By Barry Lee Brisco, with contributions from Jim Beam, Ken Daugherty, Steve Fox, Linus Pauling Jr., and Charlie White
356 coupes had little provision for providing adequate supplies of unheated outside air into the cabin if the windows were closed and the heater was turned off. 356A/B models had fresh air vents in the footwells, but they worked poorly, as they were covered with carpet and relied on the speed of the car to force air through them. With the introduction of the T6 body style in September, 1962, a lever on the dash opened vents located in the trunk that forced air into the cabin, but still no power assist was used so the system only had an effect at speed, and even then the results were marginal.
On a rainy day where the ambient air temperature was not down in the chilly ranges, if the driver wished to keep the rain out by closing the windows, but wanted the heat off so he didn't boil, the result was usually a stuffy cabin with foggy windows. Of course, ma...
Besides the stock and aftermarket wheels, over the years a variety of customized wheels have been created, as shown here. Click any photo for a larger image, and in some cases multiple images and close ups.
Daryl Bruhl custom, Honduran Mahogany, for B/C
Submitted by Daryl Bruhl
Jack Arct, modified "C" VDM, cut to 15.5", white mahogany, w/ebony stripe and a flat finish.
Submitted by Jeff Gamble
Daryl Bruhl custom, Honduran Mahogany, B VDM
Submitted by Daryl Bruhl
Jack Arct, modified "C" VDM
Submitted by Jeff Gamble
Jack Arct, custom "B" VDM
Submitted by Wim Van Der Horst
Jack Arct, unsigned Nardi, rewooded in Gabon ebony
Submitted by Dave Brenny
Stock and Aftermarket Wheels >
For many 356 owners, a wood wheel adds that final classy touch to their car, and it feels great too. The factory generally only installed VDM wheels as original equipment, though Jim Shrager's research shows that starting with the B model, Les Leston wheels could also be ordered from Porsche. There were a variety of aftermarket wood steering wheels used on the 356 model, including wheels made by Nardi, Les Leston, Derrington, and others (custom wheels shown here). Click any photo for a larger image, and in some cases multiple images and close ups.
VDM, original Carrera 2 Submitted by Bruce Baker
VDM original, unrestored, Carrera 2 Submitted by Anthony P. West
VDM original Carrera 2 Submitted by Steve Terrien
VDM, late, "recreation" by Bruce Crawford Submitted by Michael Rivkin
VDM early, original, unrestored Submitted by Reinhold Plank
VDM, early, reproduction By Jeff Fellman
Nardi, original, flat, 16" Submitted...
Text by Barry Lee Brisco, photos provided by Ken Daugherty
At the introduction of the 356B model in Sep. 1959, the rear reflectors changed style and location. US export cars generally had a reflector that was positioned above the taillight. European cars generally had them below the bumper. According to Brett Johnson's Guide to Authenticity, "Either configuration was correct, it was a customer option". If the lower position was not used, the hole was filled with a slotted chrome screw (shown at right). In late 1960 vinyl plugs were used (shown at right in photo below). Apparently the lower hole was always drilled in the body, but the upper hole was only drilled if the reflector was going to be mounted above the bumper.
By Bruce Coen
I was able to locate the original holes on my 1959 Super Coupe. I used the baselines of the scripts and the edge of the hood openings as my reference points. Script locations for other years and models may vary!
Front "PORSCHE" : Top of baseline is 42mm or 1-5/8 inches below lowest edge of hood opening. Center line is at left edge of S in PORSCHE.
Rear "PORSCHE" : Top of baseline is 65mm or 2-1/2 inches below lowest edge of engine opening. Center line is at left edge of S in PORSCHE.
Rear "1600 SUPER" : Top of baseline is 93mm or 3-1/8 inches below lowest edge of engine opening. Center line is at right edge of 6 in 1600.
By Jim Schrager
[Editor: This article is reprinted from the 356 Registry magazine, Vol. 21 No. 3 Sep / Oct 1997]
There is probably nothing more subjective than the color of your Porsche. Our purpose here is not to recount the emotional feelings about colors, but rather to note some facts about colors and their effect on the value of your car.
Do certain colors hurt the value of my 356?
The color which universally seems to hurt is Togo Brown. I have seen some gorgeous Togo Brown 356's sit for months unsold, even when priced way below similar cars in any other color. No other color has quite the same negative effect on value.
Should I change from the Kardex color?
In general, the answer is no. You will usually maximize the value of your car by painting it the original color (except for brown). However, the new PCA restoration rules have defined an entire concours class where the Kardex is not viewed, so a new attitude about picking a color different from the Kardex may be dev...
Camber compensators were installed on Super 90's and offered as an option on 356C's. Porsche's objective with the camber compensator was to improve handling. Their formula was to use smaller rear torsion bars (23mm) combined with a type of spring called a camber compensator.
Whether or not they accomplished their objective is controversial. There are some who believe it improves handling as it was intended to do -- and there are others who believe it actually detracts from handling and should be removed. Presented here is information compiled from the 356 Registry Talk List and other sources.
From: Porsche Speedster: The Evolution of Porsche's Light-Weight Sports Car
The handling of the Super 90 was improved by the installation of a compensator spring. This was not a stabilizer bar, but a leaf spring fixed to the two ends of the rear axle that was supported under the case of the gearbox without being mounted to it. Because this leaf was under tension, ...
The Eternal Debate: More Rubber or Less Unsprung Weight?
One of the most frequently discussed issues on the 356Talk list is wheel size. One school of thought favors 5 1/2" wheels for their ability to put more rubbber on the road, while others prefer 4 1/2" wheels for their lower unsprung weight, original 165/15 tire size, and more nimble feel, especially at lower speeds. However, in the past few years, a number of 5.5" lightweight wheels have become available that are much lighter than any 4.5" wheel, negating that advantage. They are the "MgTEK" or "TECNO-Mg" wheel, a reproduction of the original "Technomagnesio" magnesium alloy wheel that for a time was sold by NLA, and aluminum billet wheels sold by West Coast Haus. (As of May 2008 neither of these wheel types were in production, but as of August 2010 a new version of the classic Technomagnesio is being sold out of Italy.)
In the chart below, drum brake wheels are listed first, lightest to heaviest, and then disc brak...
Based on contributions from John Audette, Stan Hanks, Linus Pauling Jr., Carl Swirsding, and many others
A frequently discussed topic is tires for our cars: what fits, similarity to original equipment, rim size, etc. Below is a list of tires that are used on the 356, and information on calculating tire size. If you have comments or additions, please email Barry Lee Brisco, Website Technical Editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The 356 Registry is making this information available for your use and does not make any specific recommendations on any information contained here. Please read the Full Disclaimer at the bottom of this page.
Comparative Tire Sizes
Sidewall Height (mm/inches)
% of Stock
4.5" or 5.5"
Michelin XZX (hard to find!), Michelin X Stop, BF Goodrich (3/4" whitewall), Dunlop D20, BF Goodrich Silvertown (2 1/4" whitewall), Nankang (Sears), ...
by Bertrand Picard - Illustrations by Peter Alves/Paul Greene
Speedster, T-5, pre-A, Convertible D, Carrera 2, SC, Roadster, 356 B, T-6, S-90, cabriolet, GT coupe, Continental.
All of the above are meaningful descriptions of various types of the Porsche 356 automobile. For the uninitiated however, they usually make no sense at all. To the untrained eye, all 356s look the same and determining whether one is looking at, say, a 1954 or a 1964 model is generally the result of a lucky guess rather than a logical conclusion following the observation of specific characteristics.
This article is meant as a "spotter's guide", i.e. it will hopefully enable you to pick up a number of major evolution reference points so that once you're on your own at a car show or at a 356 meet, you will be able to know what kind of 356 you're looking at and what model year it is. Please note that this article deals only with the street cars, and that any reference to a specific year means the model yea...