Los Angeles Modern Auctions' (LAMA) headlining lot for its Art + Design sale on June 23rd is a truly singular Porsche, the Modified 356 Speedster from the Collection of Robert Morris.
The 1956 automobile was purchased by the renowned Minimalist sculptor in the 1970s and the artist went on to implement his own series of customizations, bringing it firmly into the realm of art. Most recently, the spectacular vehicle was celebrated at the invitation-only Bridge V automobile event in the fall of 2021, where it was exhibited among more than 250 rare cars. The Morris Speedster is estimated to bring about $250,000 to $350,000.
Morris’s 356 Porsche Speedster comprises a unique – and perhaps uniquely American – intersection of art and design. A leading proponent of Minimalism, Morris was a conceptually driven artist and thinker whose sculpture and sculptural installations of the 1960s and 1970s gravitated towards feats of industrial fabrication with commercially available materials including aluminum and steel. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that Morris enlisted his sculpture assistant, Rolf Horst, to also help customize the Speedster with modifications influenced by the Porsche RS-61, including an aluminum head fairing, passenger tonneau cover, alloy seat, and alloy rear wheel spats. Morris also opted to strip the car’s body of all trim, including the removal of door handles to create a smooth body line unique to his Speedster. For the interior, Morris installed custom elements including a blacked-out vinyl dash and diamond-tread rubber floor mats. Thus renovated, Morris drove the Speedster until 2007, when he chose to dissemble it and paint it silver, hanging the freshly painted panels on the walls of his New York studio.
Colloquially known as “outlaw Porsches,” modified Porsches bring verve and flair to already highly coveted automobiles. The 356 Speedster was the company’s first production model, and is among today’s most desirable collector models. First introduced in 1954 as a relatively affordable, lightweight sports car with an open-top and sleek, pared down design, the model became instantly and tremendously popular with American, and particularly Southern Californian, markets.
Bearing his aesthetic choices, Morris’s “outlaw” Modified 356 Speedster is both an historic luxury automobile and a work of art that crisscrosses through the creative and industrial currents of the 20th century. LAMA is delighted to bring this rare vehicle with extraordinary provenance to auction on June 23rd. The Modified 356 Speedster will be available for preview in Los Angeles, by appointment, from June 16 through auction day on June 23rd.