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Porsche 356

Porsche 356 Published: 7th Aug 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Porsche 356
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First ever Porsche - Unique driving experience - Sky high values - Good spares availability

The 356 is a great slice of motoring history that no true Porsche fan should overlook – if they can afford it that is as values have rocketed to E-type levels and show no signs of abating. With their obvious Beetle heritage, it’s a Porsche you either love or hate – because it’s quite unlike anything that came after it.

Driving

Why a 356 instead of a 911? Good question, especially when you consider that a half-decent 911, or a good 912, can cost less than a not-too-good 356!

If pace, handling, and a desire to be seen by your not so automotive conscious friends in a ‘modern’ sports car classic is what you want, then a 356 is not for you…

A properly prepared 356 can be a joy to drive, with light and precise handling that means B-road progress can be rapid if you’re the committed type. “The driver should not hold the steering wheel too tight, a well set up 356 should be relaxing to drive” one 356 expert told us. Obviously, a 75bhp 1600S, or 95bhp 1600SC, isn’t going to be the quickest thing on the roads but speed isn’t everything – even with a Porsche!

Best models

The first cars were Austrian built but apart from novelty it’s the post ’54 German-made cars that are the ones to go for, not least due having more power and continued development – much like 911s. The 356A, was the first to feature a one piece windscreen, 15in wheels and wider tracks to improve handling. In 1957, the original body, known as T1, was replaced by T2 with different doors and revised trim. Engine options grew with the addition of a 1582cc unit giving either 60bhp or 75bhp in 1600S form. The 1500 GS was a limited production motorsport version, with four overhead camshafts instead of pushrods, roller bearings, and a mighty 100bhp…

The evolution continued with the introduction of the ‘B’ in 1959 – by which point only the rear trailing arms, half shafts, crown wheel, pinion and differential housing came from the VW parts bin (recognisable by its raised headlights, and front and rear bumper). The T6, ’62, is identified by a larger rear window. The 356C sporting four wheel ATE disc brakes, and engine availability was standardised with a 1600C (75bhp) and 1600SC (95bhp) on general production coupés and cabrios.

Values

They make 911s sound cheap! Even though around half the 76,000 made survive, projects sell for almost £30,000 and runners around 50 grand (add a third on average for convertibles and/or RHD cars). Prize Porkers can cost up to £170,000 with the Speedster at least a quarter of a million (there’s some good replicas, mind) and the four cam Carrera not far short of Aston DB6 money.

Buying advice

The dangers of 356 purchase lie within the bodywork and you need to look everywhere – or better still, have a 356 specialist do it because they know where to precisely look. Like all Porsches until the mid-80s, the factory carried out a lot of rectification of blemishes in body panels on the production line, and so any car is likely to have a lot of lead filler in its make-up and is normal. The good news is that, almost all panels are readily available.

There’s three identification points; under the spare wheel, by the fuel tank and passenger’s body pillar plus you can look up the body colour code with the help of the 356 Register (Porsche Club GB) bit.ly/356coloursregistry.

The engine itself is good and tough but – like body panels – parts (and major repairs) can be expensive, because although there’s a hint of VW about the original design, not one major component is the same as a Beetle. The suspension needs careful checking for wear around the front king pins and rear arm bushes, and shock absorbers will, inevitably, need renewing on any car that hasn’t had a complete overhaul.

The steering box (originally VW and then a Porsche-designed ZF unit) is adjustable. Drum brakes (alloy with cast iron linings) on A and B models can suffer from excess heat build-up, and either go misshapen or crack so check them if the brakes feel odd on a drive.

 



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