1953 Porsche 356 SL Le Mans

"When Porsche entered the 24 Hours of Le Mans race for the first time in 1951, it modified two of the last 11 aluminium-bodied pre-356 cars that had been built by Tatra in Vienna. The bodies had been languishing in storage in Salzburg and it turned out to be a serendipitous decision, as they were lighter and stronger than the steel shells that replaced them. The first cars to carry the company’s name on the nose, they were called the 356 SL (Super Light) and proved fiercely competitive in their class wherever they competed. In fact, seven of the last 11 cars still survive, along with a number of other aluminium-bodied SL conversions. Three cars are known to have been written off, and one of the two SLs that competed in the 1953 La Carrera Panamericana completely disappeared thereafter.

Two cars were sent to the 1951 Le Mans race, but Rudolph Sauerwein crashed #47 in the rainy practice, leaving only French drivers August Veuillet and Edmond Mouche in #46. They finished 20th and won the 751 cc–1,100 cc class. Three SLs returned to Le Mans in 1952, with Veuillet/Mouch finishing 11th–again, winning their class. Two SLs were entered in 1953 as well. By that time, however, the factory was concentrating on the Porsche 550 model.

The SLs represented an auspicious start for Porsche’s competition record, and this recreation was constructed from the ground up, with painstaking thoroughness and new parts by a respected German restoration company in 2006 and 2007. Based on a 1953 steel body, this Porsche is powered by a 100 bhp, 1,600 cc engine, with dual Weber carburettors. It is finished in matte silver and features aluminium wheel arch covers and louvers on the side windows and engine cover. It has a correct “banjo” steering wheel, GT seats, as were used in the Speedsters, and a grey/blue leather interior. The electrical system has been upgraded to 12 volts and the larger 60 mm Carrera brakes have been fitted. The car carries a sports exhaust, auxiliary lights and an oil cooler, and comes complete with German registration, TUV paperwork and ownership documents."