What It’s Like to Buy a Custom Porsche From 1959

Italy’s Zagato only made nine. Here’s the story of one.

Custom 1959 Porsche 356 Zagato Coupe
When Zagato publicly announced their Porsche 356 Coupe, it was already sold out.
Zagato
By Alex Lauer / February 6, 2020 7:30 am

In April 2018, legendary Italian coachbuilder Zagato announced it would build nine editions of a rare Porsche. The 1959 356 Carrera Coupe was so rare, in fact, that Zagato had only recently discovered their own design existed. But by the time they publicly revealed the project, the company had already sold all nine units. 

You might be wondering, who gets access to these limited-edition vehicles? Where do they end up? The Wall Street Journal recently tracked down one of these Porsche 356 Zagato Coupes and got the story from the owner, 37-year-old Benjamin Clymer, the founder and CEO of watch magazine and online store Hodinkee.

“Four years ago, I was at a watch show in Basel, Switzerland, and the coachbuilding firm Zagato was there exhibiting car designs,” writes Clymer. “I met with them and they had this project they wanted to share with me. That is when I learned about the 356 Zagato Coupe.”

In other words, when it comes to high-end, bespoke automobiles, whether we’re talking about a coachbuilder like Zagato or a marque like Ferrari, these companies will reach out to potential buyers first, rather than the other way around. How Zagato zeroed in on Clymer is not clear, but he does mention that he bought a Lancia with a custom Zagato body around 2015, so there was precedent. 

The photo above is Zagato’s rendering of the car, but what does Clymer’s final product look and feel like? The Journal snapped some photos, but Clymer describes it as a 1959 Porsche 356 but with a hand-hammered aluminum body, custom color and leather interior, and driver specifications designed for him personally.

OK, now the real question: How much did it cost? As Clymer writes, “It took almost three years to build this car and it cost roughly what a new Porsche 911 GT2 RS would cost.” That’s a demure way of saying somewhere north of $290,000.

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