On a country estate in Gmünd in Austria, Ferry Porsche starts in the summer of 1947 under the project number 356.49.001 to realize his dream of owning a sports car. The son of the engineer Ferdinand Porsche continues where his father had stayed with cars like the Berlin-Rome car before the war.
With the open two-seater begins the story of the famous sports car manufacturer – it is the birth of a later classic. The official drawing of January 6, 1948 shows a two-seater roadster with a tube frame and a mid-engine – a basic concept of race cars. There is also a large, even technical proximity to Volkswagen – Ferry's father Ferdinand had developed the beetle.
July 4, 1948 – the hour of birth
Aside from the bodywork, largely Volkswagen components for engine, transmission and suspension are supplied, which are typically a modified Porsche, as can be read in the Porsche Chronicle. The silver roadster will be on display for the first time on 4 July 1948 at the Swiss Grand Prix in Bern. He celebrates the real public premiere at the Salon de Genève in March 1949.
From 7 kW / 10 hp to 220 kW / 300 hp
A thin aluminum body extends over a pair of grating struts and below the axles, the steering wheel, the wheels and the brakes of the VW beetle. And the 1.1-liter boxer engine comes from Wolfsburg, but was reinforced by Porsche thanks to newly designed cylinder heads with 7 kW / 10 hp, which meant 26 kW / 35 hp. With 585 kilos this is enough for a top of 135 km / h.
Today, where even the weakest Porsche sports car reaches 220 kW / 300 hp, the 356 seems almost ridiculous. This applies to both the debut and later evolution steps such as the 1958 356 A Super Speedster, which was taken out of the garage for the birthday and at least 55 kW / 75 hp, 14.5 seconds before the sprint and a top of 175 km / h is coming. But even in old age he has not lost his bite and works much faster in practice. 55 kW / 75 hp feels different when they only have 760 kilos to move. The bot dances lightly through the curves, hangs poisonously on the gas and bites in the back of the car at the front.
Later evolutionary phase: Porsche 356 A Super Speedster from 1958. (Source: Thomas Geiger / dpa / tmn)
Porsche – neither practical nor reasonable
With its 3.87 meters it looks elegant and inconspicuous like a toy car. He is actually that too. For anyone who wants a practical car or a reasonable car, he does not even buy a Porsche. But Porsche drives well with his little nice car. Built under the simplest conditions 53 copies of the first, he arrives in 1949 to Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. 1950 starts with the series production of a somewhat slimmed down model: although it stays with the four-cylinder VW, but instead of the tube frame, aluminum and mid-engine of the 356 for proud prices from 10,200 points now gets a steel frame and the engine like the Beetle in the back .
By 1965, just under 78,000 copies of the 356 were built. The penalty, which replaced him, with its nearly one million units on larger numbers, is now much better known and has taken back more race victories. "But the 356 is the core of the company and without him there would be no other Porsche models," says Heinrich Besserer from Überlingen, head of the more than 600 members of the German 356 club.
"Most people are enthusiastic about the cars that were famous and popular in their youth, and those were the 356" in our generation, "says 74-year-old Wolfgang Köhler of the Rhein-Main 356 Stammtisch in Frankfurt. The disadvantage of this is that fans from the first hour have to pay tribute to their age so slowly. And the advantage that the cars are always on the market again, says Köhler. For the generation of grandchildren and heirs preferring to look for a penalty, the 356 driver has learned.
Up to 250,000 euros for a convertible
But the interest in racing for the first time can not be that small, even for the new Porsche fans. Otherwise the prices would not be so high: "If you want to start a project that is ready halfway, you have to expect 30,000 to 40,000 euros for the base vehicle and then invest a lot of time and money", Besserer estimates. Depending on the state, between 60,000 and 120,000 euros is due for a fully restored coupe. The convertible bonds would be traded between 100,000 and 250,000 euros.