My Car Quest

July 22, 2024

Our Resident Historian Reveals An Obsession With Porsche “Turtle “ Cars

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.)”

Porsche 356 Coupe

The Porsche 356 Coupe is a classic design that didn’t change its basic shape from ’49 through ’65. Only the details and window and windshield shapes were changed.

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.

Porsche 356

Wyss says, “I like to show them at an event but subdue the background so it doesn’t take away from the car. This is at the Coronado races.”

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.”

Porsche 356 Speedster

The pre-A Speedsters have a particularly antique look with their beehive taillights…

Porsche 356

The mesh stoneguards add so much character to an utterly simple design…

Porsche 356

White – a rare color–tough choice between that and black.

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.”

Porsche 356

At first they look like a cabriolet, but the roadster windshield A-pillars are chrome with no body color.

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.”

Gmund Porsche 356

Gmund Porsche 356

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

THE AUTHOR: Richard Bartholomew is a fine artist in Riverside, California.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

Wallace Wyss

Wallace Wyss at work on his art



1996 Porsche 911 Logo

Our Resident Historian Reveals An Obsession With Porsche “Turtle “ Cars
Article Name
Our Resident Historian Reveals An Obsession With Porsche “Turtle “ Cars
Wallace Wyss has been obsessed with the Porsche 356 in all its variations since he was a boy.


  1. Just out of curiosity, where is Wallace physically in that photo above?

  2. Wallace Wyss says

    I know it looks like I’m in a prison with that fence but that is around Ontario CA. I frequently go to the mountains for background inspiration.

  3. I thought it looked familiar. My Lotus Europa passed ultimately northbound just north of there, about 60 mph 4 years ago. It was on a trailer, though… It’s on its way back to England now. Sometimes old guys with back problems have to give up on their dreams.

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