Friday, January 24, 2014

"A Young Man's Fancy" By Howard Fisher

Excerpts from the article in the September/October 2012 issue of  Porsche 356 Registry.

I joined the Army and in 1958 was sent to Germany as a tank crewman in the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fulda, Germany.
Finally, in the summer of 1959, I contacted Autohaus Hans Kahrmann, GMBH in Fulda. They were one of the four Porsche distributors in Germany. I ordered a Convertible D on August 4, 1959. Shortly thereafter, I must have been told by Herr Haupt that instead of the "D" my car would be the new 356B Roadster. I'm sure that pleased me. The car was delivered to me on November 12, 1959. It was VIN 87 126, engine P 600 841, and was the 295th Roaster built. The car was a 1600 Normal, ivory with black interior and came with Englebert tires. Its only option was a radio antenna. At the dealer, I installed a Blaupunkt Bremen radio. For the basic car I paid $ 2,875.00. The antenna was $13.10, the radio $96.50, and transportation from Stuttgart to Fulda $30.00. As an American soldier, I paid no sales taxes. The sum total $ 3,014.60. A year's insurance was $94.25.
Howard Fisher with his Roadster on top of the Edersee Dam with the Edersee (Eder Lake) in the background. The dam was one of the three dams destroyed by British Lancaster bombers in their famous raid, portrayed in the film "The Dam Busters"

For comparison purposes, a Volkswagen in the U.S. cost $1,695.00 plus tax plus miscellaneous charges (about $100-150). The same car for a soldier in Germany was $1,130 and no tax. Despite the low cost and incentive, very few GIs could afford a VW let alone a Porsche. In fact the overwhelming majority of soldiers had no car. They relied on Germany's marvelous and inexpensive taxi and train systems.
I drove my Porsche throughout Europe and England. As a soldier gas was cheap, only 13 cents a gallon. Traffic on the Autobahn was not especially heavy because in 1956 only 1 in 25 Germans owned a car (Christophorus, English Ed; Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 1, 1956). But you did had to be aware of American tank columns on the move. The famous Autobahn had no speed limit. However, a sign of the future was a 100 kmh limit in the Heidelberg area because of increasing traffic. Off the autobahn, the roads were challenging, picturesque, historical and just plain fun.
The "Porsche Family" was not genetic but was comprised of all the company's managers, workers, representatives, mechanics and the Porsche customers and drivers. The Zeitgeist (spirit of the times)  was a synergistic interaction of affection, courtesy, service, reliability, loyalty and professionalism so unique to that time and place that it will never be duplicated. Whenever we passed another Porsche both drivers always blinked their headlights to say hello and to acknowledge our kindred spirits.
Howard cleaning the '59 roadster on a winter day in Germany

When I left Germany, I shipped my car from Bremen to New York City and thence Newark, New Jersey. The transportation cost was $157.23. Subsequently, I drove across the United States, using in part the original Route 66 from Chicago to California, a wonderful and now historic route.

Taken on a Sunday morning in February, 1960 as army buddies look over the car. Howard is at far right.
When discharged from the Army, I went to a four year s of college and drove the Porsche the entire time. It was a wonderful car to have as a college student. In 1965, upon leaving for graduate school at UC Berkeley and because of money pressure, I sold the car to my younger brother with the stipulation that he would sell it back to me. But without asking or telling me, he sold it to unknown party. This really upset me. The purchasing party is unknown beacuse my brother died at a very early age, I did not get a chance to really discuss it with him. However, I am still in possession of every document associated with the car during its German period.
Howard today with his '56 Speedster
 Finally I currently own a concours condition, white with a black interior, 1956 Speedster and a Boxster. I drive the Speedster up the Pacific Coast very early every Sunday morning when no other cars are on the road. And for a couple hours, I am 19 years old again.  

Howard Fisher -now- in his 1956 Speedster at Personalized Autohaus

If you have a vintage Porsche Repair or Restoration project contact Wayne Baker expert - give us a call at (858) 586-7771 or e-mail

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