1989 Porsche Speedster

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214 bhp, 3,165 cc SOHC horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine with Bosch digital motor fuel injection, five-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with McPherson struts, lower A-arms, coil springs, and a sway bar, independent rear suspension with semi-trailing arms, coil springs, and a sway bar, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 89.4 in.

  • Celebrity ownership by Mrs. Roy Orbison
  • Factory black-on-black car with numerous special options
  • Showing 18,000 actual miles
  • Recently serviced and well-maintained

The original Porsche 356 Speedster of 1954–1959, built at the urging of powerful U.S. importer Max Hoffman, was to be an inexpensive sports car for the youth market. Its raffish good looks and minimalist equipment, which included a cut-down windshield and “emergencies only” top, clicked with customers, and original Speedsters continue to be fiercely sought and prized by Porsche enthusiasts.

After the model was discontinued in 1959, its concept floated around the factory for the next 30 years, before styling chief Tony Lapine transported a number of its cues to a limited-production model, with the intention of calming the hordes eagerly awaiting the new 964. The new Speedster was priced at $65,000, which was a $12,000 premium over the 911 Targa, and it featured a raked, cut-down windshield. It was a true two-passenger car, with twin “camel humps” covering the space where the 911’s vestigial rear seat had been.

Only 2,065 Speedsters were made, and only 824 of those were sent stateside, where fierce demand attracted prices as high as $100,000. Accordingly, the Speedster was a collectible when it was new and has remained so ever since, with almost every important Porsche collection containing one within their walls.

The car offered here is documented by a copy of the original M.S.O. (title), which is on file, as having been purchased new by Barbara Orbison, the wife of rock and roll legend Roy Orbison and a well-known music producer and entrepreneur in her own right. Roy Orbison enjoyed an exceptional career, with such hits as “Pretty Woman” and “You Got It,” and had played with Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and many other renowned artists.

This Speedster has been well-preserved since new, as it presently records about 18,000 actual miles and shows the light use that one would expect from an enjoyed car. The chassis, engine, and transmission numbers all match those recorded on the Porsche Certificate of Authenticity, as do the numerous rare and special options, which include the Blaupunkt Cheyenne radio (replacing the original “Charleston” model), sport seats with electric height adjustment, a storage compartment in place of the rear seats, cruise control, a factory alarm system, air conditioning, a luggage compartment in black velour, and California emissions equipment. In addition, the CoA confirms that this is one of the few Speedsters to have originally been finished in that most desirable color combination of triple black.

This Porsche is an elegant yet mysterious sports car that is entirely suitable to the famous persona of Roy Orbison, and it is appropriate for the enthusiast of either rock and roll history or fine low-mileage 911s.

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Text by RM Sotheby’s

Photos by Patrick Ernzen courtesy of RM Sotheby’s