Having commenced manufacture with a short run of aluminum-bodied cars built at Gmünd, Porsche began volume production of the steel-bodied 356 Coupe at its old base in Stuttgart, at first in premises shared with coachbuilders Reutter and then (from 1955) in its original factory at Zuffenhausen.
The man responsible for introducing the spartan and sporty Speedster to the USA, New York-based importer Max Hoffman, had begun his series of entry level Porsches with the 1500 America, a ‚de-trimmed‘ 356 powered by the Normal engine. For 1955, the 1500 America was superseded by the better equipped, though still ‚Normal‘ powered, Continental. According to Road & Track: „The Normal produced more torque than the Super below 3,000rpm, and in any given gear, from any given speed, could out-accelerate the more powerful car. In deference to its graciousness, German customers called the 1500 Normal „die Dame – the Lady.“ The ‚Continental‘ name, however, was dropped after little more than a year after objections from Ford. Today, the refined Continentals are among the rarest and most sought after of early 356s.
Purchased new on 4-7-1956 by a Canadian GI overseas or at least shipped to Canada originally, as noted on the Continental’s Kardex from Porsche records. The car made its way to Houston and was owned by a Submarine Commander who broke down in Benson, Arizona while on his way from Houston to Los Angeles.
The car was towed to nearby „Precision Motors“ in Tucson, Arizona. The parts needed to fix the Porsche were not on hand, so the owner traded in the car for an E-Type Jaguar to complete his journey. Jack Rowe, the owner of Precision Motors sold the car shortly after to Carl Nelson, the owner of „Silver Star Motors,“ a Mercedes Benz repair shop also located in Tucson. He owned the 356 until his passing in 1997. A local Porsche restorer / technician Chuck Croteau of Redline Service had always known the car and acquired it after Carl’s passing. Chuck commissioned a complete restoration of the vehicle in 1998 and completed the work around 2000. He then cared for the Porsche until a local collector acquired it in 2005, before trading hands to its most recent previous owner.
Chuck noted that when he received the car it was still wearing its original paint, and claimed that all the body panels and floors were never replaced and are original to the car. During the restoration, he removed its undercoating and opted not to replace it because he did not want to cover up the unmolested factory floors. The car was stripped to bare metal and repainted in its original color of „Turkish Red“ with refreshed brightwork. Excellent panel alignment as can be expected from a car that retains its hand-crafted panels, stamped with a „35“, the last two numbers of its chassis number, standard practice by the coachbuilder Reutter at the time.
The interior was restored in its original color code „B“, „Acella Bast“ leatherette. The wool carpets are finished in correct patterns, along with the wool headliner. The fold up rear seat has leather luggage straps fitted. The instruments were additionally restored, while the body’s glass wears correct factory markings.
The car retains its original matching-numbers 1500cc engine, expertly rebuilt with correct ignition, carburetors, and air cleaners intact, with Abarth style exhaust. The synchronized 4-speed transmission shifts as intended. Wheels are correct 16″ Pre-A examples with AVON tires.
Superbly honest and well-presented, 54035 is an anomaly for a Porsche 356 of the era to have survived today with many of its original components and represents one of the finest examples of a 1955 Continental available for worldwide purchase and delivery.