Cabriolet Barn Find: 1958 Porsche 356A

Once in a while a barn find will surface that is not only an amazing find, but has highly documented and interesting history. While this 1958 Porsche 356A Cabriolet was more or less forgotten about after being parked in this North Carolinian barn, its history wasn’t lost. It was just recently pulled from this barn, cleaned up, and is now for sale here on eBay.

The original owner ordered this car while stationed in Munich, Germany as an Air Force Officer. They even went to the factory to see it while it was being built. Shortly after it was finished, they had it sent home. On the trip to Texas, they stopped in Cherokee, North Carolina and had this photo of the car taken with a Cherokee Chieftain, which they sent to the Porsche publication Christophorus Magazine and it ended up in the factory calendar. We can’t help but wonder if people will run across the cars from our calendar in 50 years and get all excited…

After being in Texas until ’62, it changed hands twice and made its way to Florida and eventually to the barn in North Carolina. Time and humidity has taken its toll on this car, both inside and out. There is considerable rust in the floors, battery box, and much of the underside. Someone started a restoration, but didn’t get much further than taking things apart. Thankfully, the current owner has some extra interior parts that come with the car.

After a good cleaning, the exterior cleaned up well and the paint even shines. This car came with the rare hardtop option, which is still with the car and in excellent condition. While there is lots of rust on the underside, the body is surprisingly solid. The seller measured the thickness of the paint with a paint meter and based on their readings, it appears the body is bondo free.

The original engine is still in the car, but isn’t running. The seller was able to get it to rotate, but there is a stuck valve that is preventing it from turning over completely. The engine will likely need a complete rebuild, which could get expensive. It would be nice if this car were powered by one of the more powerful versions of the 1.6 liter boxer four, but this 70 hp unit should still be fun.

Bidding for this 356A has gone crazy, with the current bid at $48,000. This seems rather high for a car in this condition, but perhaps the hardtop adds considerable value to the car. What do you think? Does the hardtop add this kind of value to the car or is it simply overpriced? Either way, what would you like to see happen to it? Should it be left as original as possible, fully restored, or turned into an Outlaw 356? Thanks goes out to Dangelin for sending this our way.

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Comments

  1. gibbs connors

    very cool. bidding should go well beyond $48K. to rebuild that motor properly will be about $20K. folks that own these cars now talk of them being worth numbers so high i won’t even talk that kinda crazy talk. i’ve had some 356s and they just aren’t my thing. should be fun to watch though~

  2. dusterdave

    20k to re-build the moter? Stoned again huh?

    • gibbs connors

      @dusterdave, yeah, to do it right. it all adds up. main bearings are a grand. a buddy of mine owns a porsche shop in richmond and would have no reason to lie to me about that. it’s a valuable car. if money is an issue to anyone that wants to own one of these someday then it’s not a car for you. i’m having a bastard 40 horse VW motor rebuilt right now and it’s gonna cost me $5K going in a bus i paid $7500 for.

      sorry, i don’t partake of things that get one stoned.

  3. Robert J

    Looks like we just found a feature picture for the Barn Finds 2014 calendar. :) I just ordered your new 2013 calendar for the office. Looking forward to having that on the wall.

  4. Dolphin Member

    Where to start…..? Maybe at the bottom line: This is going to be a very expensive restoration.

    There are some good things going for it, like the fact that it’s a Cabriolet with an original hard top, and that it looks fairly complete, and has its Kardex. It may have an interesting history, but there would need to be some documentation. Unfortunately a recently written history isn’t enough, no matter how neatly it’s typed out. And the story about this car being a Christophorus calendar car….? Again, documentation needed, assuming that makes much of a difference to what the buyer will pay.

    That’s the good news. The bad news is all the work and $$ it will take to make this good again, because it needs everything. It’s very rusty, and someone has already tried to do a bad job at fixing some of the body’s needs, but fortunately gave up. And, yes, these simple-appearing engines are very expensive to rebuild if you want it done right, with good power and reliability at the end of it all. Porsche put out a book illustrating the special tools needed to work on these precision engines, and it’s an inch thick. One of these books just sold on eBay for over $500, which shows how important that information is to people who work on these engines. It just doesn’t make sense to try to rebuild it yourself (assuming you are not an expert, with a reputation among Porsche people), otherwise the value of the car will be lower than it should be and you may have trouble selling it for what it should be worth.

    As is so often the case, this would be best bought by someone with lots of experience with these cars, a well equipped shop, and the will and know-how to do it right…plus a stash of at least some of the parts this car needs to be put right.

  5. TVC15

    I surpose in 1958 if you asked for an Injun shot of the car that’s what you got

    • Horse Radish

      Come again ?

  6. gibbs connors

    i’m not saying he’ll get it but here is same year/same model, all done, no spare hardtop.
    http://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=1385174

    this is the talk i’ve heard, just sayin’. not my car, no affiliation.

  7. Chris Benziger

    What’s funny to me is I grew up across the Smokies from Cherokee NC and I’ve got a picture of me with that same Indian Chief! That was back in the time long before there was a casino there. It was just a small little tourist stop on the Chreokee Indian tribe reservation and that Chief was a main attraction!

  8. Chris H.

    I’d rather have a well made replica. http://www.beckspeedster.com/generalproductinfo/beckspeedster.html

    For around $30k, you can have a new car, built to your specs, and not worry about some soccer mom in her Escalade texting, drinking a latte who doesn’t see you and runs into your $275,000 Speedster.

    Sounds like more fun than driving something that is expensive (read; beyond the average hobbyists means) to restore and maintain.
    Yes, I am jealous, and a bit sad that my favorite car of all time is beyond my grasp. There’s always the lottery though…

  9. gibbs connors

    car sold for $80K. just sayin’

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