"I couldn't find the sports car of my dreams, so I built it myself"

- Ferdinand Porsche

Porsche 356 Facts

Porsche 356
Manufacturer Porsche
Production 1948-1965
Predecessor 356/1
Successor Porsche 911/912
Class Sports car
Body style(s) 2-door Coupe
2-door Convertible
Layout RR layout
Engine(s) 1.1 L B4, 40 PS
1.3 L B4, 44-60 PS
1.5 L B4, 55-70 PS
1.5 L DOHC-B4, 100-110 PS
1.6 L B4, 60-95 PS
1.6 L DOHC-B4, 105-115 PS
2.0 L DOHC-B4, 130 PS
Wheelbase 82.7 in (2,100 mm)
Length 152.4–157.9 in (3,870–4,010 mm)
Width 65.4 in (1,660 mm)
Height 48.0–51.8 in (1,220–1,320 mm)
Curb weight 1,700–2,296 lb (770–1,041 kg)
Designer Erwin Komenda

 

The first production model to come out of Porsche was the 356. A lightweight, rear engine, 2 wheel drive sports car available in both a coupe and convertible. The first 50 cars were produced in Gmünd, Austria starting in 1948. The factory relocated to Zuffenhausen, Germany in 1950 were general production continued until April of 1965.

 

 

 

History

Although Porsche designed and built three Type 64 cars in 1939 (for the cancelled Berlin to Rome race) as well as the 356/1 prototype in 1948, the 356 is considered the first production model.[1][2]

     
 
Porsche No. 1 Type 356 (mid-engine prototype)
 
Porsche 356 Pre-A 1948 Coupe Porsche-Museum
 

Created by Ferdinand "Ferry" Porsche, son of founder Ferdinand Porsche, the 356 was a 4-cylinder, air-cooled, rear engine, rear wheel drive car with a unitized pan and body construction. The body's original design was created by Porsche employee Erwin Komenda while all of the mechanicals were derived from designs made by Ferdinand Porsche from his work on the Volkswagen Beetle. This allowed the use of many Volkswagen parts for manufacturing economy. Porsche re-engineered the car with its sights on performance. Fewer and fewer Volkswagen parts were being used by the late 50's. Although the bodies produced in Gmünd, Austria were handcrafted in aluminum, the production turned to steel once moved to the Zuffenhausen, Germany facility in 1950. Though barely noticed at its inception, the 356 soon became admired on both sides of the Atlantic. Many owners drove their cars both on the street and on the race track. By the end of production Porsche had produced nearly 76,000 model 356's [1] and orders rose to over 10,000 in 1964.

Variants

Porsche 356 Speedster

The 356 basic design remained the same throughout its production, with innovative, functional improvements instead of yearly styling changes that served no functional purpose. From 1948 through its and of production in 1965, a variety of coupe and convertible models were produced.

Porsche 356 production[3]
Type Quantity

356 (1948-55) 7,627
356A (1955-59) 21,045
356B (1959-63) 30,963
356C (1963-65/66) 16,678

Total 76,313

From the start of production the iconic cabriolets were offered. Production of the cabriolets reached more than 50% during the early 50's. The "Speedster" model is one of the most sought after models to collectors. The "Speedster" was brain child of the sole US importer Max Hoffman. He advised Porsche that the US market would welcome a low cost convertible. The "Speedster" was unique to other 356 models with its low raked removable windshield. It also had bucket seats and a very minimal folding top. Production for the Speedster climbed to 1,171 cars in 1957 before it started to decline. The Speedster was replaced by the "Convertible D" in 1958. The D model was fitted with a taller, more usable windscreen and glass side windows. It also sported more comfortable seats. In 1959 the D model was replaced with the 356B "Roadster" as the convertible model. To distinguish between all of the revisions a few major groups are used to classify the cars. Cars built between 1948 to 1954 are considered 356's. In 1955 many changes were made and the 356A was introduced. The internal designation for this vehicle was "Type 1" and thus got the nickname the "T1". By 1957 the second revision of the 356A produced what was known as the "Type 2" (or T2 respectively). By 1959 the car design incorporated significant styling and technical changes. This new variant was called the 356B (considered a T5 body type).

Porsche 356 1800 Super coupe

The 356B was changed to the T6 body type in 1962 and sported twin deck lid grills, larger windows, and a fuel filler in the right front fender. The "Notch back" or "Karmenn Hardtop" 356 was produced for the 1961 and 1962 model years. The 1961 models were all cabriolet body's that were modified with a steel roof (welded in place) for the coupe models. T6 production began in 1962 and was quite different from the 1961 production. The coupe body was designed and run through production as such and was not simply a modified cabriolet body. It used the design of the cabriolet for the rear and the coupe for the front. By the the 1961 and 1962 model years are considered "Karmenn Notch back".[4]

The final revision of the 356 was the 356C. Introduced for the 1964 model year, it was fitted with disc breaks and had an optional 95 hp (71 kW)"SC" push rod engine. In 1964, 356 production rose to 14,151 cars. That same year the 356's successor (the 911) was introduced in the US (though it was released slightly earlier in Europe). The 356C was sold in North America through 1965 as demand was still strong in the early days of the 911. The Dutch police force received the last 10 356's (all cabriolets) in 1966 as 1965 models.[5]

The 4-cylinder push rod engine from the 356 was later used in the 1965 912. This entry level Porsche was in production from 1965 to 1969 due to customer complaints regarding the new 911's price tag (nearly double the cost of the 356 it replaced). This model was an afterthought to fill a void left in the market.

Legacy

The 356C was ranked 10th place for top 1960's sports cars by Sports Cars International in 2004. The 356 is a highly sought after car by collectors and enthusiasts alike. Among the most collectable are the speedster, super 90, and the 4 cam racing engine fitted Carreras. Very few Carreras were ever built and bring upwards of $250K US at auction. The uber rare (about 140 produced) Carrera Speedster will fetch $300K. It is also estimated that nearly half of the 356's produced by Porsche still survive today.

According to German Magazine Autozeitung , a new generation of Porsche 356 will be produced in 2013.[6]

 

Motorsport

From the 24 hours of Le Mans, to the 1000 km Buenos Aires, the 356 has had much success in motor sports. Its motorsport success can be contributed to its design innovations over its years of manufacture.

A few notable examples of specially modified cars include the 356 SL and the 356A Carrera GT. These cars were stripped down to reduce weight and modifications were made to enhance performance in handling for the race track.

Porsche also collaborated with Abarth to build the 356B Carrera GTL Abarth coupé, of which had some success in motorsports.

 

Race-prepared

1959 356A

Porsche 356B

Carrera GTL-Abarth

 

Porsche 356B

1600 GS-GT (Dreikantschaber)

Günter Klass/Sepp Greger,Nürburgring '64

Gallery

Porsche 356 Speedster AU VIC PARRIS.jpg
1958-Porsche-Convertible-D.jpg
Porsche-1957-Speedster.jpg
1960-Porsche-Roadster.jpg
1964Porsche-Coupe.jpg

 

 

References

  1. a b c 356 Registry. "356 Timeline". Retrieved 2006-11-08.
  2. ^ "Porsche History - Milestones". Retrieved 2006-11-08.
  3. ^ Long, Brian (2008). Porsche 356. Dorchester: Veloce Publishing. pp. 188. ISBN 978-1-84584-035-8.
  4. ^ 356 Registry. "356 Registry's spotter's guide". Retrieved 2007-12-09.
  5. ^ Long, Brian (2008). Porsche 356. Dorchester: Veloce Publishing. pp. 162. ISBN 978-1-84584-035-8.
  6. ^ "Porsche 356 Speedster planning a big comeback". 4wheelsnews.com. 2009-03-24. Retrieved 2009-08-07.

 

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