Sold for $1,430,000 at 2018 Gooding & Company : Pebble Beach.
The Porsche 911 is one of the most recognizable sports car in history. It made its debut in September of 1963 at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Initially called the 901, the new model was renamed the 911 when Peugeot claimed the worldwide trademark rights to all three-digit car model designations with a '0' as the middle number. The newly designed Porsche 901/911 two-liter, air-cooled flat-six was advanced in comparison to the Volkswagen-derived Porsche 356 engine, and offered a zero-to-sixty mph time of 8.3 seconds.
Production of the Porsche 356 ceased in 1965. With the introduction of the new 911/912, Porsche dealers and customers pondered whether Porsche would build an open-air version. A semi-convertible Targa version was in the works, but some - including John von Neumann, a Southern California Porsche dealer - believed that would not quench the desire for a completely open-top car.
Von Neumann and auto distributor Max Hoffman had successfully promoted the idea of building a stripped-down and lower-priced 356 Speedster to Ferry Porsche. For this project, however, Von Neumann approached Italian car designer Nuccio Bertone with the idea.
Zuffenhausen provided von Neumann with a bare chassis which was sent to the workshops of Carrozzeria Bertone in Torino. Since the vehicle would carry the Porsche name, the company insisted that it would have the final say on production, despite the fact that von Neumann was funding the project.
After nine months of development, the resulting vehicle clearly exhibited an Italian design, incorporating many of Bertone's previous styling elements used on past projects including the 1965 Fiat 850 Spider and the 1963 Testudo show car. The leather interior differed from the standard 911 and featured unique seats, a center console, and main instrumentation laid out vertically down a central stack.
The exterior was finished in a shade of Carmine Red over a cream colored interior and fitted with Campagnolo wheels. It is believed that the original engine was a standard two-liter flat six producing 130 horsepower. The completed project was put on display at the Geneva Auto Show in March of 1966. Although well received, von Neumann was unable to secure any firm orders, conceding that the Targa would be the more practical and economical choice for series production.
Following its show duties, the unique Spyder was exported to the United States and retained by von Neumann for a number of years. It entered the care of one individual prior to its acquisition by Mark Smith of Lynchburg, Virginia, who had the Spyder refinished in its current black over beige leather livery. Mr. Smith displayed the Spyder at the 39th Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, where designer Nuccio Bertone was honored, in August 1989.
Marv Tonkin acquired the Spyder around 1990, who later sold it in 1993 to its current caretaker. The Spyder is currently in well-preserved condition; it has been on static display in climate-controlled storage for many years. It has recently received a mechanical refreshing.
At some point the car received an upgraded 901/02 'S' specification engine as well as a set of 914-6 Mahle 'Gas Burner' alloy wheels. It has four-wheel disc brakes, five-speed manual transaxle, and an independent suspension with torsion bars. The flat 6-cylinder engine is fitted with twin Weber carburetors and produces 160 horsepower.By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2018