Text and chart by Barry Lee Brisco
The chart below shows the various 356 models from 1950 to 1966 and the years they were produced. Coupes and cabriolets were produced in every year. Note that there is no "Pre-A" model, that is slang terminology sometimes used to label the cars before the 356A, but cars built before the 1956 model year were simply called a "356". The Speedster was introduced in late 1954, evolving into the 1959 Convertible D and then the B Roadster in 1960. The Carrera model is not shown on the chart, but that optional high-performance engine was available in almost all models from the 1956 model year up to the end of 356 production. See the Spotters Guide for details on how to differentiate between the various years and models.
Production Year vs. Model Year
Like most manufacturers, Porsche generally began building next years models after the August vacation break. So for example, cars built in September 1959 were considered to be 1960 model year cars. This...
Chart by Barry Lee Brisco based on data from Brett Johnson
This data is drawn from Brett Johnson's The 356 Porsche: A Restorer's Guide to Authenticity (1997). By showing the production numbers in chart form, it is immediately apparent that Porsche experienced extraordinary growth in almost every year, with slight production decreases in only three years: 1952, 1957, and 1962. A table showing the data is at the bottom of the page, below the chart. [Confused about the various 356 models? Go to 356 models by Year]
Analysis of the data shows that cabriolets comprised a higher percentage of overall production in the early years compared to later on. For example: 31% in 1951, 63% in 1952, 30% in 1953, yet only 11% in 1963 and 14% in 1964. The automotive market's love affair with open air motoring was clearly on the wane, and with the introduction of the 911 in late 1964 and the end of 356C production in early 1966 (the 10 Dutch Polezei cars), Porsche was for the first time without a...
Contributed by: Steve Proctor
Whether you do it yourself, or hire someone else to do it, it's vitally important to thoroughly inspect that 356 of your dreams before you hand over your hard earned cash. Print out the following Pre-Purchase Check List and take it along when you do your inspection. You may want to devise a scoring method, weighing things proportionate to their importance to you.
Kardex or Certificate of Authenticity available?
Folder of records / receipts / maintenance?
Straightness of body (sight down sides)
Evenness of all door / panel gaps
Evidence of repairs
Operation/fit of top and side curtains
Fit of top boot/tonneau
Condition / originality of wheels/hubcaps/tires (date stamp / manufacturer)
Presence and correctness of deco trim
Smoothness, detail of lower rocker panels
Smoothness, detail of wheel well arches
Reflectors in place
Type of bumpers/overriders/guards (correct?)
Text and photos by John Chatley
The first three photos show where to find the engine serial number, case casting number, engine type, and case matching numbers for each piece of a three-piece 356 engine case. The fourth photo shows where to look on the underside of the transmission housing for the transmission number, transmission type, and transmission build date, as shown in the fifth photo (644 transmissions) and sixth photo (716 and 744 transmissions). These locations are consistent for all 356 models, though early 356s with two-piece case engines are somewhat different.
[Editor: if anyone can provide photos of two-piece engine cases showing the relevant numbers, as well as earlier 356 transmissions, I will publish them here.]
By Barry Lee Brisco
The 356 Fahrgestell Nr or "chassis number", also known (incorrectly) as the VIN*, can be found in three places on the car in its complete five or six digit form (partial numbers are found in other locations not described here). Photos of these three locations in a 1959 356A coupe are shown below. This is a Reutter-built car: 356s built by other coachbuilders may be different (see end of this article for more information).
Below: on the trunk floor just behind the spare tire strap loop (remove the spare tire and the rubber trunk mat to see it)
Click to see photos of the trunk floor number in a 1955 356 and in a 1962 T6 car.
Below: next to "Fahrgestell Nr" in the upper right corner of the large aluminum plaque that is riveted to the trunk floor between the front right fender inner wall and the side of the gas tank. More information about the smaller "MODELL" plaque. These were only used in some 1959, 1960, and maybe 1961 cars.
Below: on the Karosserie (coa...