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Hand Throttle FAQ

September 26, 2010 | Troubleshooting & Repair

Contributed by Various 356Talk Contributors

 


Hand throttle location in A coupes and cabs

Arrow shows hand throttle location in T5 and T6 B coupes and cabs

Arrow shows hand throttle location to the right of the ignition, in Speedsters, Ds, and T5 B Roadsters

Arrow shows hand throttle location in T6 B "twin grill" Roadsters (photo courtesy of T6 Roadster owner Tom Farnam)

View behind dash of A coupe showing hand throttle cable housing
The 356 hand throttle was introduced with the A model in 1956, replacing the choke used in the pre-A cars. In coupes and cabriolets it is located between the tach and speedometer, while on Speedsters, Convertible Ds and Roadsters it is to the right of the ignition switch (which is to the right of the steeering wheel, opposite coupes and cabriolets). By modern standards, the hand throttle is an anachronism, and there are regular questions on 356Talk regarding it's origin and use. Here are answers to these questions:

Q. Can the hand throttle be used as a cruise control?

Q. How do you remove and re-chrome the hand throttle bezel?

Q. My hand throttle cable was cut off by a previous owner, can I splice a new cable on?

Q. Why were hand throttles discontinued? Was there an engine change at the same time that precluded the need for them?

Q. When were hand throttles discontinued?

Q. My hand throttle is missing or in terrible condition: where can I buy a replacement?





Q. Can the hand throttle be used as a cruise control?

Brian Adams — Yes, unless of course you need to stop in a hurry. If you ever have to slam on the brakes instantly, as a pure reaction, not a conscious decision, you will be lowering your margin of survival considerably for obvious (I would have thought) reasons. If you think you can grab for the hand throttle or ignition key and/or also disengage the clutch while at the same time braking hard and steering out of trouble, you are Stirling Moss. Ever had a throttle stick open and felt what it's like to brake against that? Even if you want to chance using it as a "cruise control", it will only maintain a somewhat constant speed on level road. Over hills and dales, you will gain lots of speed downhill, and slow way down going up hills.

Bruce Baker — I am 6'3" and on a long trip my leg would get stiff, so ONLY THEN would I use the hand throttle to keep going while I turned/bent my leg to loosen it up. Now, I stop, get something to drink, eat, pee, gas up every two hours of a long trip and still use the cruise control of a modern car. I DO NOT use the cruise control my truck has while towing my Speedster! (He added a cruise control to his '65 C Coupe, 'back when.')

Others also wrote that they used the hand throttle as a cruise control, but many feel that using the hand throttle as a "cruise control" is a dangerous practice.


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How do you remove and re-chrome the hand throttle bezel?

Tom Scott — Talk to your chrome plater and ask if he can plate the bezel while it is attached to the bowden covering. If he can't, or won't, carefully cut the bezel tube where it joins the bowden using a Dremel or similar. After the bezel is plated re-attach it to the bowden using a Mig welder using very small welding beads. Not exactly factory original but close enough since there are no new replacements available.

Bruce Baker — The chrome end can be taken off the cable sleeve easily by drilling the depressions/"dimples" on the 'neck' and relieving the swaging. It is a mechanical interference joint and you need only a very small drill bit. Twist it and pull it apart. The most important thing for the plater to be careful of is the inner spring wire and the clearances inside the bezel/integral mechanism so reassembly and operation is back to 'normal,' (whatever that was) upon reassembly. While apart, check, clean and lube the wire and tube. Wirebrush everything...threads and ends. Use appropriate electrical shrink tubing to cover the sleeve if needed while apart, too (gouges, scuff-throughs, etc). I use some superglue and a dab of epoxy to hold the two pieces together (rechromed end and sleeve) and haven't had one come apart yet.

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My hand throttle cable was cut off by a previous owner, can I splice a new cable on?

Lee Whistler — Go to a motorcycle shop and ask for a cable splicer and a piece of cable. Motorcycles use them all over the place.

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Why were hand throttles discontinued? Was there an engine change at the same time that precluded the need for them?

Mike Robbins — The story put out by Porsche of America Corp [factory service branch at the time] was that too many people had been starting their outdoor parked cars in the winter, setting the hand throttle to a high idle , then going back in for another cup of coffee. As the engine warmed up the "idle" speed increased dramatically and would score the cylinders because the oil hadn't warmed up enough yet. This is somewhat counter to the recommendation that the best way to warm up an engine is to drive off gently. The difference is that one is a no-load condition and the other is under load.

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When were hand throttles discontinued?

Charlie White — While going through some recently acquired 356 literature, I found a "Sales Department Circular Letter", #62/4 dated September 14, 1962, which states:

"Beginning with chassis number

Karmann Coupe 211.430 Reutter Coupe 121.500 Reutter Cabriolet 157.200

the hand throttle has been omitted from our cars."

According to Brett Johnson — the parts manual says that they were discontinued at Reutter coupe 121501, Karmann coupe 211430 and cabriolet 157201 (late 1962 calendar year).

Dick Weiss reports that according to the 'B' supplement parts book, section 3/1A, page 4 and dated VIII 9/64, the bearing plate #6 (and associated components, he assumes) for the hand throttle was no longer installed from these T6 356B chassis numbers; Reutter coupe 121501, Karmann coupe 211430, and Cabriolet 157201.

Those numbers are all after T6 "twin grill" Roadster production ended, so they should have come with hand throttles.

Jim at EASY states: "Actually, most T6Bs have hand throttles. They were discontinued with the advent of 356C. There are no changes to a 356C engine that makes them less in need of a hand throttle."

"Tony Aguirre" reports that his 1963 Karmann coupe #211208 has a hand throttle; "Tom356c" writes " My 1964 sunroof coupe # 128894 has a hand throttle" and Tom Farnam believes that "the T-6 Roadsters were all built with hand throttles." Bill Cooper says that his 1963 Karmann coupe #211589 has no hand throttle. Alex D. Mestas states that his Karmann Coupe 211259 with a COA date of 08/01/62 has a hand throttle. Barry Lee Brisco owned 1964 Reutter coupe 126966 which had no hand throttle. Stuart Zeh notes that "My 63 Carrera 2 doesn't have a hand throttle." Roy Smalley reports that 1963 S-90 coupes 210016 and 213914 both had hand trottles from when they were new.

[Ed: as you can see, there is some confusion about when the hand throttle was discontinued, but the Porsche factory sources quoted above seem to confirm that the change was made late in the 1963 356B model year (even if the B supplement parts book doesn't agree exactly with the "Sales Department Circular Letter" from September 1962). However, it is certainly possible that dealers or owners could have installed them after that time.]

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Q. My hand throttle is missing or in terrible condition: where can I buy a replacement?

Barry Lee Brisco — You cannot buy a new or reproduction replacement hand throttle, you will have to search for a used one and restore it. They are not easy to find!

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2 Comments

Profile missing thumb
Eric (Bird) Huffman
November 23, 2017 at 4:08 AM
My 62 Karmann Coupe #210818 has a hand throttle But unlike the picture posted above it is on the left side while the right knob controls the headlights. I received an original 356 B owners manual print dated 9/1962 the photo inside numbering all the items and there usages on the dash and floor shows NO throttle knob on the dash and nothing is mentioned about it anywhere in the book.
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Mervyn Hyde
March 16, 2019 at 7:19 AM
Where is the hand throttle knob on a RHD car?