Carrera Speedster (82833) Provenance

By Jeff Gamble

All photos link to larger images

1968 Tucson Airport slalom. The car was owned by Sam Balsley at the time.

Some people enjoy the fruits of researching their Family tree through the power of the internet. It was by Gamble luck to learn the history of Carrera Speedster 82833.  The silver '57 Speedster would become like a family member when in 1968 fellow PCA Autocross pal Sam Balsley made a trip to California to trade his Pre A cabriolet for a Porsche that was faster than all the other Speedsters.  Sam wound up at none other than Vasek Polak's and traded that old red Cab for a Silver Carrera Speedster.  This car had all the trim shaved off and the 4 cam engine sounded like music to all of us.  However, unfortunately for Sam, the mighty Carrera quickly proved once again non-competitive at the tight autocrosses. Graduating from college Sam moved away from Tucson to Northern California, running the car at the Cotati race track with some success.  On his way to do a tour of duty with the Army Sam returned the Speedster to Tucson for storage.  About this same time (1973) with the advent of the 55 mph national speed limit I decided to return back to my 356 roots and sell my fast, beautiful '70s Signal Orange Targa.  After close scrutiny for dreaded rust I traded my set of American 911 racing wheels and slicks and cash for the old Silver Speedster with its sick 4 cam engine and limped it home.

Car in storage with Vasek Polak dealer licence plate frame.

#123 Phoenix International Raceway long course 1974-5 (Note steel air dam)

Body man Bob performing 250 hrs of Lead metal finishing

Riverside Region PCA time trial at Ontario Motor Speedway circa 1974,  Rustolium primer color

Within a short time a C engine and roll bar were installed and I was off to Holtville, California to run with the San Diego region PCA time trial hot shoes.  With the interior stripped out and the windshield removed the car was light and a lot of fun at the various tracks in So Cal and Arizona.  Stripping off the worn silver paint job I had the major discovery this Carrera Speedster had led an embattled life.  The left front fender was so bad Bob the body man almost replaced it but instead spent two hundred fifty agonizing hours straightening and leading the car plus widening the rear fenders to accept seven inch wide custom wheels.

You have to understand this was the early 70's when old Speedsters were just Old Speedsters and weren't worth a lot of money, so the fender mod was no big deal.  While the body work was in process I kept the car in running condition and Bob would primer over his work and then I'd go on a racing weekend using shoe polish numbers on his primer finish.  Finally crunch time was nearing to choose a paint color.  So to help decide I reviewed all my concours photos from the recently attended PCA Parade held at the Del Monte lodge at Pebble Beach.  As an extra 3D aid I molded a Speedster in Dental plaster and then painted the models my various favorite colors.

I also received the Factory Kardex, however it did not list the exterior color, perhaps because Black was not a standard Speedster color.  More than any other the one color that compelled me to go back and take a picture was "Black."  Making the choice was almost like when you find that special puppy at the pound that you must have and you know that's "The One".  The beauty of a classic car painted in hand rubbed Black lacquer is absolutely stunning when the car's metal work is straight as an arrow.  Hence forth, the Speedster stopped life as a Race car taking on a new title of "Black Beauty".  Master trimmer, Roy Nelson (then working at Ocean Beach Upholstery) of Autos International fame installed a natural tan leather interior and black vinyl Robbins top. After entering the car in shows and concours I noted it started to appreciate and by 1981 I was feeling uncomfortable driving such a valuable auto on the street.  Besides, the extra cash for a major house addition would be a good investment.  I placed an ad in the Registry and the Speedster was sold to Canadian Franz Klemet who faithfully drove it home via the Lake Tahoe West Coast Holiday.  A number of years (1983) later Franz rebuilt and reunited the 4 cam with the car and proudly showed it at the Whistler.  Franz then re-sold the car in the late 80's to a broker.

The Kardex pedigree

Plaster dental models used as
color samples on finished
Carrera Speedster fender.

Fast forward to Mr. Speedster Steve Heinrichs' Speedster Typ 540 book and Lee Raskin's chapter on celebrity-owned Speedsters.  Lee is of course the foremost authority on James Dean's Porsche ownership and related activities.  Raskin's extensive research led to the story of James Dean's close friend Lew Bracker who once owned and raced Dean's '55 Ivory Speedster after Dean's fatal Spyder wreck.  In 1956 Bracker expressed an interest to upgrade to a new, more powerful Carrera Speedster.  A meeting with LA-based Porsche distributor Competition Motors and Factory representatives; Bracker special ordered the first Carrera Speedster to be painted "Black".  How ironic and little did we know this same Speedster Sam and I once owned had belonged to Lew Bracker.  This brand new Speedster, while in his hands, won most all of the West Coast sports car races in the 1957 racing season.

Perhaps had I known the Provenance the custodianship trail may have been different.

3rd 356 West Coast Holiday Cinco de Mayo, Downtown civic center, Tucson, Arizona, circa 1979
1st Special interest

Lew Bracker racing at Riverside Raceway circa 1957 when 82833 Carrera Speedster was new.  Ahead of his time -- I love the way-cool matching graphics on his helmet.

Porsche, the Porsche Crest, Boxster and the distinctive designs of the Porsche vehicles are trademarks and trade dress of Dr Ing, h.c.F. Porsche AG.  Permission granted.