My last few posts may have demonstrated my inclination towards Mercedes Benz, but I am basically in love with cars, and automotive technology. One of the best examples of automotive technology is another German manufacturer, Porsche. In fact I am in love with the 911 since 1976, when I was four and I saw a picture of the 911 for the first time ever.
A predecessor of the 911 was the Porsche 956, designed by Ferdinand Porsche Junior. The car model I own is a Bburago 1:18 scale 356B from 1961. The 956 was introduced 1948 and was in production in various guise, ie, 356, 356A, 356B and 356C till 1965. It was a light and nimble sports car which was available as a: –
- 2-door coupe.
- 2-door convertible.
- 2-door roadster.
The basic principle on which the 956 was designed was that a small car light car with an engine with sufficient power was more fun to drive than a large car with an overpowered engine. For better handling the car had a unitary or monocoque chassis. The body was designed by Erwin Komenda who was a designer with Porsche. The first cars were manufactured in Austria in 1948. The first 356 was entered in a race at Innsbruck in Austria in 1948 and won in its class on debut. Production shifted to Germany in 1949.
Initially very few people noticed the car. Most of the buyers were early adopter racing enthusiasts who raced their cars as well as drove them on roads. In 1951, the 356 won at LeMans. This catapulted it into the big league and it was recognised on both sides of the “Pond” as a car with excellent handling and aerodynamics with fantastic build quality to boot. The demand surged thereafter with Porsche ending up building and selling around 76,000 356s between 1948 and 1965.
The 356B which I own was introduced in 1959. The 1961 model was offered with a 1.6 litre engine or the 2.0 litre Carrera engine. Mine model is a 1.6 litre car. These cars were powered by a 1,582 cc (96.6 Cu-inch) 4 cylinder naturally aspirated boxer petrol engine. A boxer engine is basically a V-4 where the angle of V is 180 degrees, ie, the two cylinders are flat and opposing each other. This engine breathed through two over head valves per cylinder and produced a modest 59 BHP at 4,500 rpm. They also produced a modest 110 N-m (81-lb-ft) of torque at 2,800 rpm. The engines were rear mounted and drove the rear wheels on the same lines as the Volkswagen Beetle which was also designed by Ferdinand Porsche. Power and torque was transferred to the rear wheels through a four speed gear box. Fuel was fed into the engine through two carburetors.
These small engines with modest power could push the 4,010 mm (157.9″) long, 1,670 mm (65.7″) wide and 1,330 mm (52.4″) tall cars weighing 1,250 Kg (2,756lbs) to a top speed of 153 km/h (95 mph). These cars could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in a leisurely 16.6 seconds. 0-60 mph was achieved in 15.5 seconds. The Porsche 356B could complete a quarter mile drag race in 20.2 seconds achieving a speed of 110 km/h (68 mph) when brakes were applied. Stopping power was provided by disc brakes in the 356B of 1961.
The Porsche 356 was a popular car from the 1950s and 60s. Herge, keeping with the times had depicted the 356A in “Tintin and the Red Sea Sharks”. This car is also part of my blog under the series “Cars of Tintin”.