THE CONVERTIBLE BY DRAUZ
The successor to the widely acclaimed 356 Speedster, Porsche’s Convertible D premiered just in time for the late summer of 1958. The company’s typical coachbuilding partners at Reutter and Karmman were already drowning in orders, and so coachwork for this one-year only model was provided by Karosserie Drauz in neighboring Heilbronn, Germany—hence the “D” in the model designation.
The new Convertible D was noticeably less spartan than its predecessor, benefitting from a three-inch taller windshield, roll-up windows, a more robust convertible top, and a more upscale interior. New, larger teardrop-shaped taillights would replace the earlier “beehive”-style lamps, and the U.S. cars were fitted with front and rear bumper guards and overriders. Despite these creature comforts and cosmetic additions, the Convertible D still retained all the soul of the outgoing Speedster.
When considering the car’s incredible handling, quick steering, and excellent brakes, the Convertible D was a very exciting period offering, and undoubtedly more practical than the Speedster. Karosserie Drauz completed just 1,331 examples between August 1958 and September 1959. Notwithstanding works race cars, the model remains the smallest production run of any open-air Porsche from the period. All Convertible D chassis were produced for the 1959 model year only, making it highly prized by collectors and enthusiasts today.
CHASSIS NUMBER 86539
This particular Convertible D, chassis number 86539, is a rare U.S.-market 1600 Super example which benefits from an award-winning restoration. Chassis 86539 was delivered new to Southern California equipped with the optional 1.6-liter, 75-horsepower, Type 616/2 “Super” engine. The accompanying Kardex on file illustrates that it was also specified with reclining seats, a cigar lighter, ashtray, Ponto-Stabil mirror, electronic cabin clock, and Metzeler tires.
The car was delivered new to its first owner, John Ottaviano of Santa Cruz, California on 18 June 1959, finished in the color combination of Ivory over a red interior with black canvas top. The last warranty entry on the Kardex shows that Mr. Ottaviano had already covered nearly 6,000 miles in the car by 15 October 1959. Further documentation attributed to previous titles, as well as entries in the Convertible D and Porsche 356 registries, show that the car was owned by the same individual for thirty years until the consignor acquired this handsome Convertible D in 2008.
Upon receipt he immediately commissioned a complete and meticulous restoration from a noted Southern California marque specialist. No component escaped redress and a superb degree of originality was retained throughout. Invoices on file illustrate that as many of the car’s original components were retained and restored to “as new” function. The numbers-matching 1600 Super engine and four-speed manual gearbox have been retained. Both units were overhauled during the restoration: The engine was treated to a total rebuild while the gearbox was refreshed with a full suite of seals and bushings. All mechanical and ancillary systems were similarly addressed with the same exacting focus on originality. The consignor notes that even the front deck safety latch retains observable, with matching serial marks that evince this chassis’ originality.
The car has been masterfully refinished in the distinctive, desirable, and period-correct Sonderfarbe (special color) combination of Stone Grey over Oxblood leather. The cabin is finished with a proper tan carpeting kit sourced from the OEM supplier which is trimmed with matching Oxblood leather. The dark brown cloth top is a perfectly functional and charming compliment to the alluring color scheme; it folds beneath a matching cover, fully disappearing when not in use. All the pieces of optional equipment specified by the Kardex record have been retained, thus furthering the accuracy and desirability of this example’s present condition. A set of period-style lap belts is the car’s only noted aftermarket addition.
This eminently presentable restoration has proven to be an award-winning effort, with 86539 scoring a Third in Class award in August 2009 at the Concours On The Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. Another notable exhibition of this Convertible D took place in May 2012 at the Greystone Mansion Concours d’Elegance in Beverly Hills, California.
This attractive Convertible D now sits upon a fresh set of Vredestein Sprint Classic tires wrapped around a rare and desirable set of factory-correct Rudge knock-off wheels; a matching spare wheel is secured in the trunk. The consignor also notes that the brake system benefits from the fitment of new lines and rebuilt cylinders provided within the last two years. The consignor has regularly enjoyed the car for the past thirteen years of ownership, having covered approximately 3,000 miles since the restoration was completed.
Today, the Drauz-built convertible has become one of the most sought-after models in the world of early four-cylinder Porsches. The D is far more comfortable than a Speedster and magnitudes scarcer than the 356 B Roadster that appeared in 1960, resulting in it being considered by many to be the best of the three. This particular car—equipped with a numbers-matching example of the more powerful 1600 Super engine—presents a remarkable opportunity which is unlikely to be replicated by the market anytime soon.