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...
Text and photos by Roy Lock
Porsche Literature and memorabilia prices have reached nose bleed territory recently. Most sellers are honest about their products, but we as buyers and connoisseurs must be on our guard. With all the hype, we must be forever vigilant for those who are less than honorable in their sales and hype.
Without the ability to compare them to originals, how do you determine the quality and originality of the item? Neophytes in the printed material arena have paid hundreds of dollars for the exact same item anyone can currently purchase at the local Porsche Dealership or reputable vendor for a mere pittance of what an online seller might charge for "NOS".
Photos of T6 B Driver's Manuals are being used here as the example, but this information applies to all 356 Driver's Manuals. Where there is a buck to be made, someone will find a way to make it.
So, let's examine some of the commonly used terms. But, before you venture into this market for ORIGINAL or NOS ...
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). N...
By Roy Smalley and Barry Lee Brisco
When describing 356 car parts, a variety of acronyms are tossed around, frequently without defining them, resulting in a great deal of confusion for newcomers and old-timers alike. This is an attempt to clarify the generally accepted meanings of "OEM", "NOS", "NIB".
OEM: "Original Equipment Manufacture", sometimes shortened to "OE". Most members of the 356 enthusiast community would agree that "original" implies the part in question was manufactured and intended for use in a specific 356 model, by Porsche or one of their licensees. Sometimes the part was only used by Porsche, though sometimes it was also used by other auto manufacturers (for example, the K2665 and K12627 front turn signal units used on the 356B and C were also used by Mercedes on the 190SL). OEM parts would include inventory overages as well as identical specification inventory manufactured to be use on subsequently produced automobiles and to provide replacements during the i...
Contributions by Tim Herman, Freddy Rabbatt, Bert Leemburg, edited by Barry Lee Brisco
The Cabriolet name was used by numerous automobile manufacturers in the mid-20th century to denote a high-end open automobile with a plush, weathertight, padded folding top, and the 356 Cabriolet model fit that description. It was the most expensive standard 356 model (other than rarities like the Carrera).
For those who liked the Cabriolet body style, but wanted an even more secure top while retaining the ability to "go topless" in the summer, Porsche offered another option: the "Hardtop" model. This was a Cabriolet without the soft top, but with a steel hardtop only. It could be kept on the car and only removed during the warmest months of the year.
The Hardtop was first available for the 1958 model year (meaning beginning September, 1957). It appears to have been more commonly ordered in Europe than in America. It came with larger rear interior panels than the Cabriolet, which needed shor...
By Tom Scott and Joris Koning
Shock Absorber Information from Tom Scott
F & S (Fichtel & Sachs) – Black, refers to a satin black, these were used on PreA, 1950 to 1955, all years except late (1954) 1500 Super. Stamping information in unknown.
Boge – Black, semi gloss black, these were used on Pre A, early 1600 T1 and all 1500 Carrera. Stamping information is unknown.
Boge – Brown, refers to a medium brown color, (however early 356 1500 Super and very early 356A, T1, were painted a terracotta brown), these were used from late 1954 to 1965, on late 1500 Super, 1600 Normal: 1956 (T1) to 1965. Stampings on the upper section included Porsche and manufacturer’s part number and date on later years. [Editor: others have described the Boge shock color as "mahogany".]
Koni – Orange, refers to an orangish/red, these were used starting in June 1958 thru 1962 1600 Super, Super 90 but were optional for all years 1958 thru 1965 and usually noted on the COA. Stampings included...
Contributed by Eric Cherneff, Steve Heinrichs and Roy Smalley, Edited by Barry Lee Brisco
S-90 Technical Data *The type 616/7 engine had modified cylinder hears with larger, less restrictive ports and an inlet valve diameter size of 40 mm. They used Solex 40 PII-4 carburetors like those on the 1500 Carrera 4-cam. These changes, plus an increased compression ratio to 9.0:1 and a redesigned muffler resulted in an output of 90 hp at 5500 rpm (with the tachometer redline changed to that figure). In addition, the Super 90 model came standard with Koni sport shocks, slightly larger 5.90 - 15 tires (instead of 5.60), 23 mm rear torsion bars [not 24.1 mm, Conradt makes an error on the size, see below] and the now infamous compensating spring at the rear. * Source: Dirk-Michael Conradt, Porsche 356: Driving in its Purest Form, page 130. The following text from Excellence Was Expected by Karl Ludvigsen (1977, pages 263 - 264) offers information about the compensating spring that differ fro...