Within the triad of Porsche factory technical information, the Workshop Manuals and Parts Manuals formed the base. These two manuals were openly sold to all at local Porsche dealerships and continually updated and revised. Service Bulletins (SB’s) are the third component of technical documentation from the Porsche Factory. SB’s distributed only to dealerships and contained ancillary information which did not appear in the two sister manuals. Many were destroyed or discarded after use. Because SB’s were only sent to authorized Porsche dealerships, they are less known and to this day are mystical and in some cases, folkloric in stature. The surviving original SB’s are rare. However, because these did not share the notoriety of the other two legs of the triad, SB’s are not as valuable except to connoisseur collectors.
SB content ranged from administrative to technical in nature. Each covers a subject of a timely nature. Some gave lengthy descriptions of reasons for change or inspections, others dealt with simple tasks as ordering binders or notices of stolen cars. Early SB’s consists of two sets of bulletins. One set written for the German market, and one set written for “Aboard” or “Export.” Each provided timely material to support dealer operations. In many cases, the SB’s were discarded after the model run ended as most information was added tp the Workshop or the Parts Manuals.
Physically, early SB’s were printed on cheap pulp A4 (8.3” X 11.7”) paper. The overall quality of the printing was poor, at times barely legible. In some cases, photographs or drawings were inserted to support the SB. Later SB’s were printed with color borders. With age, they yellowed. As with all pulp products, they disintegrated with constant use. Early SB’s are distinguishable by the watermark on every page. On the top of the first sheet, “PORSCHE” was preprinted prior to the actual information on the SB. Later 356 SB’s are surrounded by color borders.
With the advent of Porsche Car Distributors, the paper quality improved, physical size changed to “letter,” and the paper color was changed to yellow or green for SB’s. The logo changed several times during the post 356 production period. The logo changes reflected changes in distributorship, however the mailing address did not change, it remained at 11300 Playa Street, Culver City, California. 356 SB’s were continually issued into the late 60’s and early 70’s.
Throughout the life of the SB’s, the numbering system was revised several times. Initially, it comprised of a sequential number and the year of issue, i.e. 2/55, this signified the second SB issued in 1955. This system was used until the end of 1959. In 1960, the system was changed to incorporate 3 additional categories. The letters “M”, “H”, and “F” along with the no letter were added to the number. Each category had it’s own sequential numbering system. “M” was used for motor and clutch; “H” for transmission; “F” for chassis, body and electrical installations; and no letter was administrative bulletins.
SB’s were inserted into binders. The binder on the left is for original 356 SB’s. The binder on the right was used for SB’s from the “modern” era (two photos courtesy of Jon Bunin).
Below is an example of an early pulp paper SB as it appears today. Note the severe yellowing around the edges and on the paper, it is very fragile. Print quality is poor at best.
The paper manufacturer’s watermark can clearly been seen when held to a light source. This watermark is on every page.
Later SB’s have color borders to signify which categories the SB resided, i.e. Blue for “M”, brown for “H”, and green for “F”. These SB’s did not have a watermark and were printed on “better” quality paper. The color borders reflected separate categories. These SB’s were issued by the factory; Porsche AG
Once Porsche Cars Distributors Inc. became the distributors, the originating location and format changed. These bulletins were printed in the United States. The color changed to yellow and the size was changed to “letter”; 8.5 X 11 inches. For the purpose of identification and categorizing, these bulletins formed the beginnings of the modern era of service information. Current bulletins are no longer printed and are only online and available for a fee.
No watermark is evident. The logo color is black or burgundy and black for the text. Paper quality improved and was more durable. Print quality improved.
Later versions of these SB’s were printed on yellow paper but with different logos reflecting the changes in distributorship of Porsches into the Americas.
Porsche continued to issue bulletins with a wealth of 356 information into the early 70’s.
In 1972, the paper color changed to green with the distributorship change to Volkswagen Pacific Inc.
The history of the logos which appeared on SB’s reflects the history of Porsche in the Americas. Along with the changes of distributors, came the requisite name changes. Though throughout the “modern” period, the headquarters address remained 11300 Playa Street, Culver City, California 90230.
Since SB’s were treated as disposable documentation, a complete listing of SB’s does not exist. Charlie White’s website has the most complete listing of the SB’s. This is considered the most complete compilation.