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One-of-a-kind 1966 Porsche 911 Spyder headed to auction

by Ronan Glon

Would you pay $1 million for it?

Vintage Porsche collectors will have the opportunity to buy a one-of-a-kind 911 during an auction taking place later this month alongside the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

The model in question is a 911 Spyder made in 1966. Don't worry if it doesn't ring a bell; it's a one-off model designed and manufactured by Italian coachbuilder Bertone in the mid-1960s with Porsche's blessing. The idea allegedly came from John von Neumann, a sports car dealer in southern California with a tremendous amount of influence. When he spoke, the brands he represented -- including Porsche and Ferrari -- listened carefully.

Bertone and von Neumann envisioned the 911 Spyder as a regular-production model sold alongside the standard hardtop variant and the new-for-1966 Targa to fill the gap left by the 356 Speedster. They displayed it at the 1966 Geneva auto show to convince Porsche to approve the project but officials ultimately decided they didn't want the car.

At the time, automakers feared the American government would ban convertibles for safety reasons. Focusing on the 911 Targa was a safer bet. adds the Spyder would have cost $8,000 (roughly $62,000 in 2018), or about 30 percent more than the Targa. And, finally, Ferry Porsche admitted he had a difficult time accepting the idea of putting his family's name on a car designed in Italy. The project was shelved, though Bertone later recycled several of the Spyder's defining styling cues when its desginers drew the Fiat 850 Spider.

The car's life after the Geneva show remains a bit of a mystery. All we know for sure is that it somehow ended up in the hands of a private owner and it's no longer original. In Geneva, it wore red paint, it sat on Campagnolo wheels, and it used a 130-horsepower, 2.0-liter flat-six borrowed from the standard 911. It's currently black, it rides on different alloys, and it has been upgraded to 911 S specification with a 160-horsepower six. The registration sticker on the California-issued license plate indicates it hasn't been legally driven on a public road since 1984, though it has evidently been cared for and it presumably runs and drives.

The car will change hands for the first time in a quarter of a century during the Pebble Beach auction. Auction house Gooding & Company it will sell for anywhere between $700,000 and $1 million.

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