The Heroic Effort to Save Porsche's First Le Mans Winner

It took years to restore the Porsche 356 that won its class at Le Mans in 1951.


In 1951, Porsche made its first appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, winning the 1.1-liter class with the 356 SL you see above. It previewed Porsche's dominance of the race for decades to come. Today, it appears just as it did at the famous French circuit, but that wasn't always the case.

After Le Mans, Porsche actually sold this 356 to American privateers who raced it throughout the 1950s. First, its livery was changed, then someone chopped its roof off to turn it into a Speedster. And its provenance wasn't well documented, leading the car to fly under the radar for years.

Racer Cameron Healy eventually bought this 356, and with some research, determined it was the 1951 Le Mans car. Armed with that knowledge, Healy ed to bring it back to the glory. What followed, as captured beautifully in , was a painstaking restoration taking a number of years.

Emory is a true artisan, using old-world techniques, a lot of research, and 3D modeling to get this 356 back to where it should be. It's a true labor of love, and it makes for a fascinating watch.

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