Early droptop: 1952 Porsche 356 Pre-A Cabriolet split-window

The Pick of the Day is a rare and desirable model from the beginnings of the German brand

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The Porsche 356 Pre-A is equipped with US-spec interim bumpers

Early Porsche 356 sports cars are highly sought after, known as Pre-A models as they predated the German brand’s updated versions. Roundly aerodynamic, their appealing style and details authentically frame the original intent of these unique little cars that started off the Porsche lineup of great sports and racing machines. 

The Pick of the Day is a 1952 Porsche 356 Cabriolet Pre-A sports car, called a split-window because the windshield is two separate pieces of flat glass, and described by the Costa Mesa, California, dealer advertising the car on ClassicCars.com as a highly original example with desirable factory features.  The floor pans are original, the seller adds, having never been rusted.

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“This 356 has many of its original period specifications down to the last detail,” says the seller, a Porsche restoration expert. “Most of the interior is original with the exception of the front seats and the soft top that was upholstered 30 plus years ago.

“Dominating the dashboard is the original six-volt Telefunken ID51 tube radio with AM and SW, programmable by perfect ivory pre-selective pushbuttons. It also features the early steering wheel, which is unadorned by the Porsche emblem that featured on the later cars.”

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The seller calls this car “very rare,” with fewer than 10 split-window cabriolets known to exist.  The 356 has its matching-numbers 1,500cc boxer engine, and was a US import model with so-called interim bumpers.  The car was completed April 22, 1952, and delivered to the famed Hoffman Motors dealership in New York.  The car’s ownership and repair history are known since the mid-1970s.

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 “The current owner purchased this 356 in Redwood City, California in 2008 as a keeper and loved the 356 just the way you see it today,” the ad says. “A lot of time and money was spent having the 356 sorted including rebuilding the engine, going through the braking system, fixing everything to work properly and having the original Veigel gauges restored by North Hollywood Speedometer.

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“Mechanically, this 356 runs phenomenal with plenty of horsepower, a smooth-shifting transmission with synchromesh able to upshift up and down without any effort, and the brakes stop the car as they should.”

Just 4,481 miles are on its odometer, presumably since its most-recent refurbishing.  The photos with the ad show an attractively clean and straight body and a nice interior.  The only clinker spotted in the photos is the convertible top, which looks rumpled and stained, and badly needing replacement. Not that you’d want to drive this sports car with the top up.

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The seller does not list an asking price for this rare 356, but any prospective buyer should know that these things don’t come cheap.  According to the Hagerty price guide, the average price for a 1952 356 Pre-A cabriolet is $205,000.  One in excellent condition would set you back $302,000, while one restored to concours condition could go as high as $455,000. 

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To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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