VAN NUYS, Calif. – The headlining lot at Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)‘s Art + Design sale on Thursday, June 23 will be a truly singular Porsche: the modified 356 Speedster from the collection of Minimalist sculptor Robert Morris (American, 1931-2018). The Morris Porsche Speedster is estimated at $250,000-$350,000. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
The 1956 automobile was purchased by the renowned artist in the 1970s and he 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 cars of remarkable provenance.
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 removing the 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 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 today ranks among the most desired by collectors. First introduced in 1954 as a relatively affordable lightweight sports car with an open top and sleek, pared down design, this Porsche became instantly and tremendously popular with American, and particularly Southern Californian, markets.
Bearing his aesthetic choices, Morris’s “outlaw” modified 356 Speedster is both a historic luxury automobile and a work of art that crisscrosses through the creative and industrial currents of the 20th century.
The modified 356 Speedster will be available for preview in Los Angeles, by appointment, from June 16 through auction day on June 23. LAMA representatives will be glad to assist interested bidders in reviewing full specs and vehicle history upon request.
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