The Porsche 356 was made in 1948 and was Porsche’s first production automobile. The 356 had great handling and aerodynamics for its time and by the 1950s, it was becoming very popular amongst automobile enthusiasts.
While it’s less of a household name today than some of Porsche’s other models, such as the 911 or 550, there are still plenty of car enthusiasts that would consider the 356 to be one of the greatest sports cars ever created.
The 356 represents a unique combination of innovation and history. It’s without a doubt a classic and here are five reasons why:
1. It Was the First of Its Kind
At the time the Porsche 356 was created, power was correlated with size. If you wanted a strong engine with lots of horsepower, you drove a larger vehicle. That was until Ferry Porsche set out to do something no one had seen before. He wanted a small car with the power of a large one. Why?
According to Ferry, “it is nicer to drive…and it is more fun.” From there, the Porsche 356 was born, a 1,300-pound vehicle powered by an 1120-cc VW motor, that could hit between 35-40 horsepower.
2. War Car
The Porsche 356 was born in rural Austria in the unsettling time period following World War II. Ferry Porsche set out to create the car as an attempt to prevent his father’s achievements from being confiscated. The larger cars Ferry was accustomed to had been seized as a result of the war. Also due to the war, his father was being held prisoner for crimes he never committed. Personally serving as a director of the 356 project, was a way Ferry could keep the family brand alive and running.
3. Signature Look
This car was primarily made from Volkswagen parts. Ferry Porsche believed that it was the only way to start production with a minimum amount of money. Despite this, the 356 cannot be mistaken for a Volkswagen. It was designed primarily for performance, to minimize weight, and maximize horsepower. Nonetheless, the 356 has undoubtedly shaped the design of many Porsche models for decades.
From its tube-frame to the speedster coupe body style, the design of the Porsche 356 is iconic.
4. Unmatched Versatility
The 356 was one of those models that could be driven to the track, earn first, and then be driven home from the track and taken to work the next day.
In fact, only a month after the first 356 was successfully produced in 1948, it scored a class victory at a race in Innsbruck. Three years later in 1951, Porsche debuted its 356 SL (Sport Light) which had an aluminum body and covered wheels, at the Le Mans 24 Hours. The car was driven by Edmond Mouche and Auguste Veuillet and won the class 751 to 1100 cc, finishing 20th overall.
Off the track, the Porsche 356 was a daily driver for many. By the time Porsche stopped producing the 356 in 1965, over 76,000 units had been made.
5. Classic Porsche Interior
The 356 was created with the simple but luxurious interior design that is expected of Porsche models today. The upholstery came in vinyl or cloth as the standard option and seats could be upgraded to leather.
Everything from the curvature of the seats to the smooth and spacious dash creates a feeling of luxury, without being over the top.
It’s no shock the Porsche 356 is still a great classic car. A 356 in good condition can sell for over $100,000 at an auction. It was the daily driver of Janis Joplin, which had a lot to do with the price, but the most expensive Porsche 356 ever sold, went for $1,760,000.
If you’re considering buying a Porsche 356, make sure you know where to look for rust before you make the purchase.