Skip to main content

The $1.4 Million Porsche 911 That You've Probably Never Heard Of

I'm sure there are some out there who would think that messing with the iconic 911 shape is blasphemy. But for the rest of us, this 911 may just be the prettiest 911 ever made. The reason you probably have never heard of it is because only one was ever made and it was built over 50 years ago.

Back in the early 911 days (i.e. 1960's-1970's), Porsche didn't make a 911 Cabriolet. The engineers in Stuttgart didn't think they could design a convertible version (or perhaps feasibly build one) that would meet the American National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rollover safety regulations, which is part of the reason the 911 Targa exists.

Since the American market was quite important to Porsche as far as sales and profitability of the 911, a convertible wasn't built back then. It wasn't until 1981 that Porsche showed the world a concept 911 Cabriolet at the Frankfurt Motor Show and a production version didn't come out until late 1982 as a 1983 model year. This may not seem like much of an issue... unless you're a huge Porsche enthusiast living in California (with a big bag of money to spend).

Johnny von Neumann met that exact description. Johnny wasn't just any Porsche fan with a lot of cash, though. He was fully immersed in motorsports and even helped arrange a hill climb in 1948 and an open road race. He also (successfully) raced Porsches and Ferraris and was the US West Coast distributor for Porsche and VW at the time (you can read more about him on Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car). As you might imagine, someone like that wouldn't be interested in simply hacking the roof off of a 911. He wanted it done properly.

What he didn't want, though, was to build just one for himself. He believed there would be a market for a car like this, especially in California, so he didn't even just take a production 911 and properly modified it. Instead, he went to Porsche and got a bare 911 chassis, then took it to Italian coachwork legend Nuccio Bertone to build him a custom 911 convertible. That's right. This is a 911 styled by Bertone.

Johnny funded the whole project himself and was hoping to eventually put it into production, provided that Porsche agrees. Judging by the looks, Bertone had full liberty in the design and, short of the Porsche and 911 badges (and perhaps the swollen rear end to the keen eye), you'd never guess this was anything but a beautiful Italian drop-top.

Inside, the instrumentation and some of the switch gear were repurposed, but it is a clear and exquisite departure from the functional utilitarian interior of a classic 911, never mind that some of the dials ended up buried six feet under and behind the gear shifter... Bertone kept all the mechanicals, though, but some of it was upgraded over the years.

The engine is the 2.0 litre flat six from the 911S with twin Weber carburetors making 160 hp and the wheels are off of a 914/6 (Mahle Gas Burner wheels for the Porsche aficionados). When it was all done, it debuted at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show as the Porsche 911 Spyder.

A revelation; a 911 with enough room in the back to actually work on it!

Unfortunately, no one placed any orders for it so Porsche canned the project. Johnny took the only one that Bertone had built back home with him. As you'd expect, it exchanged hands a number of times over the years, presumably privately, but it ended up on sale at the GOODING & COMPANY 2018 Pebble Beach (California) Auction. Prior to the auction, GOODING & COMPANY estimated it would go for somewhere between $700,000 and a cool $1M, but it ended up selling for nearly 50% more than the highest they thought it would go for; a much cooler $1,430,000.

That may not seem like a whole lot in a world where Ferrari 250 GTO's seem to break their own records year after year, an example of which most recently sold at auction for $48.4 million. But a classic car selling for over $1 million at auction is actually not an every day achievement and the sale price makes it one of the most expensive 911's ever sold, so it is in an elite group of cars. It is certainly a one-of-a-kind, and a gorgeous one at that.

Although far less expensive than the Ferrari 250 GTO (and it has exactly zero racing pedigree), it is actually more rare being the only one in existence and the only one ever built, so it is quite a special car. That said, I'm sure it isn't to everyone's taste. What do you think? Is this a marriage made in heaven between German engineering and Italian styling, or it's the ruination of an automotive icon; the 911 shape?

Follow Ram's Eye The Track Guy on Facebook and Instagram!


Does An Aftermarket Grille Really Increase Airflow?
I put a Saleen S281 grille to the test to answer that question.

Stock Suspension S197 Mustang With Square 305/30/19's
What you need to fit a proper size square tire setup.

How Limited Slip Diffs Make You Faster on Track
What you need to know about how they put power down and pros and cons.

Can Telemetry Explain Schumacher's Talent?
A comparison between Schumacher's and then team mate Herbert's data.

Cayman GT4 Track Review
The first Cayman with proper (911-challenging) power.

Is an EcoBoost Mustang any good on Track?
Two days at the track in a Mustang short 4 cylinders.

2016 BMW M4 DCT Track Review
It's quick (properly quick). But is it fun?

Can a stock Golf Diesel handle a Track Day?
Not your every day track beater.

🔥 Most Visited This Week

Michelin Pilot Super Sports vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 - Street Review

I've been a huge fan of Michelin PSS tires and exclusively bought them for the Mustang over the last four years. So how did I end up here? This year, I was hugely interested in trying an "R-comp" tire. I had my eyes set on Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R's for two simple reasons: price and reputation. Although not a true "R-comp" tire on paper, it performs like one by the account of every single test and review I've read (down to wear rates...). They seem like they're easily the most affordable (from a big brand) R-comp tire and combine that with a reputation for having tons of grip, it was an easy top contender. I had my concerns, though. For one, I'm told and have read that they are an autox tire, not really designed for high speed, pressure, and temps associated with open track. For another, the Mustang is a heavy car (as far as track cars are concerned) being roughly 3,800 lb. (including driver), which will amplify the unwanted open track loads.…

Stock Suspension S197 Mustang With Square 305/30/19's

If you've had any doubts about whether or not they will fit, fear not! You absolutely can run square 305/30/19's. I had a lot of doubts before pulling the trigger, even more so when the wheels where on the car. The tires do poke out a bit and I figured rubbing is all but guaranteed at full compression but I couldn't be happier I trusted APEX and those on here who have run it.

Here's what you need:

1. Camber plates: I have MM C/C plates and they are maxed out at -2.3 deg with the stock struts. I have been running them for years with many track days without issue.

2. 1"/25 mm spacer: I have Motorsport-tech 1" spacers and they look like high quality units. There is maybe a 1/4 inch clearance in the back so you can't go any narrower than 25 mm. and you want Design 2.

3. Elongated studs: your best bet is to get the FPP hubs with elongated studs instead of reusing the old one. Bearings are consumables anyway so…

Michelin PSS vs Firestone Indy 500 - Track Review

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my first impressions of Michelin's PSS vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 tires. I've run PSS's for several years on the Boss, but I'm trying the Indy 500's for the first time. In short, I was worried about the narrower tires (I was running 285/35/18 PSS but could only find the Indy 500 in 275/35/18) and tread squirm, but I was happy with them up to that point just driving on the street. I had the chance to drive on them for three track days now. So what were they like? After my first session, they made an impression that basically persisted for the rest of track sessions on them. Phenomenal, unmatched value. Now, if value is something that stands out above all else, it typically means the compromise between qualities you want and those you don't is less than ideal, but the value is attractive. This is no different. I'll start with the bad, which really boil down to two: ultimate grip and grip longevity.

Grip is noticeably lowe…

The Truth behind Owning a Modified Ferrari 458 Italia

After driving and reviewing this modified 620 hp Ferrari 458 Italia, I talk to the owner to find out the truth behind owning and living with a modern Ferrari. This isn't a garage queen Ferrari either, it serves double duty as an every day car and track car. Watch to find out ownership costs, reliability, and experience. Interested in joining Scott at the track? Check out MHPDC.

Liked this? Make sure to subscribe so you don't miss new videos!

Follow Rams Eye The Track Guy on Facebook and Instagram!

View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Michael R (@ramseyethetrackguy) on May 21, 2019 at 5:17pm PDT