Ah!….into what a parking lot had the garden of Marlinspike hall converted into. Thank you Joylon Wagg for being such a nag for Haddock. Another great car seen participating in the Vagabond Car Club Rally a small blue car, the number 8. It is an icon of motoring excellence coming out of Austria and Germany. The Porsche 356A.
The 356A was the second car in the 356 series which covered the 356, 356A, 356B and 356C. These cars were light weight luxury sports cars built by Porsche from 1948 to 1965. For the first two years these cars were manufactured by Porsche Konstruktionen GesmbH at Gmund in Austria. Thereafter the production shifted to Zuffenhausen where these cars were manufactured by the German company, “Dr Ing h c F Porsche GmbH”. The Porsche 356 was designed by Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche, son of Dr Ferdinand Porsche. This was the first car manufactured by Porsche, earlier the company had designed cars for other manufacturers like the Volkswagen Beetle, Cisitalia race cars and Auto Union race cars.The idea behind the 356 was to install a powerful engine in a small car which would be fast and easy to maneouvre. These cars were a hit with enthusiasts who drove them to work through the week and raced them over the weekend. It won its first laurels at Innsbruck in 1948 where it won its class.
The 356A was manufactured between 1955 and 1959. It was offered as:-
- 2-door coupe
- 2-door convertible
- 2-door roadster.
These cars had a unitary (monocoque) body construction. The basic design of the car did not change through out the life span and only functional upgrades in the structure were carried out. As the USP of the car was sportiness and speed and not mass appeal, superficial annual changes in the cars were not carried out. One of the models offered in the USA was a stripped down open top car with a reduced wind screen which could be removed easily for racing. These cars were extremely popular in California, USA. The 356A was offered with a curved wind screen instead of the bent screen offered on the 356.
These cars were made available with various engines which were further offered with different states of tune. As a result we had two 1.3 litre engines, a 1.5 litre race engine with four cams called the Carrera and three 1.6 litre engines. These engines generated power as follows:-
- 1300 cc – 44 HP.
- 1300 cc Super – 60 HP.
- 1600 cc – 60 HP.
- 1600 Super – 75 HP.
- 1500 GS Carrera – 100 HP.
All these engines were installed in the rear and drove the rear wheels. The power and torque were transferred to the rear wheels through a four speed gear box. The 356 weighed in at a mere 820 kg (1808 lb) and the 60 HP 1600 cc engine could push it to a top speed of 177 km/h (110 mph).
Luxury car? Have you ever driven one? I didn’t find any luxury in the ones I had the privilege to drive. Iconic sports car, I certainly agree, and the one car that would define Ferdinand Porsche’s name, I agree too. It was designed as a sports car, and while it was more in the class of smaller sports cars it was good enough to challenge the big boys like Mercedes 300SL (that’s a luxury sports car) and Jaguar E type. Certainly a credit to its designer.