Graciously provided by Steingrim Saug (

As the Porsche design team worked on a Cisitalia grand prix car, Ferdinand was thinking how he could make something like the Italian car with pieces from Volkswagen, who was the only kind of pieces and parts that he could get in Gemany and Austria after the war. He did manage to build a sport car. The frame was made from a network of tubes. A Volkswagen engine was fitted in the rear, with its gearbox in front of the axle to give the car a better balacne. It was a 1131 cc flat-four-air-cooled engine who was boosted from 25 bhp to 40 bhp. The torsion-bar rear suspension also had to be turned around which gave the car the characteristic oversteering. The design project number 356 stated in June 1947 and the first Type 356 car (356-001) ran in chassis form in March 1948. Erwin Kommenda designed the body. This basic layout held for 27 years. The first prototype was sold in July 1948 to von Senger, a Swiss dealer, for 7000 francs to help finance of more parts. It was brought back in 1958 and can be seen at the Porsche museum.

At the same time, the designers were working on a simular model, the Type 356/2 (356-002). Its engine and rear suspension were the right way, it had a platform chassis, but still they used the Volkswagen mechanical layout. Von Senger and an associate Bernhard Blank, ordered 50 cars. They also arranged supplies of components and metal. The mechanical specifications varied, but the engine was about 1100 cc and top speed about 141 km/h (88 mph).The 356/2 became "the 356".

Porsche moved to Stuttgart in 1950. They rented from Reutter coachworks (who should make 500 bodies) in Zuffenhausen because the United States Forces used the firm's old works. The first car was finised in May 1950, 500 was produced in March 1951 and 1000 in September 1951. They had 1100 cc and 1300 cc engines. Porsche sold cars in several countries : Sweden, USA, France etc. They made several changes in 1951-52 : 1500 cc engine, one piece windscreen, ventilated steel disc wheels, stronger dumpers and they modernized the instruments. They designed a roadster for the American marked with a body of aluminium. It sold well in America from April 1952. Fewer cars were ordered with 1100 or 1300 cc engines, so the 1500 engine was offered in two stages of tune : standard and 1500 Super. Because of this bigger engine, Porsche designed a new synchronized gearbox. Larger brakes were also fitted.

In September 1955 Porsche started produce the 356A. It had a new crankcase so the engine capacity increased to 1600 cc, the maximum class capacity in Touring and Grand Touring car races. The 356 could be specified with four different engines, plus the new 1500GS Carrera, named after the marque's successes in the Carrera Panamericana road races. Many detail changes were made to the engine room, gearbox, suspension and the steering. It had a curved windscreen and lower floor. In 1956 the Porsche company could return to its old home. The same year were Porsche number 10000 made. As production increased, fewer changes were made. In 1957 the 1300 cc engine were dropped and a de luxe version of Carrera were offered.

In 1954 the Speedster was introduced to the American marked. Of different reasons the Speedster was replaced by Speedster D, a more luxurios and expensive car. The body was made by Drauz because of the constant pressure on Reutter. The Speedster D was renamed to the D-type Convertible because of protest of the Carlifornian people. They wanted the old Speedster.

In 1959 was the 356B introduced. It had higher headlamps, stronger dumpers, higher front and gear, weighed more, enlarged interior and a new engine, Super 90. The D-type Convertible was renamed the Roadster in deference to the Carlifornians. The 356B Carrera, also knowned as Carrera 2, had its engine capacity increased to 1966 cc. Large numbers were produced to qualify if for GT racing.

The final version if 356 came in 1963, the 356C. It had disc brakes and cast-iron cylinders. Some improvrments were made to the suspension. The older engines : 1600, 1600S and Super 90 were replaced by the newer 1600C. 1600SC were replaced by 2000GS.

In 1965 the type 356 ran out its production life. A new Porsche was coming: the 911.

Technical information :

Type 356 1950-1955

Number  : 7627
Body    : coupé, cabriolet, speedster

Year        Engine  cc      bph

1950-54     1100    1086    40
1951-54     1300    1286    44
1954-55     1300A   1290    44
1953-55     1300S   1290    60
1952-55     1500    1488    55
1951-52     1500    1488    60
1952-55     1500S   1488    70

Type 356A 1955-1959

Number  : 20345
Body    : coupé, hardtop/cabriolet, cabriolet, speedster

Year        Engine  cc      bhp

1955-57     1300    1290    44
1955-57     1300S   1290    60
1955-59     1600    1582    60
1955-59     1600S   1582    75

Type 356A Carrera 1955-1959

Number  : 700
Body    : coupé, hardtop/cabriolet, cabriolet, speedster

Year        Engine                  cc      bhp

1955-58     1500GS Carrera/de luxe  1498    100
1957-58     1500GS Carrera GT       1498    110
1958-59     1600GS Carrera de luxe  1588    105
1959        1600GS Carrera GT       1588    115

Type 356B 1959-1963

Number  : 30963
Body    : coupé, hardtop coupé, hardtop/cabriolet, cabriolet, roadster

Year        Engine      cc      bhp

1959-63     1600        1582    60
1959-63     1600S 75    1582    75
1960-63     1600S 90    1582    90

Type 356B Carrera 1960-1965

Number  : 375
Body    : coupé

Year        Engine                  cc      bhp

1960-61     1600GS Carrera GT       1588    115
1960        1600GS Carrera GTL      1588    115/128/135
1961-63     2000GS Carrera 2        1966    130

Type 356C 1963-1965

Number  : 16668
Body    : coupé, cabriolet, hardtop/cabriolet

Year        Engine      cc      bhp

1963-65     1600C       1582    75
1963-65     1600SC      1582    95

Type 356C Carrera 2 1963-1964

Number  : 126
Body    : coupé

Year        Engine              cc      bhp

1963-64     2000GS Carrera 2    1966    130

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Michael Sherman

Last updated March 12, 1996