By Chuck House and Brett Johnson, edited by Barry Brisco
Chuck House: Here are my observations after looking at lots of original cars. It appears complicated but there is a general rule (and due to the many different combinations of interior/exterior color and customer options, there can always be exceptions to the general rule!).
On A cars the garnish rails are painted and should approximately match the dashboard top color vinyl. However the dash top color is not always obvious and very often was different than the rest of the upholstery color. The key seems to be whether the upholstery color was light or dark. Darker upholstery had a matching dash top and the garnish rails approximately matched (although usually a darker shade, hence the "complimentary color". Red is an example of this). However, if the upholstery was light, say tan or light grey and the car a darker color, the dash top was a dark color complimentary to the car's color and the garnish rails were painted the co...
By Steve Douglas and Barry Lee Brisco
On the inner surface of the glove box door on all coupes and cabriolets built after 1956 are three elastic bands (date not certain, VINs 56175, 56472 and 56836 do not have the upholstered panel or elastic bands). When the cars were first purchased, the bands served to secure three items: a small plastic bottle of glycerin, a package of fuses, and usually a plastic document pouch.
The glycerin bottle was placed so that the top was "up" when the door was closed. It is sometimes mistakenly stated that the glycerin was intended to be used on the rubber door and trunk seals to keep them soft and pliable. While it may have functioned effectively in that application, in fact the small paper booklet that came attached to the glycerin bottle makes clear that its intended purpose was to keep water from freezing in the door lock tumblers, serving as a form of anti-freeze and a inhibiting corrosion, as the lock tumblers are brass. One drop on the key an...
Text by Barry Lee Brisco
A treasured item for many 356 owners is an original Porsche key fob. New owners were presented with one when they purchased their car "back in the day". As illustrated by the photos on this page, they consisted of two thin pieces of leather, cut straight at the top and rounded at the bottom, held together with four small rivets (flat or rounded), between which passed a chain with a ring on one end and a curiously twisted piece of wire on the other. The leather was embossed with the Porsche factory crest on both sides, or less commonly only one side with the Reutter or Drauz coachworks crest on the other side. A few fobs are blank on one side, and some believe that these were simply manufacturing mistakes. On the inside, the leather was always lined with a very thin, satin-like material according to Scott Tong, who has a collection of original fobs.
The leather pieces came in a variety of colors: black, brown, red, blue, and rarely, tan and green. The int...
What You Can, and Cannot, Do With Vintage Plates in California
Text by Barry Lee Brisco
A vintage license plate can be the crowning touch of authenticity on a classic 356, and can be legallly used in California on all 356s (with some effort, as explained below). Few 356 owners are lucky enough to have the original plates on their car. Whether you find a set of well-worn old plates for cheap at a parts swapmeet or purchase a pristine restored pair for serious money, the real challenge can be dealing with your state DMV office and getting permission to legally mount them on your car.
This article is the beginning of what will hopefully grow to be a lengthy "how to" covering as many US states as possible, offering detailed information about how to legally use vintage license plates on your 356. Let's start with California, since there are more 356 Registry members there than anywhere else. I've gone through the vintage plate registration process twice in that state: once on a 59 ...
By Barry Lee Brisco
Starting with the 356A in late 1955, Porsche used a plastic plate to cover the hole in the center of the dash if the new owner did not order a factory radio. Sometimes called "radio delete plates", the A and B parts books list the plates but do not show color options. However, three different colors are known to have been used: black, grey, and beige. The expert consensus seems to be that the beige plates were used on the 356A model to go with the beige knobs. The uncommon grey plates may have been used to go with the rarer grey dash knobs, which are sometimes found on T2 Speedsters. Starting with the 1960 model year, the black plates were used due to the change to black dash knobs in all models of the 356B. The 356C also used the black plates. [Original beige plate shown above right, photo courtesy of Freddy Rabbat]
The original beige plates had gold lettering, as shown in the photo of Freddy Rabbat's original plate (above right and bottom of page). The rar...
By Barry Lee Brisco
Here is a 356 mystery for you: when facing the rear of the car, decklid closed, visible at the upper left corner (rarely on the right) of the rain shield below the decklid grill, you may see some letters stamped into the metal (three instances so far of a letter and a number together on late B cars, see photo below right, and one instance of 3 letters). They are completely separate from the 3 digit VIN numbers stamped on the upper right corner of the rain shield. What do they signify? At this time, no one seems to know, but they were surely placed there for some reason.
Jim Kellogg has done some research on this and collected about thirty examples. He has only found them on late A and T5 B (1960 and 1961) coupes, but not on T6 cars. However, two T6 B coupe owners have reported to me that their original decklids have them.
Interestingly, it seems that 1959 Convertible Ds, built by Drauz, do not have these stamped letters, and so far no Karmann-built cars have...
By Eric Cherneff, Bruce Coen and Barry Lee Brisco
Many 356 enthusiasts are aware that European-spec cars were imported into the United States when new. Fewer enthusiasts have heard of the 356A "European" badged cars, which are an often misunderstood rarity. The "European" badge did not signify European delivery — in fact, it couldn't be further from the truth!
The 356A model was introduced in the fall of 1955, and some had a side script that proudly identified the car as a "European". This name was instigated by Max Hoffman, the exclusive importer of Porsches into the USA who felt that Americans didn't relate to cars that only had model numbers. Previous Porsches had simply been called the "356", which was the Porsche internal design number.
First, the "Continental"
Hoffman was convinced that Americans wanted to buy cars with names like "BelAir" or "Fairlane". So, in the spirit of American marketing, Porsche began putting a "Continental" script on the fenders of 1955 model y...
Photos submitted by Ken Daugherty — Text by Ken Daugherty and Barry Lee Brisco, with additional material courtesy of Marco Marinello and Jim Breazeale
Note: replacement decals for Fram, H Filter, and Mann oil canisters are available from NLA and Stoddards.
The photos of original, unmolested H Filter, Fram, and Mann oil filter cannisters shown on this page illustrate how to identify them and how the decals were placed. At the bottom of the page are several photos of restored cannisters with reproduction decals, as well as photos of an early Fram that could have been used by 356 owners before Porsche made oil filters standard (perhaps in late 1954, according to Marco Marinello).
The colors of the cannisters varied, but it is common to see H Filters painted silver with a matching or black top, Frams painted orange or silver with a black or matching top, and the Mann painted green. More detailed information is shown below the photos.
Questions or comments, pl...
By Wyatt Blankingship, Ron LaDow, Wil Mittelbach, Robert Paxton, Bill Romano, Roy Smalley, Bill Waite, John Willhoit, edited by Barry Lee Brisco
[Editor] The question of fan shroud colors and the colors of various engine parts is frequently asked. After several decades of car parts being painted and re-painted, and original paint fading, it is often difficult to know for sure what the factory color really was. There is a consensus that at least starting with the T2 cars, Normal fan shrouds were gloss black and Super shrouds were silver (T1 and earlier shrouds were gloss black only, no other colors). Brett Johnson is of the opinion that the T2 Supers were the first to have silver shrouds because they had the same carburetors that the Normals had (not true on earlier engines) and it was easier for owners and more likely, factory employees to tell them apart. The first T6 Super engine shrouds in late 1961 may have been the light grey color used for the S90 when it was introduced ...
By Charlie White, Bruce Baker, Martin Boecker, Frank Earle, Alan Klingen, Joris Koning, Joost van der Velden
Charlie White: My 65-C Coupe has the fog light switch to the right of the clock. The position near the ignnition switch is shown in a 1962 Service Bulletin that applies to 356-B's.
The fog light and switch for 356-B T-5's is first covered in Factory Service Bulletin SB 41/59, December 1959, in which it says: "To mount the pull switch (spare part No. 644.613.501.01) a hole of 5/16 diameter must be drilled through the dash on the same level left of the ignition switch at a center distance of approximately 1 9/16 inches." Note the part number.
Subsequently, in Factory Service Bulletin SB F 1/62, it says: ""When installing the pull switch, spare part No. 644.613.501.01, for fog lamps which is located above the ignition/starter switch....." Again, note the part number which is the same as in the earlier bulletin. Below is SB F 1/62. Note in the drawing that the switch has t...