How Driving An Incredibly Rare And Valuable Porsche 356 America Roadster Made Me Realize My Bald Spot Is Fucking Weird Looking

All images here are from Marc Urbano
All images here are from Marc Urbano
Photo: Marc Urbano

I’m assuming a bunch of Porsche PR people realized they had some end-of-year money lying around that needed to be burned through, because that can be the only explanation for this wonderful event they held, one without a focus on any current product or anything crassly commercial like that. It was just a whole bunch of Porsches from over seven decades, and a track to drive them on. That’s how I was able to drive a stunning and wildly rare old Porsche 356 variant, and also how I realized how fucking weird my bald spot looks.

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I’ll be covering this event in much more detail with a video (that involves an actual Porsche 901 and a freaking 959) that should be ready, um soon, I hope, but for now, I just want to discuss this glorious 1953 Porsche 356 America Roadster and my weird-ass bald spot.

Illustration for article titled How Driving An Incredibly Rare And Valuable Porsche 356 America Roadster Made Me Realize My Bald Spot Is Fucking Weird Looking
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The car is truly wonderful—if you’re not familiar with the 356 America Roadster, here’s the important stuff: it came before the Speedster, and was just for the American market. It was lightened even from the already featherweight normal 356, weighing only just over 1,300 pounds, and that weight saving was evident in the car’s amenities, of which there were none.

It had a very cut-down windshield that mostly kept bugs off your knuckles, no side windows or actual top (there were pop-in side curtains and an emergency-use-only rain top), no wipers or inside padding or anything unnecessary.

The 1.5-liter air-cooled flat-four made a respectable 70 horsepower, which, in a stripped-out little bathtub like this, feels plenty fast.

Illustration for article titled How Driving An Incredibly Rare And Valuable Porsche 356 America Roadster Made Me Realize My Bald Spot Is Fucking Weird Looking
Screenshot: JF Musial
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On the rain-slicked track at Sears Point—sorry, Sonoma Raceway—it was a blast, even if I did overcook it just a hair into the first turn and spun out. Luckily, I didn’t hit anything and was able to recover just fine, but afterward I learned that the car I was driving was one of 14 or so survivors, and Porsche valued it around three to four million dollars.

My anus hasn’t unclenched since I heard that.

Driving this distilled-down 356 is a real treat, regardless. These things aren’t quick by modern standards—which is good, because if they were, you’d likely die mid-delighted giggle—but they have a raw, lean, mechanical driving quality you just can’t really find in modern cars.

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Illustration for article titled How Driving An Incredibly Rare And Valuable Porsche 356 America Roadster Made Me Realize My Bald Spot Is Fucking Weird Looking

Decades of Beetle driving made the 356 America feel oddly familiar, since it is still very clearly a mutated Beetle, as you can tell by peeking at the engine, which, while significantly uprated from a VW mill (twin carbs, a real oil filtration system, hotter cam, etc.) still has a few VW parts, like this nifty magic doohickey that makes fuel turn 90 degrees:

Except this picture, I took this one
Except this picture, I took this one
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Even though the basic DNA is shared, the driving experience is way more fun than a normal Beetle, by virtue of the extra power, the minimal weight, and the fact you’re basically driving around a pair of motorized pants.

That’s the quick rundown of the car; now, let’s get to the real meat of everything, my weird-ass bald spot.

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Illustration for article titled How Driving An Incredibly Rare And Valuable Porsche 356 America Roadster Made Me Realize My Bald Spot Is Fucking Weird Looking

I don’t normally get to see my bald spot, as I’ve located my eyes at the front side of my head, partially to aid in driving. On most videos, I tend to be facing the camera, and in still photos, I’m almost exclusively looking forward. As a result, I know my bald spot has the approximate size and location of a yarmulke, but I’m really not that familiar with how it looks.

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That’s where the Porsche comes in.

See, Porsche had real photographers on hand to record video and take pics, and they were nice enough to snap some lovely pics of me in the car, driving in the rain down a windy vineyard road. The pics are fantastic, and I love them.

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The ones from the rear, though, revealed this awful truth:

Illustration for article titled How Driving An Incredibly Rare And Valuable Porsche 356 America Roadster Made Me Realize My Bald Spot Is Fucking Weird Looking
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My bald spot is almost a perfect square.

Well, in these pics, it sort of looks like a bold capital “M,” thanks to that little stubborn dagger of hair at the top, but overall, it has an unmistakably square shape.

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Illustration for article titled How Driving An Incredibly Rare And Valuable Porsche 356 America Roadster Made Me Realize My Bald Spot Is Fucking Weird Looking

I mean, hell, look at this: it has corners.

If only I could have retained a bit more of that central spit of hair, I could have divided that square into twin rectangles, like an army captain’s badge, and that would have perfectly mirrored the twin air-intake vents on the 356's engine lid. That would have been cool. But, sadly, I couldn’t manage that.

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How can this be? Am I not biological? How many organic things grow in perfect squares? Is my scalp some kind of gridded setup, with square panels of hair, because maybe I’m some kind of robot or cyborg or something?

I mean, that would kind of explain a lot, really.

Damn, look at that thing. I thought the funniest part of looking at the rear of this car would be how hilariously inadequate those taillights are, but, no, the funny bit is that insane block of scalp smack dab on the middle back of my head.

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Illustration for article titled How Driving An Incredibly Rare And Valuable Porsche 356 America Roadster Made Me Realize My Bald Spot Is Fucking Weird Looking

I know my hair has proved a disturbing and triggering element for our readers and viewers before, so I guess I may as well pour more gas on that fire. The things that grow on my head do so in strange ways, and that’s just something I need to accept.

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Fantastic car, though.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!: https://rb.gy/udnqhh)

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Are you sure that David Tracy didn’t shave it off while you two were camping?

It’s remarkable how square it is...