by Richard Bartholomew –
“I suspect Ferdinand Porsche, as a boy in the 1800s, had a pet turtle,” says Wallace Wyss, writer, who is presently hip-deep in research for the reprinting of the revised Porsche 356 Photo Album book.
“The first time I saw a Porsche 356 was about sixty years ago, drifting on the ice during a race on the frozen surface of on Lake Orion, Michigan,” Wyss recalls. “I remember asking my dad what those little turtle-shaped cars were and he said they were from Germany. I noted they were leaving the American cars in the dust (if you can have dust on an ice racing course…Ed.)”
Many decades later Wyss wrote a book on Porsche, and it went out of print. When his publisher recently proposed reviving it, Wyss joined the turtle car trail. “In one year I did the Monterey Rolex Revival, the Rennfest, the Dana Point show, the Coronado vintage races, the LA Airport Porsche Toy and Literature show, and the Porsche 356 Owner’s Club Palms to Pines run,” he says.
Meanwhile, for his art and books booth at Monterey, Wyss has begun adding portraits of his favorite Porsches to go along with his usual catalog of Italian cars. Here’s a selected look at his turtle car art, with his comments.
Abarth: “These Franco Scaglione-designed cars are extremely well done, sort of the Fiat Abarth Zagato writ large on a Porsche 356B chassis. What’s funny is how much they louvered the rears to keep the engine cool, hacking away at a design that was initially perfect.”
Speedster: “Ironically these were the lowest price loss leader Porsche back then, at $2,995 USD. And yet because of exposure in films, and being owned by famous people (i.e. James Dean to name one) they are among the most desirable ones. A matching-numbers Carrera version could reach $1 million by 2018.”
Roadster: “The roadster made a lot more sense than the Speedster because it had roll-up windows instead of those damn side curtains, and only a slightly more erect windscreen, but much of the same character. One clue toward spotting a roadster instead of a cabriolet is that the windshield posts are chrome–no body color included.”
Gmunds: “This one is interesting because Johnny non Neumann, Porsche’s first dealer in California, imported the factory racing coupe, cut the roof off and raced it. Then Chuck Forge raced it for about 30 years until it was bought and a new body built to being it back to the way it ran at LeMans.”
Wyss’ Porsche art will make its premiere in Paso Robles April 23rd at a Porsche 356 meet at the Allegretto Vineyard Resort, 2700 Buena Vista Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446. Mail orders can be accomplished by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE AUTHOR: Richard Bartholomew is a fine artist in Riverside, California.
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