The Porsche 356 was the company’s first production sports car and was manufactured between 1948 and 1965. In total, 76,000 of these cars were produced.
In 2005, a 1959 Porsche 356 Carrera GT Speedster was sold for $260,000 by RM Auctions.
The next year, the auction house offered a 1953 Porsche 356 America Roadster, which realised $700,000.
In 2010, Gooding & Co. auctioned a 1962 Porsche 356 Carrera 2 Coupe - it was bought for $203,500.
The body of the 356 was designed by Erwin Komenda. It was based on ideas from Dr. Ferdinand Porsche and was executed by his son, Ferry Porsche. The car was completed in Austria in 1948 and was ultimately replaced with the 911. The shape of the 356 led to its nickname the ‘bathtub’ Porsche.
At its time of release the 356 received little acclaim and it is believed that many people saw it as a ‘posh’ Volkswagen Beetle, with whom the car shared many parts. However, the 1950s saw Porsche building a reputation for itsself and relying less on Volkswagen for its parts.
Though the basic design of the 365 remained much the same, a variety of models, both coupe and convertible, were produced between 1948 and 1965.
1955 saw the introduction of the 356 Carrera, which was manufactured until 1962. It had a top speed of 125mph, 38mph faster than the 356. The 356 Carrera featured four gear-driven camshafts, dry-sump lubrication, twin sparkplugs and even roller-bearing crankshafts on earlier models. Although extremely collectible, the 356 Carrera was built with competition in mind, thereby making it a notoriously bad road car as it produced most of its power high up in the rev range.
356 B and C
Manufactured between 1955 and 1965, the 356B added some styling revisions including a higher nose at the front and larger bumpers. A pair of twin-choke carbs were added to boost performance.
The 356C added disc brakes and the lowest powered engine was 75bhp, up from the 60bhp of the 356B.
Max Hoffman, the only importer of Porsche cars into the US, said he needed a version of the 356 which was less expensive but racier, in order to suit the American market’s need. To suit this, the 345 Speedster was introduced in 1956, which became very popular for many reasons including its low, raked windscreen (which could be easily removed for racing), bucket seats and minimal folding top.
Films featuring the Porsche 356
- Highlander (1986) – Porsche 356A Speedster
- A Time to Kill (1996) – Porsche 356A Speedster (replica)
- Breathless (1983) – Porsche 356B
- Wimbledon (2004) – Porsche 356A Speedster (replica)
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