Porsche 356 A

1600 S Speedster 1955

  • Already a consultant of high repute, Ferdinand Porsche set out on his industrial adventure the day after the end of the war. His first project carried the 356 number.
  • In its Speedster version, the 356 was the incarnation of the desire for freedom on the open road with the wind in one's hair!
  • Commercialized in a great number of versions over a period of fifteen years, the 356 rapidly became the cornerstone of the Porsche structure.

This audacious automobile was radically different in terms of both its conception and its style, and was to leave an indelible mark on its generation. Its image is directly linked to its competitive successes, notably with its Carerra and Carerra 2 versions, but it is also indelibly linked to the driving personalities behind it; from actor James Dean to French President Georges Pompidou... its seductive power was immeasurable!

One man, Ferdinand Porsche, can be credited with a great number of firsts; ranging from the first production-made hybrid engine, to the formidable Mercedes-Benz SSK of around 1900 and not forgetting the Volkswagen Beetle. He would apply his talents all manner of vehicles and markets; mass-produced, luxury, competition, military…

Synonymous with all that is exceptional in the world of motor sport, Porsche started out as an independent design office in 1931 and would go on to develop hundreds of projects. The one which would be officially assigned the 356 number was to be of capital importance, as it would entail the production of the first ever Porsche automobile.

The 356 is a distant cousin of the 60K10 prototype, an aerodynamic coupé conceived in 1939 with profiled aluminum body work based on a Volkswagen chassis and powered by a 1.5 liter engine. The three examples that were built were intended for the Berlin-Rome rally, an event that would be cancelled with the outbreak of war. In June 1947, Ferdinand Porsche was a prisoner of war when his son Ferry launched the 356 project in the old Gmünd sawmill in Austria, in collaboration with the concept designer Eberhorst, one of the fathers of the "silver arrow" Auto Union D Type.

To be continued...