48 years ago, in Gmünd, Austria,
the very first Porsche sports car was hand built. When it says "hand built,"
that's the truth, because the entire aluminum body was hand beaten over
a wooden buck. All the engine and drivetrain components were made without
a machine shop.
Porsche number 356/1
as it was called, was the only one with the engine mounted in front
of the rear axle. It was an open top 2 seater, made with a tubular space
frame. Every Porsche 356 made after this had the engine in the rear (behind
the axle). It was, of course, air-cooled.
Porsche number one had a 1.1 liter
engine, making 40 horsepower. It had a top speed of over 135kph (85mph).
In 1948, only 4 356s were made! In '49 and the early part of '50, less
than 60 more were produced. These very rare cars are known today as the
Coupes. During 1950, Porsche moved into a factory in Stuttgart, where
they continued to produce the tiny sports cars. By the end of 1950, 298
cars had been delivered to their owners.
In 1951, three engines were offered
from the factory. All of them were flat-4's, "boxers", that were air cooled.
Offered were the 1,100cc, the 1,300cc, and the 1,500cc. In late 1952, the
1500 Super was the top powerplant. Along with the Super came a synchromesh
transmission. Also in 1952, the America Roadster
was created. This car, of which only 16 were produced, was an aluminum
cabriolet body, with a removable windshield. This car obviously inspired
the 40th Anniversary 1992 911 America Roadster.
By 1953, Porsche needed to compete
more in the American market, and the Speedster was born! It was basically
a cabriolet, but with a shortened windshield, and the bare necessities
only. It's price in 1954--$2,995. What a bargain!
In 1954, along with the speedster came
6 different engines: 1100, 1300, 1300A, 1300S, 1500, and 1500S. Again,
the 1500Super was the top-of-the-line. The Coupe and Cabriolet wore the
"Continental" badge designation.
The 356A was introduced for 1956. Changes
included an all steel body, smaller wheels, and a curved windshield. At
this same time, the 356 Carrera was introduced (1500GS engine). In 1958/9,
another model, the "Convertible D", was available. It was an upgraded Speedster,
with a bigger windshield, roll-up windows, and other add-ons.
1959 brought in the 356B, with it's
new body and Super 90 engine. The 356B again changed body styles, for 1962
and 63, when the 356C entered production.
There was yet another model, though,
before the 356C. It was the Carrera 2, and became available in April 1962.
It's engine came form the same lines as previous Spyder engines, and produced
130 horses. There were about 450 Carrera 2's produced in Coupe and Cabriolet
form. One other note for 1962, a very small number of 356B 4 seater coupes
were made by a Swiss company. They are rare, but still around.
Then, in 1964, the 356C came about.
It had 4-wheel discs brakes, and offered the 1600C, 1600SC, and Carrera
2 engines. So you could get either a 356C or SC, the only difference between
them being the engine. The C and SC were available in Coupe or Cabriolet
form. By the end of 1965, over 76,000 Porsche 356 models had been sold,
and the model 912 took over the 356's place in the
market. But there was also another model in the lineup.....called a "911"
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