If this car drives as the catalog says, the new owner did very well. If not get busy spending and making it right
The 356A was Porsche's first volume production car, in Coupe, Speedster, and Cabriolet versions. Introduced in 1956, the 356A embodied substantial revisions to the original 356 series, including a one-piece curved windshield, horn grilles under the headlights, and a gas gauge.
Changes to the front and rear suspension, 15-inch wheels in the radically wide size (for the period) of 4.5 inches, a padded dashboard, and better legroom and headroom distinguished the A cars from their predecessors.
Bodies for the 1956-57 cars were built exclusively by the Reutter body works. Engine choices included both pushrod and four-cam versions, starting with the 1,300-cc pushrod models at 44 or 60 hp (measured under the conservative DIN system). The 1,600-cc pushrod engines produced 60 and 75 DIN hp and later became the standard engines through the B models to 1963.
Of the two four-cam engines, one was a 1,500-cc GS engine with 100 DIN hp, the other a 1,500-cc GT model in a higher state of tune that produced 110 hp. Later in the A series, 1,600-cc GS and GT four-cam engines replaced the 1,500-cc version. All 1,500-cc GS and GT four-cam engines had troublesome roller bearing cranks, and some of the pushrod engines had rollers as well.
This attractive 1957 Porsche 356A Coupe has had sympathetic restoration work applied on an as-needed basis to a very solid original automobile. It includes a new and correct red leather interior as well as new clutch, brakes and muffler.
It is road- and show-ready and also eligible to compete in vintage sports car racing and rally events at any number of venues worldwide. Like all vintage Porsches, this car is nimble, quick and fun to drive and offers the driver unending miles of rapid and reliable pleasure behind the wheel.
|1957 Porsche 356A
|Original List Price:
|Tune Up Cost:
|Chassis Number Location:
|On horizontal bulkhead under front hood
|Engine Number Location:
|Stamped just below generator on third piece of alloy engine case
This 1957 Porsche 356A Coupe sold for $30,800 at the Gooding & Company 2006 Palm Beach Auction.
While at first blush a very good buy, some homework with the specification books helps us explain why a car this nice sold for this relatively low price. However, in spite of an incorrect engine, I will call this car well-bought.
One good point about any 356A is the basic platform, which has greatly improved handling characteristics for modern driving, compared with the more primitive 356. Porsche 356As have become the darlings of many in the Porsche crowd due to their sleek period looks, lines never quite equaled by the later B and C cars.
The most obvious flaw in this example, although it won’t hurt the car as a driver, is the 1958 1600-cc “Normal” engine with 60 DIN hp. This is an acceptable early engine, although it has the smaller oil pump and weaker rods. However, if carefully rebuilt to original specs, with correct pistons and cylinders, carburetors, and distributor, it can still be a fine engine with plenty of pep, though few will call this car fast.
An improper engine isn’t the end of the world in a 356 today. As 356 cars of all types have become more popular, engine swaps have become quite accepted-at an appropriate price discount, of course. The best swap is either a wrong engine from the same model year, or a much more powerful engine from a newer car. This car has neither, in that we have a “Normal” from a wrong year. Nothing wrong with this for a driver, but with this engine, the car appeals neither to the “originality” crowd nor the performance seekers.
If you don’t have the original engine for your 356, find a Super-90, SC, or 912 engine, rebuilt to perfection, to at least boast about how fast your car drives (given, of course, that these things are all relative).
And that brings up another point: Many old Porsche 356s drive like VW Beetles. Most owners won’t admit that, not because they are dishonest, but because most people who own 356s don’t know the difference. If you do, count yourself lucky. I am continually astonished, as I let people get behind the wheel of one of our 356s, at their amazement at how the car drives-which is nothing more than how they are supposed to drive. So a central issue with any 356 is how well it all works. If this 1961 Cabriolet Series II drives as the catalog says it does, then the new owner did very well. If not, then join the crowd and get busy making the car run right.
The value for a Porsche 356 is based on a hundred details, taken all together, that define the nature of the example. It is not possible to accurately value any 356 without seeing and driving the car. But working from the auction catalog, we have clues. For example, notice the flat seat bottoms. There is supposed to be a deep pleat that runs from side to side to develop a pocket in which to place your rear end. It is missing, one sign of a “quickie” recovering. Notice the wrinkles on the seat back? This is not the way these seats should look. Look at the windshield wipers, placed haphazardly. None of these are big issues, but some of the things we see begin to tell a story about the way this example was put together.
Depending on a look at many other details, the purchaser may have gotten a fair value for today’s market, which would be my guess. But on the other hand, the new owner may have his work cut out for him.