It was Porsche's first production automobile. Earlier cars designed by the Austrian company includes Cisitalia Grand Prix race car, and the Volkswagen Beetle as well as Auto Union Grand Prix cars were designed by the German company.
The 356 was a lightweight and nimble-handling rear-engine rear-wheel-drive 2-door sports car available in hardtop coupe and open configurations. Engineering innovations continued during the years of manufacture, contributing to its motorsports success and popularity. Production started in 1948 at Gmünd, Austria, where approximately 50 cars were built. In 1950 the factory relocated to Zuffenhausen, Germany, and general production of the 356 continued until April 1965, well after the replacement model 911 made its autumn 1963 debut. Of the 76,000 originally produced, approximately half survive.
Like their badges, Speedsters have become gold-plated cult classics. Much imitated by replica builders, the originals are high on many collectors’ wanted lists and have been known to change hands for six-figure sums, despite nearly 5000 having been built. Most are in America, which is no surprise as that’s the market they were built for. They were actually made at the suggestion of US Porsche importer Max Hoffman, who wanted a stripped down version of the 356 that could be driven during the week and raced at weekends, much like later Porsche Club Sports.
Top speed: 108mph
Configuration: Flat 4
Fuel delivery: carburettor
Suspension Front: Longitudinal swing arms, torsion bars, anti-roll bars
Suspension Rear: Oscillating half-axles, radius arms, torsion bars
Drivetrain: rear-engine RWD
Bodyframe: chassis and seperate body
Transmission: Four-speed manual