“At first, I looked around but couldn’t find the car I was dreaming about. So, I decided to build it myself.” We all know this famous sentence by Ferry Porsche, son of the founder Ferdinand Porsche Sr., and creator of Porsche’s first production automobile, the 356.
Over the last decades the Porsche 356 become an icon in the classic car segment and a must-have for every car collector. But there is, at least for some of you, confusion when it comes to the variants of the German classic car. The Porsche 356 was produced in several model generations from 1948 to 1963 with a total output of 76,302 vehicles. All variants had a 4-cylinder rear engine and rear wheel drive.
1948-1955: 356 (original model)
The original 356, also called the “Urmodell” is the first sports car developed and produced by Porsche which was sold under the brand’s own name. Already at the beginning of production, the car could be purchased as a coupé or convertible and with four different engine types. The Porsche 356 Urmodell can be recognized by the two-piece windscreen made of toughened safety glass with a central bridge (from model year 1952 onwards, the windscreen was made of one piece with a bend in the middle known as “V-shaped glass”). The car had a continuous bench seat for the driver and front passenger as standard and single seats were only available on request. The initial selling price was 10,000 DM.
1955–1959: 356 A-Series
The second model of the 356 (from autumn 1955) is called A-series and was produced throughout the entire production period in three body variants (Coupé, Cabrio, Speedster/Convertible D) with five engine types. New features introduced in this model included the now one-piece curved windshield and door glass made of toughened safety glass. In addition, the 356 A was available as a hardtop convertible from 1958 (i.e. convertible body with a fixed, removable hardtop).
1959–1963: 356 B-Series
The Porsche 356 was extensively reworked in this model to make the car look more modern and elegant. The headlights and bumpers were raised which made the car look friendlier. The steering wheel was given a recessed hub, movable windows improved the supply of fresh air and the rear window was kept free of fogging by a heating nozzle.
1963–1965: 356 C-Series
The 356 C largely corresponds to its predecessor. However, it differs externally due to its perforated disc wheels with new hubcaps (without Porsche emblems) and disc brakes on all four wheels. Production of the Porsche 911 started at the same time as the 356 C and 356 SC. In 1965 the Porsche 912 (4-cylinder engine, 90 hp) replaced the 356 as the “entry-level model” of the German brand. And since then, the car became an icon for car collectors.
We thank our friend Stephan Bauer (IG @stephan_bauer) – one of the best photographers for classic and super cars – for the stunning pictures of this 356 Speedster. The Speedster was added to the range in 1954 and was initially intended to be a low-priced entry model for the US market by Max Hoffmann, a US importer. It was an open sports car with a flat windscreen and a fully retractable lower soft top than the convertible. The doors did not have crank windows, but rather plug windows. Bucket seats contributed to the sporty style of the model which was supplied with either the 1500 or 1500-S engine.
The forerunner of the Speedster was the American Roadster in 1952. It was built to suit the US market in a limited edition where only 15 units were produced (one of these vehicles remained in Germany), which makes the 15 cars the superstar amongst the 356 vehicles.
Initially sold for around 10,000 DM; the current market for extremely well-maintained models hits 200,000 USD and above.
When to drive:
A Porsche 356 Speedster, as shown on picture, is perfectly suited for a sunny hillside road in California. It’s where you can best enjoy the sunset and nostalgia of the car.
What we love about the car:
The 356 is the first car under Porsche’s own company brand name and, ever since, the whole brand has become a success story. The shape and the line of the 356 are unique within the automotive world and, thus, has every right to be called an icon.
Photography: Stephan Bauer IG: @stephan_bauer
*The car on the pictures is not the one we offer for sale.