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Porsche 356

Porsche 356 Published: 10th Aug 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Porsche 356
Porsche 356
Porsche 356
Porsche 356
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This landmark legend was the first car built in a factory bearing the name of the legendary Professor Ferdinand Porsche but strongly based upon his VW Beetle design. As sales built up, the car evolved, shedding its VW identity along the way. In all, 76,302 examples of the 356 would be built before production ceased in 1965, to make way for the iconic Porsche 911 although the 356 holds a special place with a select brand of Porsche die-hards.


Not quick by modern standards but even so, a well sorted 356 can be a joy to drive although you need to be at your best and on your toes – it’s a high-powered Beetle when all is said and done. The secret of good handling with this car is a correct suspension set-up and a well sorted 356 should be entertaining yet predictable to drive. Obviously, a 75bhp 1600S, or 95bhp 1600SC, are going to be the quickest but Porsche specialists can easily improve power outputs to around 110bhp.

Why a 356 instead of a 911? Good question, especially when you consider that a half-decent 911, or a good 912, can cost considerably less. However, if you hanker after driving an icon that, for the late 1950s, was way ahead of its time and you delight in being different, then the 356 could be the Porsche for you.


Even the ropiest project commands £50K plus and top models nudging the half million barrier (Carrera) – and you can add sizeable premiums for convertibles and RHD models so many are dearer to buy than the majority of 911s. You’re looking at least £100,000 for a good usable pre ’55 model. Later A/B/C spec cars vary in values, earlier cars being the dearer. Soft tops are worth 50 per cent more as are UK spec models.


1949 Launched, a year after Porsche gained a road permit, the first 49 cars were Austrian built with a 1-litre engine and used alloy body panels

1950 Production moves to Stuttgart and steel bodies are then employed, all coupés

1951 500th model, 1.3-litre unit, telescopic rear damping, better brakes, all synchro ’box

1952 One piece windscreen, first, RHD cars, 1,5-litre (60bhp) engine

1953 1.5 Super (72bhp) with Porsche’s own transmission; 1300 Super for ’54 cars

1955 356A 1.3-1.6 (44-75bhp), 100bhp for Carrera,with improved chassis

1957 T2; different doors, trim

1959 356B (T5) 1.6 pushrod units. Four body variations all with higher line wings and lamp designs plus a revised interior (facelifed T6 for ’62, some disc braked ‘63)

1964 356C (coupé or cabrio) SC new 95bhp tune, all disc brakes, better seats and trim

Best models

Carrera & GS

The jewel in the crown and the ultimate road racer of its era care of special four cam engine; commands enormous respect – and values


Super means more power and a good all rounder for enthusiasts with up to 90bhp depending upon engine; some used special rear spring compensator


Choice of the normal cabrio or racer-like Speedster; the former is the most popular and some came with power hood and hardtop

Top buying tips



Check originality first as a lot of plain Beetle parts can fi t and while okay it isn’t what you want to find. Restos are hugely costly with shells alone swallowing over £30k to put right



A killer as in many places body panels wrapped over each other, leaving gaps where water and mud gathered. Wheel arch edges, the area where the front wings meet the scuttle forward of the door openings and the leading edges of the doors most prone. Any car is likely to have a lot of lead filler in its make-up and is normal



All early engines leak oil (so don’t fret unless its flooding over the floor) and smoke on start-up usually means valve guide wear. The engine itself is good and tough but – like body panels – parts can be expensive, because while there’s a hint of VW about the design, not one major component is the same as a Beetle’d engine

Running gear

Steering box (originally VW, then specific Porsche designed ZF unit) is adjustable to take up slack. Brake (drums) deteriorate if seldom used, Beetlederived suspension is fitted, gearbox synchro and linkage known to fail


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