Porsche 356: The First Porsche
While the 911 is considered to be the quintessential Porsche, it is not the first Porsche. That title goes to the 365, a car that is sold in coupe, cabriolet, and speedster variants. Given its stature as the road car that put this German sports car institution on the map, it’s important for any Porsche or sports car enthusiast get to know about this motoring legend.
The Porsche 365 was first produced in 1948 as the first Porsche car that hit showrooms. While some will argue that the 364 is the first car that Porsche truly built, it is more of a prototype and was never really mass produced. The 365 is the first mass produced vehicle to come out of the Zuffenhausen factory in Stuttgart. It is designed by Ferdinand Porsche, Ferry Porsche, and Erwin Komenda. Some of the engineering details of this car, including the engine design, are actually sourced from the Volkswagen Beetle, a car Porsche himself designed.
When it was first released, the 356 is available in coupe (hardtop) and cabriolet (luxury convertible) variants. But when Porsche hit the American shores, Max Hoffman, the only importer of Porsches in the United States, had a special request for Porsche. He wants a convertible that’s not only more affordable, but also more race-ready. The product of this request is the Speedster variant. With a stripped-down trim, it is significantly lighter than the Cabriolet. What’s more, with a lower windshield that is removable, it became an ideal car for those who want to race cars during the weekend.
All variants enjoyed a high amount of popularity in different parts of the globe. Not only are these cars reliable and carry a quiet elegance, but this car also has a very sporty performance and appeal. They can drive these cars on the streets, and they can take these cars on the track when the moment calls for it. This is especially so with the Speedster, a variant that is considered as race-ready as any production car during its time. This car is owned by a number of celebrities including James Dean, and is immortalized in various movies such as 48 Hours, Another 48 Hours, and Top Gun.
When the 911 emerged in 1963, the torch is about to get passed, even though a lot of people initially didn’t approve of it. Because of the continuingly high demand for the 356 (which is partly because of the high cost of acquisition for the 911), it remained in production until 1965, lasting 17 years as a pioneer in Porsche production cars. Because of its lasting popularity, it has led to the production of the 912, a car that uses the 356 engine, from 1965 to 1969.
Even up to this day, the influence of the Porsche 356 is still strongly felt. A lot of Porsche enthusiasts recognize the historic significance of this car and the driving pleasure it’s capable of bringing. These cars are very desirable today, with some models being sold for more than a hundred thousand dollars.