356C 1600 Cabriolet
Configuration: Read engine, rear wheel drive
Engine: 1,582 cc OHV flat 4-cylinder engine
Horsepower: 75 bhp at 5,200 RPM
Transmission: 4-speed manual transaxle
A Little History
The 356, Porsche’s first production automobile produced from 1948 to 1965, was created by Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche, son of the founder of the German company who also designed the Volkswagen Beetle (image above, c. 1960, courtesy Porsche Archives).
Ferry Porsche described the thinking behind the development of the 356 in an interview with the editor of Panorama in September 1972:
“I had always driven very speedy cars. I had an Alfa Romeo 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.”
By the time the 356B arrived in September 1959, Porsche’s first sports car had gained a one-piece rounded windscreen and 15″-diameter wheels and an engine now standardized at 1,600cc.
Featuring the improved four-wheel disc brakes and the attractive twin grille engine cover, the 356C is often touted as the best driving, most refined version of the celebrated 356 model.
Did You Know?
The 901 (later called the 911) ultimately replaced the 356 in carrying the Porsche name forward.
In December 2015, the 1964 Porsche 356C 1600 Cabriolet owned by Janis Joplin sold at auction for $1.76 million. Janis commissioned the custom paint-job from one of her roadies; the car was later exhibited at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.