1951 Porsche 356 Split-Window Coupe

This car is fitted with the rare 1,500-cc engine, when most were 1,100 cc to 1,300 cc. I don’t know if it’s the actual engine from new, but it is correct

During the Second World War, Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche and a handful of his faithful employees started work on development number 356 in their workshops in the town of Gmünd in Kärnten, Austria. The first design drawings were completed on July 17, 1947.

Nearly a year later, on June 8, 1948, the Kärnten state government issued a special permit homologating the prototype. Returning home after being held by the French as a prisoner of war, Professor Ferdinand Porsche, Ferry’s father, saw the new car and immediately stated that “every single bolt was just right.”

The prototype 356 was then followed by a small series of 52 additional cars built in Gmünd. Further production in Stuttgart from 1950 to 1965 amounted to 78,000 units of the 356 model. The first 356s featured an engine with just 1,131 cc displacement and only 35 hp, almost necessitating that the first few 356s be as light as possible. The bodies, therefore, were crafted initially from light alloy.

The early 1950s were good times for the expanding family-owned company; aside from relocating business back to revitalized Stuttgart, they soon found that demand for the 356 far exceeded their expectations. The car was simple in design and relatively straightforward to produce.

The chassis was a boxed, pressed steel assembly in unit with the floorpan, and with the engine slung low at the back. The interior was relatively basic but offered plenty of usable space and good visibility. Final assembly of the bodywork was entrusted to Reutter. Performance was initially modest-but entertaining-and the handling characteristics were easy to cope with.

In the summer of 1951, the company reached a milestone, building its 1,000th car in Germany. As the 1950s unfolded, Porsches triumphed in grueling road-race events, with cars entered in all of the important rallies of the day-the Mille Miglia, Alpine, Berne, and Campione events.

This early production split-window “interim-bumper” example of a 1951 356 “pre-A” coupe received a high-quality restoration some years ago. The 1951 Split-Window Coupe was originally sold at the Park Avenue dealership owned by the U.S. importer, Max Hoffman. It was bought by an unknown owner who kept the car until 1964, when it was sold to a New York City auto dealer. The car was stored in a Lime Rock, Connecticut, barn until it was discovered in 1989 by Porsche restorer Craig Stevenson. The 1951 Split-Window Coupe was found complete, though partially disassembled.

The car currently sports a 1500-cc engine. The panelwork is very straight, with good shut lines to the doors, engine lid, and front boot, while the attractive green finish exhibits care and quality of workmanship.

Inside, contrasting green upholstery can be found on the folding front seats, as well as on the matching door trim and door pockets, while correct square-weave carpeting covers the remaining surfaces. The dash layout includes clear gauges and an original and rare Telefunken period radio. The engine compartment is as tidy as the rest of the car and has had just a nominal amount of running since it was overhauled in the past.

With the attractive Reutter bodywork and a rare and correct color scheme, this attractive early interim-bumper 356 Split-Window Coupe should appeal to both concours purists and driving enthusiasts alike.