Steve Heinrich’s Speedster Books

TITLE         Porsche Speedster Celebration of an Icon

AUTHOR     Heinrichs


ISBN 10     0974646814

ISBN 13     No ISBN 13


Speedster 50th Anniversary:  Celebration of an Icon, by Steve Heinrichs  -- even those of you who have the Speedster Typ 540 book will not be prepared, for the book chronicles last year’s Speedster celebration at the Monterey peninsula.  First, let’s face it:  owning a Porsche is an indulgence, owning a Speedster is a bigger indulgence, owning the first four Speedsters is a bigger indulgence, owning the first four Speedsters and the first Carrera Speedster is an even bigger indulgence – I could go on like this for several more iterations, but the event in California and the Speedster Typ 540 book were indulgences on a spectacular scale.  So you shouldn’t be surprised to find Speedster 50th Anniversary:  Celebration of an Icon is a very indulgent book.  However, just as Steve carried off the Speedster celebration, he has produced a magnificent book; given of course, that you want 300 pages composed almost entirely of Speedster pictures – it’s large (a mini coffee table sized book – same size as the Speedster Typ 540 book, arrayed horizontally rather than vertically), lushly colored, and has exquisitely sharp photographs.  You get to see a lot of Steve and his cars.  You also learn that our esteemed editor must have the metabolism of a hummingbird.  Gordon was always eating or had a drink in hand.  Somewhere east of indulgence and just west of compulsion, Steve attempted, with remarkable success, to document the serial numbers of the cars photographed in the book.  I am not sure how anyone can finish the book in fewer that a couple of months:  read caption, look at picture, check serial number in database while cross-checking color with Marco’s serial number list in Speedster Typ 540. This takes time and I am still not completely done.  I am disappointed that there is not an appendix listing the cars present, and ideally registrants, by serial number.  The book can be a fabulous resource for seeing what Speedster paint colors really look like.  The color reproduction shows amazing fidelity – at least to the cars I know.  The photo of Heath Hurlbert’s America roadster #12362 is radium green.  Steve’s Speedster #80005 is terra cotta red.  And Vic Rivera’s stone gray Convertible D is the same in photo as in real life – though the incorrect/extraordinarily controversial “Speedster D” emblems have disappeared through the magic of digital processing.  This of course is not a guarantee that any car is the correct color, but it’s a step in the right direction that the photo correctly represents the current color.  Unlike Speedster Typ 540, Speedster 50th Anniversary is not about facts and scholarship, it’s precisely a celebration of the of the largest gathering of Speedsters there has ever been and probably ever will be.  If you attended you will want a copy for remembrance and if you didn’t, you will need a copy to see what you missed.

A sumptuous book from the 2005 event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Speedster.  Huge collection of Speedster photographs, including the first 6 prototypes now at the Porsche museum.  Spectacular high quality production.

Available as both the regular edition and as a boxed, numbered edition with a CD of the event.

Also consider companion book
Speedster Typ 540.
TITLE         Porsche Speedster Typ 540



ISBN 10     0974646806

ISBN 13     no ISBN 13

Regular edition


Porsche Speedster - Quintessential Sports Car is out -- or at least it is to be introduced at the 50th Anniversary Event!!  And it is fantastic!  How could one expect less from the list of contributors, including Marco Marillelo, Jim Perrin, Lee Raskin, Chuck Stoddard, Don Zing, and Tim Goodrich as technical advisor?  And they generously thank experts who have helped them.  Still one can't help be a little nervous about a book brought about for an event.  It's a coffee table sized (25 * 30 cm), which 255 pages.

We start with an introduction by Owen Edwards.  Nicely written, but I don't think I really need yet another exposition on how it was in the 50s.  The Speedster does not need to be examined in the context of its time, it just is.  And if it did, Michael Thiriar did an excellent job in his lamentably  out of print, Porsche Speedster – Evolution of Porsche’s Light Weight Sports Car.  I dote on Edward’s use of obscure words, but not his need to subsequently define them.

In the lead chapter, Chuck provides his personal insight into Max Hoffman's place in the development of Porsche.  Chuck Stoddard was one of the first Porsche owners to not only collect obscure models, but also research their histories, origins and ultimately their rasion d'etre.  Previously unpublished photographs from both the Ludvigsen and Chuck's own libraries, including a prototype for a cabriolet with its hood hidden under a metal tonneau, are printed.  Phil Carney's documentation of the America Roadster might have been more appropriately included in the book, had it not been recently published in both the Registry and Excellence magazines.  Chuck has sketched the origins and significance of the America Roadster as well as devoting several pages to the legal documentation of the financial collapse of their body builder Heuer.  It's astounding that the actual work to place an entire cabriolet (Aluminum Roadster would not have been much more) body on the Reutter provided bau (chassis) was 500 hours, which was costed as 600 hours due to inefficiencies caused by variations in Porsche's demand.  I think my cabriolet went over that the first month and it's still under restoration over a year later.

Don Zing provides the historical backbone of speedster history in two comprehensive chapters. The prototype used chassis #12223.  Don claims it as a left over 1952 cabriolet chassis.  Given that 1952 Reutter coupe chasses ended with #12084, continuing to #50001, Reutter cabriolet chasses ended with #10350, continuing to #15001, and even Heuer chasses ended #10469, continuing with #12301, it is not a production chassis Porsche had lying around the factory.  It still best fits as one of the replacement chassis in the 1953-1961 series (#12201-#12376), just after the America Roadster period.  In Don's chapters, as well as the rest of the book, a straightforward history is overlaid with fascinating historical details.  Recently, on 356TALK, there was a thread concerning the origin of the raised area above the tail pipe -- perhaps started by me.  According to Don's research this started with the introduction of round tail pipes in 1954.  I am comforted to know my '53/'52 not only doesn't have the raised are, but it shouldn't.  Photographs and drawings are uniformly excellent and many are new.  Some are even obscure.  Who knew that Porsche gave away a Speedster in conjunction with the World Plowing Championship (I didn't even know there was a WPC - but then not having a television, I don't get ESPN or Speedvision)?  Reprinted is a poster advertising the Speedster - Porsche-Diesel Tractor promotion.  The very first Speedsters had heater slides -- some overheated.  Read the book to find out what Herbert Linge discovered.

Marco Marinello covers racing with chapters on Carrera Speedsters and Speedsters in Racing.  Some of you may remember Denis Jenkinson's Porsche 356 book in which he misidentified a wrecked Porsche as a Spyder.  In my book review, I further muddied the waters.  Since then it had become clear that it was the Claude Storez Zagato Speedster.  I knew the car had been compressively wrecked hours after leaving the Porsche factory.  Marco's information is that the car was repaired and subsequently raced and fatally wrecked with Storez at the wheel.  And "for the number freaks," Marco provides a listing of all Carrera Speedsters by chassis and engine number.  And not only that, he lists Carrera chassis, provided without and engines and then the two Convertible D Carreras!  Do you suppose the explanation for the Drauz ad of the rear of a Convertible D with a twin grill deck lid, is that it was a Convertible D Carrera GS?  Speedsters in Racing is not a who won what chapter; rather a selection of facts which Marco finds interesting and I find fascinating.

Jim Perrin, assisted with superb photography by Ted Zombeck, wrote the chapter on printed material.  Listed perhaps more comprehensively, and certainly in beautiful color are all of the brochures pertinent to the Speedster and the only one for Convertible D.  Additionally, Jim explains the color sample cars, which list the available interior and carpet colors for each or the initially three, later eleven paint colors.  Limited by 40 years, rather than reproduction quality, are paint, upholstery and carpets color photographs.  Finally, Jim describes precisely what manuals would have come with any given year Speedster.  Illustrated is the packet for #84115 (coincidentally, or not an ex Jerry Seinfeld '58 Speedster) which consisted of a heavy red paper folder, an orange 356A driver's manual, printed in September 1957, service, Reutter body-care and battery information booklets.  Notice, no Speedster particular manual -- only for 1956 was there a Speedster manual.

I must admit that I have no particular interest in Porsches in movies.  But if the discussions on 356TALK are an indication, this is of intense interest for a sizable subculture of 356 owners.  Hence Lee Raskin's chapter on Celebrities - Pose with Porsche should be of much more interest than I might have supposed.  Amazingly enough, Lee has documented the real serial number (and it is neither of the cars once advertised in the Registry or recently on eBay) of James Dean's Speedster.  Its whereabouts are unknown.

The final chapter is Steve Heinricks' Reflections on Some Unanswered Questions.  Included are How many bodies did Heuer build, origin of the name America Roadster, origin of the Speedster name, relationship of the Sauter roadster, why it took two years to bring out the Speedster, did a Speedster Carrera race in the Mile Miglia, and Chassis which might or might not exist.  Only when you are the senior author and driving force behind a book can self-indulgencies like this be made.  I found each of the short discussions fascinating, and am pleased Steve decided to throw some light on some arcane subjects.

Then the appendices! 

Appendix I - the sixteen Sauter Roadsters.

Appendix 2 - Production data for the Speedster and Convertible D with engine designations, Reutter (but not Porsche paint) color codes

AND ALL SPEEDSTER AND CONVERTIBLE D CHASSIS SERIAL NUMBERS, DELIVERED MOTOR TYPES & PAINT CODES.  But why go to the trouble of providing motor types when serial number could have been just as easily?  Seems to me a lot of space and trouble for a small gain or what Brett Johnson has already provided.  Porsche paint codes are listed starting in 1957, but you will need to go to Brett's book to see to what color they translate.

In the penultimate appendix engine and paint totals by model are give.  Only one terra-cotta (one of the very first cars) and one Aluminum silver Speedster were made.

Finally, a reprint of an internal 1954 Porsche document listing all of the trim colors for any given car color.

The appendices are easy to use; however, finding information in the body of the book is difficult – after reading the book, I tried to go back to specific areas, only to find there are neither chapter headings nor an index.  Supposing one wished to find specific information on Max Hoffman – three different authors had comments.  This is a very unfortunate omission in a book filled with arcane information.

The photographs, their reproduction, paper are all superb.  The history is more of a roman then pure exposition.  All of the authors are highly readable.  Even my quibbles about grammar are minimal.  The book passes the EATS SHOOTS LEAVES test.  Those wanting detailed factual histories should go to Ludvigsen's Excellence.  But if you want to read what the real experts find fascinating get yourself a copy of Porsche Speedster - Quintessential Sports Car.