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...
By Brad Ripley
Reprinted from the 356 Registry Magazine Volume 19-2, by kind permission of Gordon Maltby
In my daily work, I often get questions on the phone about headlights, bulbs, and lenses which usually come from lack of knowledge and incorrectly assembled light units. Therefore, I hope the following information will correct any confusion and help you make your 356 more authentic.
"Sealed Beam" Headlights
These units are by far the most prevalent on 356s in the U.S. and still are the only (strictly) legal lights allowed. The key words, Sealed Beam, refer to the high and low beam filaments sealed inside the reflector and the lens (see drawings below). Porsche Kardex entries are indicated as "sealed beam Scheinwerfer Einsatze." The sealed beam design was a U.S. invention and came into being about 1940. It was thought that the reflector would never go dull because it was entirely sealed. Note that the lens of this unit focuses the light, not the clear glass cover...
HISTORY OF THE 356
There are many books in print which chronicle the history of the Porsche family, company, factory and cars. Dr. Bill Block of "Block's Books: The Auto Fanatic's Choice" has most, if not all of these in stock. Write him for a book list. He'll make recommendations, too, as he reads the books he sells.
Timeline for the 356
Here's a very rough timeline of the development of the 356, compiled from a variety of sources. "Driving in it's Purest Form", "Excellence was Expected", "Speedster" and "Porsche : 356 & Rs Spyders" are all recommended for the Porsche 356 enthusiast and those interested in the Porsche history 1948-1966. See also the Porsche North America corporate website from which much of the below material came. The student of Porsche and 356 history is strongly encouraged to seek out the above books for a detailed history of the car, the company and the amazing individuals who brought us the 356.
1948: Gmünd, Austria. The Porsc...