The Carrera was intended for high-speed touring, a fast, exclusive car built for hops from Paris to Monaco with a wife or lover-your choice

The evocative "Carrera" name first graced the flanks of a Porsche in 1955. Applied to a 356A powered by a slightly less ferocious version of the racing 550 Spyder's 1.5-liter, twin-overhead-camshaft, roller-bearing engine, it had been adopted to capitalize on Porsche's victories in the Carrera PanAmericana in 1952 and '54.

Dry-sumped like the racer's, the 4-cam Carrera engine produced 100 hp, some ten horsepower less than in race trim. Nevertheless, this was good enough to propel the 356 Carrera to over 120 mph, making it the fastest 1.5-liter production car of its day and a formidable racetrack competitor. Significant developments included a capacity increase to 1.6 liters in 1958 and the adoption of a plain-bearing crankshaft at the same time.

Introduced in the autumn of 1961 at the Frankfurt Auto Show, the 2-liter Carrera 2 became the first Porsche production car to have disc brakes. Numerous additional cooling vents were among the recently introduced improvements, but most attention was focused on the new 1,966-cc 4-cam engine. This produced 130 hp at 6,200 rpm, and while the Carrera's top speed increased only slightly to around 125 mph, there was a marked improvement in acceleration despite the newcomer's greater weight; the 0 to 100 mph time was cut from 33.5 seconds to 27.2. The Carrera 2 had been introduced part way through 356B production, and it continued virtually unchanged after the 356C's arrival in 1963.

"The car's acceleration is truly exhilarating," enthused Road & Track magazine. "The clutch takes quite a bit of throttle without protest, and when one finds that it is time for 2nd gear, down comes the stick in a flick, more acceleration, and other cars pass as in reverse. High up in the speed range this is it-the effortless superiority of the true high-performance machine." It's a sensation that even at legal road speeds this cataloger can endorse wholeheartedly with this example, a good, straight, original car that feels tight and together, while all the time itching to go faster and test its cornering abilities.

Delivered new in 1963, it is understood that this 356 Carrera 2 has had just two previous owners: The first was a Dr. Breidenbach of Oakland, CA, and according to a copy of its DC Title, the last owner purchased the Carrera 2 on May 11, 1976. The odometer states a figure of approximately 81,000 km, which seems to be substantiated by various notes of mileages at points in its life.

At some point in its lifetime, we believe 15-20 years ago, the 356 underwent a thorough cosmetic restoration, at which point it was painted the current period dark gray color. The interior was redone in the 1970s and now shows some age but no damage in any way. Unusually, the Porsche still retains features such as its original heater system, and although it is no longer operational, it is nevertheless a nice period detail and provides a good gauge of the originality/authenticity of the car in general.

The car has recently been fully serviced, with a clean bill of health and compression and leakdown tests returning perfect results.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1963 Porsche 356 Carrera 2
Number Produced:Fewer than 30
Original List Price:$8,000
Tune Up Cost:$2,500
Chassis Number Location:On bulkhead in front of gas tank; plate on left front door jamb
Engine Number Location:On pad on left side of engine case above the crank pulley
Club Info:356 Registry; Porsche Club of America
Investment Grade:A

This 1963 Porsche 356 Carrera 2 Cabriolet sold for $381,000, including buyer’s premium, at the Bonhams auction in Greenwich, Connecticut, on June 7, 2009.

By the mid 1960s, Porsche had seen the handwriting on the wall as far as the 356 was concerned, and was concentrating on its new rising star, the 911. But it had one last trick left for its workhorse 356.

Engine took nearly 100 hours to assemble

The Fuhrmann-designed Carrera 4-cam engine, Type 587/1, with 130 hp, was very complex, and it took an experienced factory mechanic using brand new parts nearly 100 hours to assemble. This was an expensive venture for any car company, let alone one as small as Porsche. The 356B Carrera 2 Cabriolet cost around $8,000, almost twice the cost of a similar pushrod-engined Cabriolet, by far the most expensive road car Porsche had ever produced, and probably the most costly to build. As a comparison, a new Cadillac Eldorado convertible cost just over $6,000. Obviously, this was a hard car to sell at those numbers, which accounts for its scarcity and exclusivity today.

Although this same engine in modified form was used in the Abarth Carrera and the 904, the Cabriolet was intended for high-speed touring. Touring in this sense meant a fast, exclusive car built for short hops from, say, Paris to Monaco with a wife or lover-your choice.

The cars were usually heavily optioned with accessories such as fitted luggage, and head rests, so your passenger could rest his/her head while you drove. It had nothing to do with safety. It was all about style, and the Carrera 2 Cab fit that bill to a T. It was assembled with typical Porsche attention to detail. Full leather interiors, a padded soft top, wooden steering wheel, extra insulation, and Blaupunkt radios were the norm in most Carreras. These were fast, quiet cars able to clip off hundreds of miles a day in comfort.

Mechanical condition is the key to a Carrera

The Carrera badge signaled to those in the know that you were part of a very exclusive club-the pinnacle of 356 development. The new 911 would have similar horsepower, as well as independent suspension, but some purists would argue this was “not the soul of the 356 Carrera 2.” Some people never made the change, and you can find staunch advocates for both sides even today.

I had the opportunity to go over this car very closely while it was at the well-known Porsche shop Autosport Designs on Long Island. On most 356s, my best advice to buyers is to find the one in the best structural condition, and be less concerned about the mechanics. The Carreras may be the exception to that rule. New engine parts are impossible to come by, the handful of knowledgeable mechanics with required factory tools are few and far between, and they are overloaded with work.

Whoever set this car up knew what he was doing. It started easily, didn’t smoke, and had that great Carrera “grunt” they’re known for when they come on the cam. It drove very well, and looked sensational in that period Slate Gray I love. The body was rust free, and although the cosmetics were older, it had an honest feel to it. I understand it’s going back to a collection in Germany.
I recently sold a restored version of this car that drove similarly, but had better paint and interior, for a lot more money. I think the buyer got a very rare automobile at a fair price, and I’d call this well bought.

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