Pick of the Day: 1951 Porsche 356 Cabriolet, an exceptional early car

The highly desirable split-window example is described as a concours-level restoration

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The '51 Porsche 356 shows the original design intent

The Pick of the Day, a 1951 Porsche 356 split-window 1,300cc cabriolet, is from the early days of the German automaker just a few years after it had introduced a new kind of sports car to the world. 

The wonderfully original design by Ferdinand Porsche was based essentially on his simple people’s car, the Volkswagen Beetle, with its air-cooled engine mounted in the rear, but with a low, rounded aerodynamic body that was stylish and evocative.

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The 1951 356 was an improved version of the first sports cars that came out of Porsche’s makeshift factory in Gmund, Austria, though still sporting the 2-piece windshield that earns it the split-window nickname. Later models went with a one-piece “bent-window” treatment before a fully contoured windshield was initiated. But the split-window early cars hold a special significance and desirability among Porsche car collectors.

By ’51, the Porsche company had relocated back to Germany, and its little sports car had begun to find an enthusiastic fanbase, especially in the U.S.

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The Porsche advertised on ClassicCars.com by a dealer in Fallbrook, California, “is a stunning fully restored example that is finished in its original color combination of Pascha Red over a Beige leather interior,” according to the ad.

“The car shows as numbers-matching with the correct 1,300cc engine installed. 1951 saw a significant engine upgrade from the 1950 model, which included an all-new crankshaft and cylinder barrels. This, in combination with the increased displacement from 1.1 to 1.3 liters, increased the horsepower from 36 to 44.”

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This Porsche 356 did something of a world tour before going back to Germany and, eventually, to the US.


“This ’51 split-window was completed on September 8th, 1951, and was delivered to its first owner in Buenos Aries, Argentina, where it remained for over 30 years,” the dealer says. “The car was then purchased by a German buyer who shipped it to the United States, prior to exporting the car to Germany.

“Over the period between 1989-1990, the car underwent a restoration that included a full mechanical overhaul, new paint and all new brightwork. The car remained in this condition until it changed hands again in 2007. Several years after its most recent owner purchased it, this 356 underwent a complete ground-up restoration to a very high standard.”

The California dealer states that it has gone through the Porsche thoroughly. “It is now sorted and presents as a concours example throughout.”

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This looks to be a lovely 356 in very complimentary colors and with a known history.  The dealer asks that prospective buyers call for the price tag, and they should be ready for a lofty number in the six figures. The Hagerty price guide pegs the value for such a car in average condition at $244,000, going up to $693,000 for a perfectly restored concours example, as this one might well be.

RELATED:  Pick of the Day is a 2-for-1 deal

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

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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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