1956 Porsche 356 Speedster
Configuration: Rear Engine, Rear Wheel Drive
Engine: 1.5 Liter Flat Four
Horsepower: 60 @ 4400 RPM
0-60 MPH: 13.9 Seconds
Top speed: 99 MPH
Weight: 1800 lbs.
A lot comes to mind when you mention the word ‘Porsche’ nowadays; motorsport success, attractive poster cars, highly advanced hybrid supercars just to name a few. Porsche has built themselves to be one of the most highly respected automotive brands in the world, with a complete range of cars that speak for themselves. The 911 has been the brand’s most successful model since its introduction in 1963, and cars like the all new electric Taycan are confidently taking the brand into the future. All of this however, started with just one model more than 70 years ago.
The Porsche 356 was the brand’s first production model that truly launched the company after World War II. About 50 models of the 356 were handmade from aluminum in Gmünd, Austria over between 1948 and 1950. The first road certified 356 was entered into a race in Innsbruck, Austria, where the car won its class. This served as a theme for many Porsche owners to come; race on the weekends, drive to work during the week.
Ferry Porsche stated, “I had always driven very speedy cars. I had an Alfa Romeo, also a BMW and others. By the end of the war I had a Volkswagen Cabriolet with a supercharged engine and that was the basic idea. I saw that if you had enough power in a small car it is nicer to drive than if you have a big car which is also overpowered. And it is more fun. On this basic idea we started the first Porsche prototype. To make the car lighter, to have an engine with more horsepower…that was the first two-seater that we built in Carinthia (Gmünd).”
This was the mindset behind the 356. A small, light, well-built sports car that produces a memorable driving experience. Less was essentially more, and no model better represented that ideology more than the 356 Speedster. The already slimmed down sports car was stripped out of anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary. The windshield was smaller and was removable. A hardtop was not an option, just a small fabric top. The 356 Speedster was one of the most connected driving experiences on the market in the mid 1950’s, and carried Porsche from their humble beginnings to worldwide respect.
The 356 Speedster has become one of the most desirable Porsches of all time due to its pure driving experience, a redeemable trait Porsche has not forgotten as they’ve grown. Porsche has released Speedster models in previous years, mostly based off of normal 911 models with unique options. Porsche celebrated their 70th anniversary with their most special 911 Speedster yet – the first Speedster based off of the high performance GT3 platform. Like the original, the 991 generation Speedster is lighter than a typical 911, and a hand-operated fabric top is the only option. While the new Speedster has 500 horsepower – more than six times more than the original model – it’s safe to say that both models are equally as fun to drive.