1951 Porsche 356 SL Roadster – Ultimate Guide
When Porsche went to Le Mans, they reverted to aluminum shells made at their first factory in Gmünd, Austria. Three of these coupes, called 356 SL, raced Le Mans and one of those is the car you see here.
California dealer and driver John von Neumann acquired one of the three coupes, easily identified by its covered wheel spats. All three Le Mans cars were shipped to America by Max Hoffman and sold to Fritz Kosler, Ed Trego and John von Neumann for SCCA racing. Two of these appeared at the 12-hours of Vero Beach. Both Trego and von Neumann also appeared at the 1952 Pebble Beach Road Races but were limited by their mechanical brakes.
Before the 1952 races at Torrey Pines, von Neumann had Emil Diedt remove the coupe’s roof, creating in effect the first Carrera Speedster. Not until 1954 did the first prototype Carrera Speedsters surface and the production versions appeared a year later.
Only after a few events von Neumann sold his roadster probably to focus on his successful VW/Porsche dealership. The car continued to be raced and was eventually purchased by Chuck Forge in 1957 who has owned the car for over 50 years.