Courtesy of Broad Arrow Auctions

The final iteration of the lightweight, rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive Porsche 356, the 356C, appeared in 1964, coinciding with Porsche’s purchase of the Reutter coachbuilding firm, which would handle all coupe and cabriolet construction in Stuttgart for the remainder of 356 production. New equipment included four-wheel disc brakes, a ZF steering gear and an optional 12-volt electrical system. The most significant improvement over its predecessor was the availability of a 1,600-cc “SC” engine with a higher compression ratio and counterweighted crankshaft allowing it to produce 95 horsepower — the most powerful pushrod engine produced by Porsche at the time. Available in a range of open-top body styles throughout the 15-year production of the 356, the cabriolet was always the most expensive when new.

A left-hand-drive example dating from the penultimate year of production, this 1964 356 SC cabriolet was completed at Porsche’s Zuffenhausen factory on November 28, 1963, in Rubinrot (Ruby Red — 6402) paintwork with a (Schwarz) black leather interior. According to its Porsche-issued Certificate of Authenticity, the range-topping SC cabriolet was additionally optioned with dual “Talbot” mirrors, fog lights and Dunlop tires. Although much of the car’s early history is unrecorded, a digital copy of its factory Kardex reveals that the cabriolet was sold new through Porsche Edgar Kittner Sportwagenzentrum in Lübeck, Germany, to its original owner. As the Kardex is essentially a warranty card, it records a replacement engine (KDP821546) was fitted by the original selling dealer on February 26, 1965.

Today, the consignor notes that this 356 SC presents beautifully throughout in its red-and-black color scheme, having benefited from a complete restoration at some point in its past, and that the current engine serial number matches the Porsche Certificate of Authenticity, which is nicely framed and included in the sale. Driven sparingly since completion, the cabriolet was recently subject to a complete inspection and servicing by the marque specialists at GMP Performance of South Atlanta, GA, and is said to be in superb mechanical condition. This final iteration of Porsche’s original design is offered with its matching black soft-top boot cover and is ready to be enjoyed.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1964 Porsche 356 SC 1600 Cabriolet
Years Produced:1964–65
Number Produced:2,332 (C/SC Cabs)
SCM Valuation:$126,000–$253,000
Tune Up Cost:$350 with valve adjustment
Chassis Number Location:Data plate in forward compartment, in front of gas tank
Engine Number Location:Below generator, on engine case above fan-belt pulley
Club Info:356 Registry and Porsche Club of America
Alternatives:1961–64 Alfa Romeo Giulia, 1962–67 MGB, 1961–68 Triumph TR4
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 238, sold for $215,600, including buyer’s premium, at Broad Arrow Auctions’ Atlanta, GA, sale on June 10, 2023.

Porsche 356 coupes and cabriolets were produced from the start of serial production in 1950 through the end in 1965. As a small-volume automaker, Porsche needed to sell more units of the same basic mechanical platform by appealing to different parts of the market.

The coupe, by far the most popular choice, was a no-nonsense offering to be used in all sorts of weather. Meant to be driven to work daily, it won you over by being engaging and fun on every outing. A 356 coupe was never an inexpensive car, but always cost less than a cabriolet. It was, in many ways, the sensible choice.

The cabriolet was meant as a “sunny day” appurtenance for those looking for something special. Unlike most open sports cars of the day, the nicely padded top was designed to keep you dry inside, being similar in construction to those found on 1961–71 Mercedes 220/250/280 SE cabriolets. As proof of its luxury bona fides, all 356 cabriolets came standard with leather seats, while coupes employed highly durable vinyl for their intended everyday use.

Less is more

Starting in 1954, Porsche also developed “sporting” models for those not worried about staying dry or commuting to work. Most famously, this includes the Speedster in 356 and 356A models through 1958. With no roll-up side windows and a low windscreen (and commensurately low convertible top), it was quite unlike a cabriolet.

The 1959 356A Convertible D and 1960–62 356B roadsters later filled this sporty niche with added headroom and roll-up windows, at less cost and luxury than a cabriolet. Cabriolets have body-painted windshield frames and, due to their complex design, the tops remain visible above the rear cowl when retracted. Sport models have removable, chrome-framed windshields and stow their simple, lightweight tops with a low silhouette behind the passengers.

Even though the sports models were the cheapest when new, for decades the Speedster has been the most expensive 356 body style, running two or three times as much as a coupe in similar condition. Cabs, Convertible Ds and roadsters are somewhere in between, usually closer to coupes than Speedsters. Often, the last cars of an “era” command a premium, but so far the 1964–65 356C/SC models sell mostly on condition.

Cs of change

Porsche 356C/SC bodies were identical to the 1962–63 356B models (known as Type-6). The only big change for 1964 was the use of disc brakes, which required different wheels. Up through 1963, Porsche used VW Beetle-type wheels with exceptionally wide bolt-pattern spacing to lower unsprung weight. The new disc brakes would be fitted with an iconic ventilated-steel-wheel design that remained unchanged, other than varying widths, through 1989.

The C/SC models had one fewer engine option, as the 60-hp “Normal” was dropped. The “Super” became the standard 75-hp 356C engine, with the “Super 90” now called the “SC” and producing 95 hp.

Unanswered questions

Our subject car is finished in Ruby Red, deeper and darker than the more-popular Signal Red, with black leather seats. Later added options include wider chrome wheels, a VDM Carrera wood wheel (or possible reproduction), and a period radio. Missing are the original Talbot mirrors and fog lights.

Worries include the quality of the restoration completed “at some point in its past.” I wonder how careful and thorough it was and how things are holding up? I also note the front bumper droops on the right side and the air cleaners are aftermarket.

Obvious “issues,” such as variations in panel gaps, can have a big effect on 356 values. These can only be judged by a thorough in-person inspection. There are hidden spots on a 356 that experts like to touch, such as inside the rear edge of the front fenders to see how much of the original metal fold remains intact. This applies to the bottoms of the doors and the inside of the hood along the edges as well.

The engine serial number remains a bit of a mystery. Auction notes indicate a factory replacement under warranty with s/n 821546, yet the engine in the car and the Kardex shows s/n 820429. Normally, the original engine under warranty returns to the factory for a tear-down and inspection. I wonder how this car lost its factory rebuild and ended up with an engine that has the numbers of the original?

Valuation is always subject to a detailed inspection by a 356 expert. If it all checks out, despite a lack of records, then the price paid was a bit ahead of the market. But if flaws are apparent and the engine number mystery isn’t solved, we’ll have to call this one well sold. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Broad Arrow Auctions.)

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