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Car Tales: Poetry In Motion, Porsche 356 Pre-A 1500s Reutter Cabriolet

‘What is it about Porsches that make them such unique examples of supercars? That make them like poetry in motion, almost a guarantee of high-end elan and status? Behind their many supreme qualities – gorgeous quasi-art deco lines, the utmost reliability of mechanical components, their aerodynamics and nimble handling – are the Porsche origins as a grassroots, garden-shed operation.
1952 Porsche 356 Pre-A 1500S Reutter Cabriolet for sale
‘In other words, their rootsy beginnings and thereby strong foundations as a company.

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‘The Porsche 356 sports car was first produced from 1948 to 1949 by Austrian company Porsche Konstruktionen GesmbH, and then by German company Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche GmbH. It was Porsche’s first production automobile. Earlier cars designed by the Austrian company included the Cisitalia Grand Prix race car, the Volkswagen Beetle, and Auto Union Grand Prix cars.
1952 Porsche 356 Pre-A 1500S Reutter Cabriolet side view
‘To differentiate between the various revisions of the model, Porsche 356s are customarily classified into several groups. The coupés and soft-top ‘cabriolets’ built through 1955 are readily identifiable by differences in windscreen design; the cars built between 1948 and 1952 have split windscreens; those from 1953 to 1955 are bent and center-creased.
‘At Beverly Hills Car Club we presently have a much sought-after 1952 Porsche 356 Pre-A 1500S Reuter Cabriolet in a gorgeous color combination of Strawberry Red with a sand beige interior.The vehicle comes equipped with a 4-speed manual transmission, 1953 Flat 4 Cylinder 1500 engine, dual carburetors, Telefunken radio, soft top, bent-windshield, steel wheels, and chrome hub caps. Also included is a copy of the Certificate of Authenticity and Kardex. This is an excellent opportunity to acquire such a rare and hard-to-find early low production air-cooled 356 Porsche that is mechanically sound.
‘The 356 was created by Ferdinand ‘Ferry’ Porsche, the son of Ferdinand Porsche, founder of the German company, who started the Austrian company with his sister Louise. Like its cousin, the Volkswagen Beetle (which Ferdinand Porsche Sr. had designed), the 356 is a four-cylinder, air-cooled, rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive car with unitized pan and body construction.
‘The chassis was a completely new design, as was the 356’s body, designed by Porsche employee Erwin Komenda. At the same time, certain mechanical components, including the engine case and some suspension components, were based on and initially sourced from Volkswagen.
‘Ferry Porsche described the thinking behind the development of the 356 in an interview with the editor of Panorama magazine in September 1972. ‘…I had always driven very speedy cars. I had an Alfa Romeo, also a BMW, and others. ….By the end of the war, I had a Volkswagen Cabriolet with a supercharged engine, and that was the basic idea. I saw that if you had enough power in a small car, it is nicer to drive than if you have a big car which is also overpowered. And it is more fun. On this basic idea, we started the first Porsche prototype. To make the car lighter, to have an engine with more horsepower…that was the first two-seater that we built.’
1952 Porsche 356 Pre-A 1500S Reutter Cabriolet engine
‘The first 356 was road certified in Austria on June 8, 1948, and was entered in a race in Innsbruck where it won its class. Porsche re-engineered and refined the car with a focus on performance. Little noticed at its inception, mostly by a small number of auto-racing enthusiasts, the first 356s sold primarily in Austria and Germany. It took Porsche two years, starting with the first prototype in 1948, to manufacture the first 50 automobiles.
‘The early 356s were aluminum-bodied and built by hand. Then Porsche struck a deal with the tiny Reutter company to build steel bodies for the 356.
‘And the class win at the 1951 Le Mans race moved up the reputation of the rear-engined, rear-wheel-driven car.
‘In March of 1952 Porsche worked in conjunction with Reuter to simplify production of the 356 and made several changes including a one-piece, bent windscreen and more significant bumpers which suited the American market.
‘1952 cars also featured ventilated disc wheels and optional trim rings that were common on export models. The car also got fully integrated front and rear aprons that extended below the bumpers. The bumpers themselves were enlarged with large guards and featured rubber strips. Small changes in the interior included a new 6000 rpm tach which replaced the clock, smaller gauge bezels, and relocated turn switch from the dashboard to the steering column.
‘The 1500 was Porsche’s newest engine which was quickly fitted with 40 PIBC Solex carburetors to produce 60 bhp at 5000 rpm in 1952. These retained the Hirth roller-bearing crankshafts which gave Porsche enough clearance to enlarge their engine to 1500cc.
‘Exactly as Ferry Porsche had dreamed would be the car he set out to manufacture. As he said, ‘I saw that if you had enough power in a small car, it is nicer to drive than if you have a big car which is also overpowered. And it is more fun.’
-Alex Manos, Owner
1952 Porsche 356 Pre-A 1500S Reutter Cabriolet buyer Alex Manos

2 replies on “Car Tales: Poetry In Motion, Porsche 356 Pre-A 1500s Reutter Cabriolet”

  • Frank Sefcik says:

    Good story,

    I have owned two cabrios–one B and one C, as well as two coupes also one B and one C. Unfortunately sold them too early. Two 912s were my favored drivers, and 1996 Carrera (the last air-cooled engine) was also fun to drive, but the early four cylinders were more challenging to drive.
    The reason I liked Porsche products is that I was born in same country as Ferdinand Porsche, and have followed the similarity of Czech Tatra cars rear-engined and air cooled as well as aerodynamics and other features…

    • Alex Manos says:

      Thank you Frank, congratulations on a wonderful past collection! We don’t see too many Tatra classics around here, but will certainly try to feature one when we do!

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