This Custom 1953 Porsche 356 Limo Is a Retro 1950s Style Panamera
11 November 2019 - autoevolution
Porsche only made its first production sedan in 2009, despite looking into the idea several times in decades past - the 989 almost went into production in the early 90s, but it was ultimately canceled.
Therefore, it never made a four-door before the Panamera, and we’re pretty sure nobody in the company thought about making sedans back in the early days, in the 1950s, when the company was just starting out. Back then, it was focused on making sports cars and going racing - practical cars were not on the agenda.
In fact, while the 356 is such a beloved model praised for its many qualities, it was neither particularly comfortable or spacious inside. In buying one, you made a compromise between how it looked and how well it drove (especially considering its engine hung all the way out in the rear).
So if sedans were definitely out of the question for Porsche in the 1950s, then a long-wheelbase, stretched limo would have probably evoked gales of laughter back then. Even to this day, in fact, asking a car person to picture 356 limo will still make them smirk.
Yet such a thing does exist, and once you take a better peek, it won’t seem as ridiculous. It’s a one-off commissioned by John Dixon (known for his extensive car collection) for his daughter’s wedding some thirty years ago. The work to convert it into what it is today was carried out by Don Boeke of Egyptian Custom Body in Dayton Ohio.
The donor car is what nowadays we would call a pre-A 356 Coupe, the earliest, rarest and most sought after of all 356 models. You can easily tell these apart from newer 356 incarnations by the V-shaped windscreen (also referred to as the “bent-window”) that was abandoned for the 356 A, and they even have pop-out semaphore turn signals in the B-pillar.
In order to achieve the significant wheelbase increase, a large piece of extra chassis was installed between the two axles. The front part of the car is pretty much stock, yet for the construction of the rear, pieces from several cars were used - we aren’t told exactly what cars or how many, just that it’s more than one car.
Overall, the exterior looks as close as something like this can to a car that rolled off the Porsche production line. The stretch is quite well integrated into the overall design, and it all flows together as well as something based on this formula could ever flow - it does look like a snake that has swallowed prey a bit too big for its stomach, yet even so it’s not bad; it’s just a bit weird looking.
It even has “Limousine“ badges on the front fenders and rear hood whose script perfectly mimic the factory Porsche lettering. And it’s the attention to detail that ties it all together for this project - it could have gone horribly wrong, and it’s the little things that help it make sense.
However, while the exterior is interesting and surprisingly not offensive at all, it’s probably the interior that is most impressive. The front compartment where the driver and front passenger sit is identical to that of any pre-A 356, but it’s the rear that really shocks.
Not only is it exceptionally roomy, but with the divider in place, it really does feel like a limo back there. That bench seat looks really comfortable too - if you ride in the back of this thing, you’ll really feel like you’re being transported in a period-correct luxury sedan, something like a mini-Rolls Royce or Bentley.
The fancy feeling this car gives you is further emphasized by the rear-hinged rear doors, as well as the tan fabric sunroof and just how nicely the interior is finished. The seats are trimmed in a part fabric, part faux leather combo that really works, and there is an exceptional number of period accessories that lend it credibility.
Those ashtrays, with the floral pattern, the thermometer, the clock and the Blaupunkt radio blanking plate all just add to the overall experience.
In order to make it function properly as a road car, the vehicle’s original engine was swapped out for a flat-four from the newer Porsche 912 and even that had to be upgraded with better pistons and uprated cams in order to be able to shift its extra mass. On top of this, the standard springs were swapped out for air springs in order to preserve the car’s ride height when passengers are on board.
It’s definitely a strange creation, one that may outrage some Porsche purists who would, I’m certain, argue that cutting up an uber-rare pre-A 356 is sacrilege, especially because the price of such cars are skyrocketing.
But even this 356 Limousine is valued at well over $200,000, and it’s so well done (and so unique) that it deserves every cent.