Skip Hudson’s Porsche 356 Speedster

1,488 CC Air-Cooled Flat 4-Cylinder Engine
55 BHP at 4,400 RPM
Dual Solex Carburetors
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Drum Brakes
Independent Front Suspension with Trailing Arms and Torsion Bars
Independent Rear Swing-Axle Suspension with Torsion Bars

The Hero’s

This Speedster was bought new by two of the most influential names in the early days of American motorsports, when owner/driver Skip Hudson and his good friend Dan Gurney spied this very Speedster through the showroom glass of a Southern California VW dealership, Economotors Inc,

The Car

This Speedster is the twenty eighth pre-production series Speedster produced, with its completed body accepted by Porsche factory on the 21 Oct 1954 and released for shipment on 26 Oct 1954. It is the sixteenth white Speedster among one of the first batches out of the order of 200 cars, equipped with the 546 engine, sealed beam headlights and speedometer in miles. As one of these very rare breeds, it features all the “pre – series” characteristics that include leather straps as top fasteners, inside wall over rear wheel-housing is stepped on both sides, blunt-nosed hood handle, handmade aluminum side curtain receiver socket escutcheons, non reclining split level front seats, heater pull knob mounted under dash, engine lid without rack mount bolt holes, chassis numbered low bow top frame, one piece dash with larger gauge eyebrow, machined brass dash script, no defroster vents on dash, high position mounted rocker panel deco’s, oil temperature dip stick sensor, no front sway bars and two piece VW magnesium alloy crank case.

The rotisserie restoration commenced in 1990 over a period of 3 consecutive years, under the care of Kolouch, who extensively researched the period characteristics of the car. All body panels are original to the car, whilst repairs and replacements of the longitudinals, floor panels and battery box where necessary. Incredibly, both engine and transmission, fitted with competition BBAB gearing, are factory-original. Unfortunately, the one side of the two-piece engine case had been destroyed when a rod had let go at some stage. Luckily, Kolouch was able locate a new OEM case, where he used the one half to assemble the new engine that included correct new pistons and cylinders sourced at Mahle. The numbered half of the engine case is original. The correct finishes and decals are present throughout the engine compartment. The original brakes were also rebuilt. The exterior was finished in white that was accurately matched to the color found during disassembly, whilst the interior was re-trimmed using black leatherette upholstery with white piping seating, correct light grey German “square weave” carpeting, rubber floor mats, black Haartz canvas top, side curtains and tonneau cover, all of which was done according to original specification. Kolouch reported that the car had all of its original gauges and switches still intact, including the original color matched grey steering wheel, gear leaver and control knobs, which were carefully restored. Every component and hardware were carefully documented and restored, rebuilt or replaced with original period parts which were painstakingly sourced to maintain its originality. All 16″ date-stamped color coded wheels are original to the car, accompanied with the rare louvered “turbo” trim rings, period correct moon hub caps and BF Goodrich bias ply tires. It is unquestionably Kolouch, and his team of leading mark specialists, whose wealth of expertise, attention to detail and strive for perfection resulted in a concourse quality restoration.

In 1994, upon completion, Kolouch decided to evaluate the market potential and placed an advert in the prestigious DuPont Registry magazine, describing the car, its history and restoration in detail. The newly restored Porsche soon attracted the interest of Jerry Seinfeld who was on a pursuit for an exceptionally presented early Speedster.

In 1996, Hudson, having come to know of this Speedster’s´s revival from earlier communication with Kolouch during the cars restoration, contacted Seinfeld though his manager at the NBC studios. A touching moment occurred when Hudson showed up at Seinfeld’s collection in California to see his old race car. Several photos followed in a reunion of many of the famous Speedster and its driver some 50 years later. Hudson presented Seinfeld with a rare framed Bob Rector lithograph of himself racing this Speedster, which he proudly autographed. The Speedster remained a centerpiece of Seinfeld’s collection until 1997 when it was sold at the Barrett –Jackson auction in Scottsdale Arizona to the founder and owner of the Yankee Candle Company, Mike Kittredge. Hudson accompanied Gabilgio and this Speedster to the auction, and was present when his old Speedster rolled proudly onto the podium, to an enthusiastic applause. For its time, it sold to a record price, for a Porsche 356 Speedster at auction. In the spring of 1998, to the surprise of many, Hudson sadly passed away losing his long time battle to cancer.

Until 1999, this Speedster was displayed among some of the most collectable cars in the world, at Mike Kittredge’s Yankee Candle Car Museum, where according to John Schieffelinn, the museums manager, the Seinfeld Speedster always attracted an enthusiastic crowd. This Speedster would change hands yet again when vintage racer Anthony Angotti acquired it.

The Speedster has participated in numerous important concourse events and featured in various historical articles such as the November 2007 issue of Excellence magazine. Perhaps the crowning achievement in this car’s remarkable history is when it was honored with a special invitation by Ken Gross, a member of the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Committee, to participate in the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours d Elegance. There it was proudly displayed in Hudson’s black-striped 1956 racing livery, together with several other vintage race cars as a featured part of Class R – “Cars That Raced in the Forest”. It also completed the 60 mile Tour D`Elegance. Indeed, this vintage racer had come full circle.

This Speedster is truly an outstanding genuine example possessing a mystical presence with an inviting light patina. Today it presents as one would expect of a car that has benefited from limited use and consistent maintenance with no cost spared, having covered only a mere 13.800 miles since completion. Approx 3000 of those miles were covered with another engine in the place of the one original to the car, which was stored. A file documenting its fascinating history accompanies it, including the lithograph signed by Hudson, 2006 Pebble Beach Concourse ribbon, Porsche Certificate of Authenticity, Kardex, Karosserie Reutter Certificate, original owner’s manuals, correct wooden fuel tank dip stick, extremely rare original tool kit and jack. This particular Porsche has a provenance all of its own and is a thoroughbred in every sense of the word having seen action with some of the most stellar veteran racers of the day. Only a very few cars can claim such pedigree and elegance with such an astounding competition history traced back to its glory days.

While the 356 itself has a special place in automotive history, the 1954 year 356 Speedster has become one of the most collectable Porsches, and the very few surviving examples in existence have become permanent part of private collections. They are eligible for countless historical rallies, such as Mille Milgia, as well as the most prestigious concours events. The 1954 Speedster successfully introduced Porsche onto the world stage and represents the purest expression of one of the all time great automotive designs.

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