In the Rearview Mirror: Color me orange

March 30, 2021

Hagerty Drivers Club Magazine
McKeel Hagerty

Where you live, it may be driving season already. Not so for me. Driving season here— way up north in Michigan, just south of the 45th parallel—takes its sweet time arriving. We don’t have crocuses yet. We have snow. But soon I’ll be out there, and I can’t wait.

One of my first drives will be in a 1958 Porsche 356A Speedster that I bought last October, which is very late in the driving season here. I only had time for a few quick spins before it was time to pack it away for the winter. I’m eager for more.

I was lucky to find this car. Speedsters are always in high demand, but this one is really cool because it is orange. Not Creamsicle orange or crayon orange—it’s more of a burnt orange, which is incredibly rare. When you think of a Porsche 356, you think silver first, then black, or white or blue. Red was supposedly very popular in California. Porsche made roughly 76,000 356s, but only a tiny handful were specified by the factory with this particular shade of orange. It cost an extra $26, and the factory had to ship it across town to a custom paint shop.

The choice those few customers made intrigues me. What was it about this unique shade of orange that was so alluring? Did it simply make them happy? Was it a desire to own something different?

We all have our reasons for what we collect. Some people probably favor unusual-looking cars as a way of engaging others on social media or while they’re out driving around. I get that. It’s nice seeing people smile, nod, and wave as you roll by. Kelly Smith, Hagerty’s chief digital officer, is a longtime collector of unusually colored Porsche 911s—Jade Green, Viper Green, Mexico Blue, and the latest, Violet Blue Metallic. He calls it his Skittles collection. He’s passionate about their uniqueness, and there are many experts who will say his passion will be reflected in a premium valuation if he were to sell any of them. I have another friend who only buys cars made in 1967—the year he was born. Then there’s my friend who only collects Chevrolet Z-code cars. To each their own.

For my part, I’m more of an automotive omnivore. I like cars from many eras and for many reasons. I like cars that were engineered to solve particular problems (e.g., transportation for the masses, affordable performance, or off-road capability). I like rare, luxury cars that are astounding just by their very existence. From a brand-focused standpoint, my own love of Porsches was largely influenced by my dad helping my sister to restore a 1960 Porsche 356B Roadster when I was young. A few years later, he and I restored my dilapidated 1967 911S in the garage. One of my fondest memories is from the day we got the engine to fire for the first time. I choke up thinking about it. The best car stories for many of us are the ones connected to specific people from our lives.

I plan to be out making some new memories with the Speedster when the weather breaks. If you see me out there, give me a wave and a nod. I shouldn’t be hard to spot, after all.

Onward and upward