The 356 was a lightweight and nimble-handling rear-engine rear-wheel-drive 2-door sports car available in hardtop coupe and open configurations. Engineering innovations continued during the years of manufacture, contributing to its motorsports success and popularity. Production started in 1948 at Gmünd, Austria, where approximately 50 cars were built.
In 1950 the factory relocated to Zuffenhausen, Germany, and general production of the 356 continued until April 1965, well after the replacement model 911 made its autumn 1963 debut. Of the 76,000 originally produced, approximately half survive. Ferry Porsche described the thinking behind the development of the 356 in an interview with the editor of Panorama, the PCA magazine, in September 1972."
I had always driven very speedy cars. I had an Alfa Romeo, also a BMW and others. ….By the end of the war I had a Volkswagen Cabriolet with a supercharged engine and that was the basic idea. I saw that if you had enough power in a small car it is nicer to drive than if you have a big car which is also overpowered. And it is more fun. On this basic idea we started the first Porsche prototype. To make the car lighter, to have an engine with more horsepower…that was the first two seater that we built in Carinthia (Gmünd)".
I have been an avid fan of the 356 since I first had a drive in one in 1962 when I was a student in Switzerland. A lucky fellow student whose father owned a big shoe company in Germany was given a brand new 1962 356B T6 Coupe in off white. I was immediately smitten with the quality and ride of this magnificent machine. Any British sports car from this era didn’t come close to the wonderful “one piece” ride that this solid little gem possessed. The steering was so direct and sensitive that you could just let the car follow the contours of the road and let the steering flow through your hands. The self centering characteristic of the chassis allowed the driver to steer it with very light soft hands allowing the car to follow its own straight ahead direction. A hitherto experience that I had never had in any other car, and to this day is still unique to the 356.
The famous motoring scribe Denis Jenkinson (who won the Miglia alongside Stirling Moss in 1955) an avid fan and owner of a 356, coined the phrase that the car “wischen” the road through the corners, translated means the car wiped the road as it drove around the bends!
I have always been a “driver” and this magical 356 is a real drivers car that puts the smile on your face. The air cooled 4 cylinder engine has that purposeful and unburstable feeling that makes you feel that the car will never run out of breath. Before I became a Porsche dealer I have owned at least 40 356 models privately, they helped pay for my students fees, at £150- £200 a time I could turn a £50 profit into paying my fees! I also got to learn my “hands off” technique when negotiating sharp turns in the wet, the castor action of the suspension would always do the job better than you could do keeping the car pointing the direction of travel!!
The 356A models have always been considered the best for several reasons. They are the prettiest with their lovely soft contours (before the US regs ruled that the lights had to be higher) their drive train is the softest and smoothest to operate, and the gearbox change is like a knife through butter. This example has the more powerful option of the Super 75 bhp motor (only a quarter of the 1959 production of 1382 units had one), in my view the best option you can choose. I have done hundreds of miles all around the world with one of these and the only minus point is that the front suspension needs regular greasing and adjusting (every 1500 miles) but an on board grease gun solves this!
Dr Porsche always said that he designed his cars for men to enjoy and women to drive, “power and elegance at your fingertips “ was the sales caption.
This car on offer is probably one of the most exceptional survivors from that era. Only 2 owners from new and the last owner bought the car in 1961!! It has covered only 55,000 miles with a wonderful straight rust free body that has only been repainted in its original silver. There is a Porsche enthusiast somewhere that is waiting to enjoy the special sensation that this little diamond will give you. I have owned 3 cabriolets long term and driven all round Europe with enormous pleasure. This time warp is a must for the serious enthusiast/investor. I have a friend who has had more special high end collectors cars than most people but the only car he has always kept is his 356 Porsche as he enjoys the driving experience more than any others.
- Other Stock -