As the first serial production car to wear the Porsche name, the 356 was the car that set the company firmly on the path to success in the worlds of sporting road cars and motorsport. The first 356 was a relatively simple car that shared its basic layout with the Volkswagen, utilizing a monocoque chassis design and a highly reworked version of the VW’s flat-four cylinder engine slung out behind the rear axle. For his own car, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche dramatically improved the VW engine with new heads, new cam, new crankshaft and other internals, as well as adding a dual carburetor intake. The very first Porsche car hit the road in Austria in 1948, and as the 1950s progressed, fewer and fewer VW parts were used in production. The end result of Dr. Porsche’s methodical refinement was a free revving engine that produced double the horsepower of the People’s Car. True to the Porsche Ethos, the 356 itself was continuously being refined and revised over its 17 year production run, without ever being fully redesigned at one time. By the time 356C production ended in 1965, horsepower had nearly doubled again from the first 356s and the car had gained four wheel disc brakes and a host of mechanical, styling and trim refinements.
As with any long-running automobile, each evolution of the chassis has its own group of dedicated fans. For many drivers and collectors, the 356B remains the sweetest and best balanced of the lot, both in terms of performance and styling. A wide variety of body styles graced the basic 356 shape over the years. From coupes to cabriolets and everything in between, Porsche offered a body style to appeal to a wide range of enthusiasts. Perhaps the purest expression of the 356 as a driver-focused sports car was the Speedster. The Speedster first appeared in 1955 at the urging of the influential American importer, Max Hoffman. Hoffman believed that a stripped down, lower cost 356 would sell well in America, particularly in sunny California where sports car racing was all the rage. Hoffman’s hunch proved right and the Speedster was an instant hit. Unlike the Cabriolet, the open topped Speedster had a rakish cut down windscreen, fixed-back bucket seats, side curtains in place of door glass, and a rudimentary folding top. The car was lighter, cheaper and faster than its siblings, and had a unique, simplistic elegance to its appearance. Production was relatively short however, running from 1955 through 1958. As customer demand for such a basic sports car waned, Porsche changed the formula to keep buyers happy. The replacement Convertible D was little more than a Speedster with a taller windscreen and roll up windows. A more thoroughly redesigned replacement for the Convertible D came in 1960, named the Roadster. The Roadster still retained similar lines to the Speedster, but like the D included full weather equipment, roll up side glass and a further refined styling of the Karosserie Drauz-built bodies. The 1600 engine gave brisk performance, and the Roadster remained the sporting choice, as the cabriolet was slightly heavier. Roadster production only lasted through early 1962, when the Cabriolet became the only open 356 option.
This attractive 1960 356B Roadster is a numbers-matching example that has been treated to a recent comprehensive restoration with an emphasis on driving and enjoyment. It is finished in a very crisp color combination of Bali Blue over a red leather interior with a gray squarweave carpets and a black Stayfast top. The paint and bodywork are fresh, with very good, consistent panel gaps throughout. The chrome and brightwork are excellent, and the car rides on a nice set of chrome wheels and excellent Vredestein tires.
The numbers-matching 1600 Super engine – as verified by the Porsche Certificate of Authenticity - has been recently upgraded with twin Weber carburetors for performance and ease of service, though purists can rest assured that the original carburetors are included in the sale. The engine is nicely detailed and very well presented appearing extremely fresh. Likewise, interior is beautifully presented, with the smell of fresh leather still strong in the cabin; the red upholstery beautifully contrasting the blue paint. The correct squareweave carpeting is executed in an attractive gray color, and a deluxe steering wheel greets the driver.
The 356B roadster is one of the rarest and most desirable open 356s. Drum brake Bs are an absolute joy to drive, with delicate steering, a torquey smallbore engine that thrives on revs and gorgeous, timeless styling. Combining the simplistic charm of the Speedster with a bit more comfort and convenience, the Roadster makes a fabulous driver’s car for all conditions. Recent mechanical and restoration work totals over $40,000, making this very well sorted and attractive example ready for enjoyment.
Please note that the car is titled as a 1961.