While the $85,880 price realized at Bonham seemed fair for a driver-quality 356B cabriolet, it was “all the money” for a non-original car
One of the all-time great sports cars, the 356 was the work of Ferry Porsche, who based it on the Volkswagen designed by his father. Like the immortal ‘Beetle,’ the 356 employed a platform-type chassis with rear-mounted air-cooled engine and all-independent torsion bar suspension. Introduced in 1948, the Porsche 356 set a new standard for small sports cars and proved adaptable to all forms of motor sport, including circuit racing and rallying. In 1951 a works car finished first in the 1,100cc class at the Le Mans 24-Hour Race, thus beginning the marque’s long and illustrious association with La Sarthe. Cabriolets had been manufactured right from the start of 356 production, but the first open Porsche to make a significant impact was the Speedster, introduced in 1954 following the successful reception in the USA of a batch of 15 special roadsters. The Reutter-bodied Speedster was dropped in 1958 and replaced by the more civilized Convertible D, which differed principally by virtue of its larger windscreen and winding side windows. Porsche sub-contracted some body construction to a number of different coachbuilders, Convertible D production being undertaken by Drauz, of Heilbronn.
By the time the 356B arrived in September 1959, the car had gained a one-piece, rounded windscreen and 15-inch diameter wheels, and the newcomer’s introduction brought with it further styling revisions. The engine, now standardized at 1,600cc, was available in three different stages of tune, the most powerful – apart from the four-cam Carrera – being the 90 bhp unit of the Super 90. Roadster production was now at D’Ieteren of Brussels. The 356B represents significant advances in drivability and comfort over earlier 356 models, and is a pleasingly quick way to enjoy the traditional Porsche values of quality, reliability and mechanical robustness.
The left-hand-drive 356B Cabriolet offered here was sold new in Italy and imported into the UK in 2002. Attractively finished in Bali Blue with beige interior, it is described by the private vendor as in perfect mechanical condition, while the dark Navy Blue hood contributes to the well-balanced appearance of this much- sought-after model. The car is offered with original driver’s manual, a quantity of expired MoTs, various service bills from Porsche of Italy, current MoT, and Swansea V5C registration document.