This is one of many illustrated classic Porsche guides I've created for the community. I hope you enjoy it. If you wish to find out more about the classic Porsche 356 car art featured in this guide please click here.
For Porsche purists, the Porsche 356 is the classic model from this distinguished marque and the progenitor of a remarkable bloodline that survives to the present day in the form of the Porsche 911. Through four distinct model phases - "Pre-A", A, B and C, the 356 evolved in a smooth progression, with numerous specification improvements that improved the car without changing its personality. The shape received subtle refinements, while engine power rose from the earliest 1100 version's 40bhp to the 130bhp of the Carrera 2s 2-litre four-cam unit. Always produced in coupe and cabriolet the glamorous Speedster and high-performance Carrera were desirable variations on a theme.
356 "Number One" (1950-1965)
This was the very first Porsche sports car, chassis number 356-001. Produced in temporary premises in Gmund, Austria, in what was once a sawmill, it had a tubular frame chassis, a smooth, slippery open-top body and a 1,131cc Volkswagen Beetle engine, which was mounted amidships with the gearbox slung out to the tail. Completed by June 1948 and given the registration number K 45286, it was presented to the motoring press at the Swiss Grand Prix.
356 Gmund Coupe (1950-1965)
Following the VW-based roadster, which became 356 Number One, Porsche finally became an actual car builder turning out an initial 49 aluminium-bodied 356s between mid-1948 and March 1951. The first batch of light-alloy bodied 356 models (23 cabriolets and 23 "limousines") were produced at Gmund, Austria and were made almost entirely by hand. Fitted with an air-cooled, rear-mounted, 1,086cc, twin-carburettor engine developing just 40bhp, 80mph was easily attainable due to the lightweight construction.
356 America Roadster (1950-1965)
One of the rarest and most mysterious of all Porsches was the America Roadster (Type 540). Hand-built by Heuer in 1952 and intended primarily for the American market, these open-top cars had distinctive "hump-back" styling and, devoid of any superfluous trim and equipment, were intended for competition purposes. Sadly, Heuer closed its doors in late 1952 and Roadster production was halted after just 16 cars had been produced.
356A Speedster (1950-1965)
Making its public debut in 1954, the Speedster was basically a stripped, low-cost 356, its humpy body was a cross between the America and the Cabriolet. Fitted with a skimpy hood, barchetta-style windscreen and sidescreens, in place of "wind-up windows to save weight, it became especially popular in California both on and off the track.
Following the 7627 356s built between 1949 and 1955 (Pre-A models) the main changes on the second version the 356A, the model which really established the marque, were softer suspension, a steering damper, a new dashboard and smaller wheels. A hardop Coupe version was added to the range. The 1290cc models (1300 and 44bhp, dropped in 1957; 1300 Super with 60bhp) tended to stay in Germany. The bread and butter models were 1600 (60bhp) and 1600 Super (75bhp) with a speedster for competition work.
356C Carrera 2 (1963-1977)
The 356B gave way to the 356C in 1963. There were few changes at casual glance, but in reality there were several upgrades including disc brakes all round plus improved ZF steering. Model names were changed too: the Super became the 1600C, the Super 75, the 1600S and the Super 90 the 1600SC, with and extra 5bhp.