The Porsche 356 is the legendary precursor to the 911 and one of the most beautiful cars ever made. It’s a car Porsche traditionalists love. Well-heeled buyers can push 356 auction prices into the millions, even when the pedigree is dubious. It’s also a car that can annoy those same traditionalists to no end. The 356 has simple, easily replicable bodywork. It is not uncommon for fans to buy a body kit, throw in a Volkswagen engine and get the look for way less.
Rod Emory resides somewhere between those extremes. Emory builds some of the most exquisite Porsche 356s you’ve never seen. But he takes a decidedly less orthodox approach toward preserving tradition. He creates what you might call “FrankenPorsches” that embody the essence, if not the precise form of Porsche’s heritage. His latest build, the 1959 1/2 Transitional Speedster in Aquamarine, is an absolute beauty.
The first Porsche sacrilege? The company only produced Speedsters from 1954 to 1958, replacing the model with the Convertible Type D in 1959. Emory modified the bodywork on a coupe, as 1956-61 A and B coupes lend themselves well to Speedster conversion. Traditionalists can rest assured, though: Emory did not harm a pristine 356 coupe in the production of this Porsche. He used a donor car with a compromised roof from a car accident.
Besides not having traditional bodywork, Emery’s Transitional Speedster uses his proprietary Emory-Rothsport Outlaw-4 engine in place of the original. The Outlaw, co-developed with a former Porsche GT racing crew chief, is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder delivering 205 horsepower. The Transitional Speedster includes the necessary component modifications to accommodate about three times the vehicle’s original power.
The 1959 1/2 Transitional Speedster is most definitely not the 356 Porsche built. But it reinterprets the 356’s ethos for the modern era. And if you need further justification for this car’s right to exist, just look at it.