Chassis #: 12336
The 540 was Porsche's first production race car, created at the behest of U.S. importer Max Hoffman and West Coast Porsche dealer Johnny Von Neumann. The American Roadster, was it came to be known, was built to compete in the F-Production Class in SCCA races. Only 16 aluminum roadsters were bodied by Glaser-Heuer Karosserie. All had full road equipment, but all were raced at some time in their life, and they were made race-ready by removing the bumpers, the convertible top, the windshield and side curtains, then taken straight to the track. Equipped with Porsche's 70 horsepower, 1500cc engine, the lightweight sports car (weighing only 1,580 pounds) was capable of a top speed of 110 mph and could accelerate from zero-to-sixty mph in 9.3 seconds. They could easily shed 150 pounds and become race-ready by removing the bumpers, convertible top and windshield.
This first-series American Roadster was originally sold to California racer John Crean by John von Neumann, who often loaned the car to Von Neumann's stepdaughter, Josie, and with this car, she became the first woman to be granted a USAC racing license. She won her first race in the car in December 1952 at Torrey Pines. One of eleven 540s that survive, it has covered just 10,495 miles.
The American Roadster as it became known helped Porsche establish its racing presence in the United States and was ultimately the inspiration for the legendary Porsche 356 Speedster.