Although Ferdinand Porsche had established his automotive design consultancy in the early 1930s, his name did not grace a car until 1949. This debut marked the introduction of one of the all-time great sports cars: the Porsche 356. Initial production began with a limited run of aluminum-bodied cars at Gmünd, and later, Porsche shifted to mass production of the steel-bodied 356 coupé. Initially, production occurred at the old Stuttgart facility, shared with coachbuilders Reutter, and later moved to the original factory at Zuffenhausen in 1955.
Designed by Ferry Porsche, the 356 was based on the Volkswagen created by his father. Like the iconic ‘Beetle,’ it utilized a platform-type chassis with a rear-mounted air-cooled engine and all-independent torsion bar suspension. Continuously revised and updated, this landmark sports car endured well into the era of the 911, with the last units rolling off the assembly line in 1965.
The ultimate iteration, the 356C model, made its debut in 1963, sharing a striking resemblance with the final 356Bs. Notable enhancements included four-wheel disc brakes, first seen on the 2-litre Carrera 2, along with various detail improvements. The available engines, both 1.6 liters in size, were the 75bhp ‘C’ and the 95bhp ‘SC,’ the latter replacing the Super 90. In a 1964 test of the 356C, Road & Track praised its comfort, quality, and outstanding performance, concluding that “one would look a long time before finding a sports or GT car that offers more pure driving enjoyment.”