Porsche and the 356 Celebrate Their 70th Anniversary
With Porsche turning 70 this year, we decided to go right back to the company’s roots by taking at look at the original Porsche sports car – the legendary 356
n June 1947 Ferdinand Porsche allotted project number 356 to a new car design he was working on at his factory in Gmünd. This new car was to be built with Volkswagen parts – all that was available to Porsche in those immediate post-war years. During March 1948 the first Type 356 car (356–001) was tested in chassis form by Ferry Porsche and Robert Eberan von Eberhorst, the car powered by a mid-mounted air-cooled flat-four engine. In April of that same year, roadster bodywork was built for this first prototype. Today, this historic car is on display in the Porsche Museum. Porsche also built a parallel model to 356–001, the Type 356/2, which had a platform chassis but still used Volkswagen mechanicals. With a rear-mounted flat-four this car would be fitted with coupé bodywork designed by Erwin Kommenda. Seventy years ago, with financial aid provided by two Swiss businessmen – Bernhard Blank and R von Senger – Porsche commenced production of 50 Type 356/2 chassis and 10 coupé bodies in March 1948 – the original roadster prototype having now been forgotten.
These 50 sports cars would be the first Porsche 356s – a model that would eventually remain in production until 1964, when it was replaced by the Porsche 911.
With the help of Porsche Club New Zealand 356-expert Graham Lister, we gathered together three of the best examples currently resident in New Zealand – Graham’s own coupé, Neil Tolich’s delightful Speedster and the extremely rare Carrera currently owned by Richard Giltrap.
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