was traded in shortly thereafter at East Side Motors on Admiral Avenue in Tulsa. The car was traded for a used Ford Falcon and he continued on his way to California.”
The Carrera eventually landed in the hands of a Tulsa Porsche collector and racer, Howard de Haven, who purchased the Carrera with the damaged engine while at the same time acquiring another 4-cam engine from a wrecked Carrera Speedster.
The engine was professionally rebuilt, using the Speedster engine case and some of the internal parts from both engines to restore the bottom end, while the complex heads and valve gear were rebuilt separately by a 4-cam specialist, the seller says. Care and maintenance of these high-strung engines require specialized expertise, much unlike the simple pushrod engines that are so easy to care for.
After a string of U.S. owners, the Carrera was sold in Japan, where it remained for 33 years, kept in museums and by corporate owners. During this time, the car was upgraded, the seller says, with “an incredible assortment” of original Porsche factory GT components. An 80-liter fuel tank also was added as well as a factory roll bar, and a complete set of lightweight Perspex windows were installed.
The Porsche looks to be in great condition, painted in a non-original silver with Carrera-specific black fender highlights. The interior looks fresh, although there are no photos in the ad showing the engine compartment.
Rare and highly desirable, the 356 Carrera does not have an asking price listed with the ad, although it’s certain to be serious money. According to the Hagerty value guide, the average price for a 1957 356 GS/GT coupe is currently $620,000, rising to nearly a million dollars for one in concours condition, which this one well could be.
The coupe’s value could get dinged for the non-original engine and modifications, although if this were a Carrera Speedster rather than a Carrera coupe, you could just about double those values.
Compare that to a pushrod-engine-powered 1957 Super coupe, which just tops $100,000 for an average car and $200,000 for a perfect example, according to the Hagerty guide.
To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.