Four-Cam Road Car: 1957 Porsche 356 GS Carrera

Despite Porsche 356s seemingly piling up on eBay every week, there are some truly special models that get the attention – and money – they deserve. The 1957 356 GS Carerra, otherwise known by its four-cam motor, was one of the first significant upgrades Porsche offered customers looking to get a taste of what the company built expressly for track usage. This particular car is said to have been hiding in a Georgia barn after failing an inspection in the 1970s. It is now up for auction and expected to fetch somewhere in the neighborhood of $600,000 – $700,000. Find it here on the Gooding & Company website or see it in person at Amelia Island this weekend.

When you see a priceless classic like this with snow tires mounted on the rear wheels, it reinforces how often these cars were relegated to daily driver status despite being the equivalent of buying a new GT3 today. The four-cam engine represented an excruciatingly complex build process befitting of cars that would run flat-out at LeMans. It first found a home in the exotic 550 Spyders, and later the Carrera GT and GS models like this one here. Equipped with roller-bearing crankshafts and two overhead cams per cylinder bank, the engines typically required 120 man-hours to assemble with engine timing taking on average eight to fifteen hours to complete. Thankfully, this 356 retains its original, numbers-matching engine, transmission and all body panels.

Of course, if the original engine were missing, you could always buy a replacement to the tune of €120,000, or about $150,000 U.S. – for the engine. That would be a brand-new, off-the-shelf unit, but it should give you some perspective on what rebuild costs will entail. The black leather interior is correct for the car and still in surprisingly decent condition. The dashboard panel and gauge cluster are pockmarked with surface rust, and corrosion is obviously an issue on numerous body panels. No word on what the chassis or floors look like, but for a car like this, that is of little concern – especially knowing the original powerplant is still with the vehicle. The seller notes that documentation is extensive and that this car was originally sold by the legendary Max Hoffman in New York.

That beautiful engine, responsible for so many of Porsche’s feats on historic race tracks all over the world, is a jewel. Once this 356 is completely restored – which it absolutely will be – I hope to hear it sing once more. This is the motor that made Porsche the “giant killer” in motorsports competition, a title it can still lay claim to today. Sure, it’s expensive – but I can justify the price tag for significant cars like this Carrera. Check out this video of the Type 547 motor starting up for the first time, and make sure your headphones are plugged in and turned up!

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Comments

  1. SAM61

    Cool car with a pedigree. I like the snow tires…careening through snow covered Catskills roads.

  2. Alan (Michigan) Member

    There was a Porsche dealer who used to autocross one of these in the late 60’s in the Dayton, Ohio area. The car was extraordinarily fast, and the pilot was certainly up to the task of handling the wheel. I can still see it squirting between corners, squat in the rear, with that beautiful sound emanating from a custom exhaust.
    One heck of a lot of money, but where are you going to find another one?

  3. flmikey

    I wonder who will win the bidding war…Jay Leno or Jerry Seinfeld…

  4. Dirk

    I once owned a similar 356 Carrera back in the ’70s but mine was even earlier with the “bent” windshield. Unfortunately, although it retained its Carrera badging, it had been fitted with a normal engine and the chap from whom I bought it would not sell me the original four cam engine for any amount of money but insisted on using it for a coffee table in his living room.

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Dirk, it is your duty to find him a coffee table made out of pure elephant tusk or whale bone or something exotic and force him to give it to you in exchange

      • On and On On and On Member

        Great video of the Carrera start up after 45 years. I use the same carb air volume tool to balance carbs on multi carb motorcycle engines. Invaluable tool for like $25. Works great on Corvairs too.

      • Dirk

        Well that was a very long time ago Jeff but I sometimes wonder whether the car was ever reunited with its proper engine. I sure hope so.

  5. Michael

    1st photo in the barn is similar to the BF logo!

  6. Beatnik Bedouin

    Very cool car. The engines in these were quite complex in their day and it took many hours of very careful assembly to get it right.

    Seems that Carrera pricing has moved into the stratosphere since I last had anything to do with 356s.

  7. Pebblebeachjudge

    Years ago I saw a picture of a blocked up garage in Portugal , sealed up, full of classics. I thought it was a hoax when I was told a 1500GS Carrera with racing history was in the stew of 100 cars. Luckily to have it now. These are so undervalued for what they are. This project will redefine the market , add 250,000 to restore it. I always thought they were 1.000.000 $ cars, done.

  8. Ron Tyrrell

    Here is a long lost tip on two RSK s that belonged to an average Joe from Butte Montana. He had two RSK 550 he hill climbed with. There once was a or may be still is a hill climb in Billings call Black Rock and he was a local competetor in this event. There was als a hill climb in the Ten Sleep canyon of which I still have a program for. I wonder where the are now.

  9. Jim

    I just don’t see the value in these upside down bathtubs. Do they have any real significant race history or do the values of these just keep rising because OCD Porsche fanatics need to add to their collection ?

    • moosie Craig M. Bryda

      You are obviously not a fan of Early Porsches. But that’s o k you are not alone.

  10. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    Roughly what ? $500k sitting on the engine & it’s dis-assembled ? Such a deal.

  11. Pebblebeachjudge

    An early Carrera is a must in any early Porsche collection. They were all bought for racing, and they were raced. A very complicated motor, even in the 1960s a nightmare to service, run, maintain, fun to drive. Most lost their motors because of the expense . It’s the 300sl of the 1956 Porsche lineup.

  12. KKW

    Basically a souped up Volkswagen. Prices have gone beyond ridiculous.

    • Jim

      I would have to agree.

  13. Jack Quantrill

    In the 60’s I bought a basket case 1500GS four cam engine in Hawaii for $250.00. Later on, the owner of the car that went with the engine, sold it to me for $1100.00. It even had Rudge knock-off hub chrome wheels! Had a VW engine in it. Didn’t know what I had and sold the car and 4 cam engine for $2500.00. If I only knew!

  14. Ron Anthony

    Jack,
    Don’t feel bad. Back in the 70’s some of these cars, especially the ones campaigned on the track were just not competitive anymore and not worth much. I know because I had a 63 Carrera 2 as a daily driver with a rebuilt 4 cam in it and a four digit race car with one as well By the way the 63 while it revved nicely it was heavy and only produced about 130 hp while the racer was a whole mother story.

  15. Bob Tarpenning

    When I was in the Air Force stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany in 1957. I dropped by the MG dealership and they had a Carrera Speedster that Baron Von In der Elst had used to set some speed record with. They let me drive it but the streets were so hilly that I never got out of 2nd gear. It was a beast. I could have bought it for $ 2500.00 and it was in perfect condition. I was driving an Austin Healey then but brought a Porsche speedster home.
    Bob T

  16. Todd

    Isn’t this the motor that requires 16 hours just to adjust the valves?

  17. Pete

    I have always liked Porches especially the older ones such as these. Never have owned one though. By the time I could, I started ooking around to see what I could find in Germany. A captain in my unit bought a brand new 911 Cabriolet. He gets it to Post from the dealer. The next day he was driving out to the flight line and smoke starts to billow out from under the hood. His fwd half of the wiring harness shorted out and caught on fire not a hundred miles on the car. We were all devestated, the dealer fixed it. But you know that just killed the appeal of the car for me getting one.

    Yesterday as I was out and about I saw a 2010ish Deep dark Blue Carrera driving around. I caught up to him at a light and then saw a huge dent in the passenger door and was all like NOOOOOOOOOO. It was a beautiful car it just sat so perfectly on it’s wide tires. It looked ready to race at just a nod from another driver. These cars will always hold a place in automotive history dream catagory for most regular folks.

  18. TriPowerVette

    The MAX OUTPUT of these engines in street trim was 150H.P. THE MAX,,, Let that sink in.

    So, before everyone whips out their checkbooks and prepares to swipe their MasterCards to the tune of way more than a half a megabuck, just remember… at its heart, it is still nothing more than a full race Volkswagen. A fragile one at that.

    To put that into perspective:
    You could have an assorted 5+ Jaguar XK-E’s of the period
    You could have an array of 440+6 and Hemi-powered street terrors
    You could have a perfect Boss 429 Mustang AND a couple or three Shelbys
    You could have 2 Ferrari F12’s or 4 599 GTB’s
    You could have a 1965 Lola T-70 as campaigned, plus nearly $300,000 in change

    Other than showing all your friends that you have more dollars than sense, what is that ol’ garage queen gonna be good for? Well, if you keep the RPMs below 6500 (probably won’t do any good, since much lower and you’re lugging the peaky little grenade), and take it out on a nice spring day, you can stick your hand out the window and make it fly like an airplane, while going BBbbbbbrrrrr- Nnnnnnnnn- BBBbbbrrrrrrrrr.

    There’s a sucker born every minute – P.T. Barnum

    • KKW

      In this case, it would have to be a very ‘rich’ sucker.

      • TriPowerVette

        Last I checked, they are not in short supply. Thumbs up.

    • Pebblebeachjudge

      I am so glad to be one of those suckers with 150 hp of magic , full on.

      • TriPowerVette

        Case in point.

      • BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

        I’d be happy to mount the engine on a stand, put it in a back bedroom & pray to it nitely.

      • TriPowerVette

        I know what you mean. Mounted on a stand, it can’t cost you any more money.

        Praying to it for a couple hundred more horsepower, maybe?

      • BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

        No, not to the horsepower, to the name on the valve covers.

  19. Alan

    I once owned an RSK, 718-032, according to Porsche it had been the team car for Porsche Saalzburg (the Piech family) and was the European Hillclimb Championship car before coming to the US.I believe it later went to Ralph Lauren, no idea where it is now. It had the 547/2 4-cam with a spare /3 short block, a full set of a dozen interchangeable transmission gearsets, four spare Spyder radial fin drums, and more. Damn, wish I’d never sold it, but it was hammered in the rear and back then the repair was about what it was worth.

    Porsche four cams are magical motors. I know a guy who was one of the few capable of rebuilding them. He had a love-hate relationship depending on the current state of the particular motor. They sound phenomenal and in their time, they were absolutely the best in class. No other under 2 liter could win a short SCCA National, then go to Sebring and run 12 hours flat out.

    • TriPowerVette

      I gave you a thumbs up.

      For my part, there is NOTHING AUTOMOTIVE that sounds better than a Ford GT MK II, 427 Cobra, an 8-Litre McLaren or an L-88 Corvette at full song. I guess it’s the difference in chamber music and ‘Guns and Roses’ or ‘AC/DC’.

      Each to his own.

  20. HARD BALL

    I’m thinkin’ a Ferrari V-12 screaming through a tunnel! Gives me chills…

    • Jim

      No that’s a sound I would agree with but imagine a GT40 with a 427 FE side oiler at 8k rpm screaming thru that same tunnel. It would almost make a grown man cry.

  21. Pebblebeachjudge

    Sold for $506’000 plus juice. Restoration to come ……easily $250,000 , facture in 2’000 hours. Still a better deal than the Carrera 2 , unsold at 1.250.000 $.

    • BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

      Truth be told 904 Abarth be the way to go.

      • Ian

        Yeah, Bob, I agree. I have sat in a 904. I have spent hours walking around them, studying the lines. I have owned a couple of Porsches. I have mixed feelings about most of them. But, if a decent 904 came my way, and by some miracle I was able to afford it, I don’t think there would be a moment’s hesitation.

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