1957 Porsche 356 Speedster

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What other car can this be but a Porsche? Every classic car enthusiast recognizes the origins of the Porsche brand and this car speaks volumes.The 356 actually began production in Gmünd, Austria where 50 cars were built. The factory was then relocated to Zuffenhausen, Germany, where production continued until it ceased in April, 1965.

The cars produced in Gmünd were made from handcrafted aluminum. Once production moved to Germany, steel was used. The early aluminum-bodied cars are commonly referred to as "prototypes."

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An interesting snippet in the history of Porsche is who manufactured the steel bodies. Porsche contracted with Reutter to build the bodies, eventually buying the company in 1963. Reutter kept making seats for Porsche, changing their name to Recaro.

What  some enthusiasts may not know is that Porsche kept the 356 in production for two years after its replacement, the 911, was introduced in 1963. Since the 356 proved to be such a resounding success among both sports car and racing enthusiasts, we can only guess it was probably difficult for Porsche to bring a great thing to an end. But they did and a classic collectable was born.

A Classic is Born Ferry Porsche knew what made the 356 special and treasured by Porsche fans. He spoke about it in the September, 1972, issue of Panorama, the PCA magazine.

“….I had always driven very speedy cars. I had an Alfa Romeo, also a BMW and others. ….By the end of the war I had a Volkswagen Cabriolet with a supercharged engine and that was the basic idea. I saw that if you had enough power in a small car it is nicer to drive than if you have a big car which is also overpowered. And it is more fun. On this basic idea we started the first Porsche prototype. To make the car lighter, to have an engine with more horsepower…that was the first two seater that we built in Carinthia (Gmünd)”.

Porsche 356 Production History There are three distinct model lines during production of the 356, known simply as the 356 A, 356 B and 356 C.

The 356 A began life in 1955, with the internal designation of "Type 1." A second version of the 356 A was introduced in early 1957 and was known as the "Type 2." The "Carrera" or four-cam engine became an option with the 356 A following its sole use in the spyder race cars.

Porsche 356 A OverviewProduction 1955–1959Engine

  • 1.3 L Type 506 B4 (1300)
  • 1.3 L Type 506/2 B4 (1300 S)
  • 1.5 L Type 547/1 B4 (Carrera 1500 GS/GT, 1955–1957)
  • 1.5 L Type 692/0 B4 (Carrera 1500 GT, 1958)
  • 1.5 L Type 692/1 B4 (Carrera 1500 GT, 1958)
  • 1.6 L Type 616/1 B4 (1600)
  • 1.6 L Type 616/2 B4 (1600 S)
  • 1.6 L Type 692/2 B4 (Carrera 1600 GS)

Transmission: Four-speed manual

Late 1959 saw the birth of the 356 B with notable styling changes and is known as the T5. In mid-1962 the 356 B became the T6 and is known for its twin grills on the engine lid, an external fuel cap on the right front fender and larger rear window.

Porsche 356 B OverviewProduction 1960–1963Engine

  • 1.6 L Type 616/1 B4 (1600)
  • 1.6 L Type 616/2 B4 (1600 S, 1960–1962)
  • 1.6 L Type 616/7 B4 (1600 Super 90)
  • 1.6 L Type 616/12 B4 (1600 S, 1962–1963)
  • 1.6 L Type 692/3 B4 (1600 Carrera GS GT, 1960)
  • 1.6 L Type 692/3A B4 (1600 Carrera GS GT, 1961)
  • 2.0 L Type 587/1 B4 (Carrera 2 GS)

Transmission: Four-speed manual

The 356 C was introduced in 1964 with the largest performance improvement being disc brakes at all four wheels. Porsche also offered a more powerful 95 hp SC engine. Even though the 911 was on sale, the 356 C was still in demand and sold in North America until 1965. Interestingly enough, the last ten 356s were produced for the Dutch police force in 1966 as 1965 models.

Porsche 356 C OverviewProduction 1964–1965Engine

  • 1.6 L Type 616/15 B4 (1600 C)
  • 1.6 L Type 616/16 B4 (1600 SC)
  • 1.6 L Type 616/26 B4 (1600 SC, police car)
  • 2.0 L Type 587/1 B4 (Carrera 2)
  • 2.0 L Type 587/2 B4 (Carrera 2)

Transmission: Four-speed manual

If you are a Porsche enthusiast and in the Minneapolis area, take advantage of what Vinty has to offer by checking out the 1957 Porsche 356 Speedster tribute car pictured above. Spring is here, isn't it?