The 356B was offered with three pushrod engine options: the 60 horsepower 1600 normal, the 1600 Super with 75 horsepower, and most notably the newly released Super 90 boasting 90 horsepower at 5,500rpm and 89 lb-ft of torque at 4,300-rpm. The Super 90 performance figures were particularly impressive for its time, outperforming the 1600 Normal by two seconds and a full second faster than the 1600 Super in the sprint from 0-62 mph and claiming the fastest top speed of the bunch at 117miles per hour.
The first T5 356B models began to emerge from the assembly line in Zuffenhausen in late August of 1959. The first two models produced were 1600 Normal models. The third model completed was special- it was the first Super 90 ever produced. Immediately after its completion, chassis number 108921 was issued to an engineer named Klink. After a journey to Berlin, it returned to the repairs department for updates and modifications on September 19th, 1959 with 2,919 kilometers, and again nearly a month later on October 14th with 5,697 kilometers. It was serviced twice more on November 10th at 8,861 kilometers and December 12 at 13,397 kilometers before all work was was signed off on New Years’ Eve 1959. Soon after that, it received its final modification- the replacement of metric gauges for U.S. instruments. It made its way to Southern California’s foremost Porsche dealerships, Vasek Pollak, as a distributor demonstrator model. It was an instant hit with enthusiasts, and the Super 90 became a sought after and difficult to acquire commodity.
Chassis 108921’s first private owner, Emil Pardee, had been in Stuttgart with a friend and spent the day at the factory test driving a Super 90 on the Autobahn. He attempted to buy one, but to no avail as all the cars at the time had already been allocated. Luckily, Pardee was a successful SCCA racer and a partner in a Palo Alto, CA Volkswagen/Porsche dealership, and was offered a Super90 factory car that had been damaged. At the time, it was being repaired, but Pardee accepted and once the repairs had been completed it was shipped to San Francisco. “As I remember the car it was off white (ivory) with a sunroof,” he wrote, “had U.S. instruments, and long gears (Nurburg Ring-Rations).” He successfully campaigned the Super90 in nine competitions throughout his ownership in SCCA regional events in northern California in the class C production category. Pardee eventually sold the coupe to someone he knew in Reno, and the Super 90 circulated in the used car market for decades before Road Scholars was notified of the car. Upon inspecting the car, what appeared to be a good driver actually showed signs of damage in the front trunk – bent inner fenders, kinked access panels, and one headlight was approximately an inch higher than the other. Furthermore, the front axle had been pushed back two inches on the left side and up more than an inch.
An excellent example of a T5 was scanned and a 3D CAD drawing was made to commission into new bucks. Chassis 108921 was then stripped to bare metal, and in the process, it was found that the car had originally been painted Heron Grey. It was set on a jig and many hours were spent cutting and straightening the chassis. Once the chassis was repaired properly, a new nose and fenders were formed over the bucks. The front decklid was de-kinked and re-skinned, and the doors were fabricated from scratch. The rear section was removed, rust damage repaired, and straightened before being refitted to the bodywork. After thousands of hours in metalwork alone, the first Super 90 ever produced was finally straight and true for the first time in over 60 years.
After the completed restoration, chassis 108921 was awarded second place in its class at the 2011 Carmel-By-The-Sea Concours on the Avenue and a first in class at the 2016 Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance.
Chassis 108921 is truly a unique example and the only of its kind. Its extensive restoration preserves a milestone in the Porsche 356’s lineage and its incredible story, and its existence today helps to tell the story of the role racing played in the success of Porsche in the United States.