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Horn Button Identification

July 14, 2010 | Research & Identification
Contributed by Brian Kelly, Photos by Brian O'Kelly, Edited and Additional Material by Barry Lee Brisco

[Editor: Original horn buttons in good condition are becoming increasingly rare, and as their value increases, more and more reproductions are being sold as "originals" at higher and higher prices. Many 356 owners define "original" as a part that was used by Porsche on the cars when they were built, though it can also be defined as the same part sold by Porsche at a later date as a replacement, even if it differs in appearance. There can be more than one "original" part and Porsche does not make the same distinctions that 356 owners commonly make. "Reproductions" (not a Porsche term) may have been authorized by Porsche, and made to closely resemble the originals—though not always exactly—or they may not have been authorized and typically are made with little attention to detail.]

Below is an original factory installed horn button (used in cars built before September 1959). Note the detail in the horses head and mane, the number of tynes (4) on the lower right antler, and the width of the chrome bezel. The bezel is chrome-plated brass. This button is made by VDM and the company name is molded into the back side as shown in this photo.

[Editor: VDM made most of the steering wheels and horn buttons for German car manufacturers during the 356 years.]

Below is what is sometimes referred to as a "first generation" replacement, and is made by Petri.

Their logo is on the back side, which looks very different from the original VDM button.

The detail of the horse is good and the chrome-plated brass bezel is the correct width. The bottom right antler only has three tynes whereas the original had four. [Editor: Petri was a subsidiary of VDM.]

Below is a later reproduction, not made by Petri or VDM. The bezel is narrower and the horse detail is poor. It does have the correct number of tynes (4) on the lower right antler but again the detail is poor. There are no identifying markings.


[Editor: the metal bezel of these reproductions is stainless steel, not chrome, and often it does not fit very well into the 356A wheel hub. Below are close-up photos of the crest area of the original VDM and the later low-quality reproduction button.

[Editor: There is one more complication. Flat 4, a Japanese company, makes reproduction horn buttons for vintage VWs. Except for the crest, they look much like the "original" 356 horn buttons made by VDM. Reproduction 356 horn button crests will fit into the Flat 4 horn button cases.]

Questions or comments, please email to Barry Lee Brisco, Website Technical Editor, barry.brisco@356registry.com

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