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Making the 356 Safer: LED Taillights

September 23, 2010 | Safety & Driving | 3 Comments
By Barry Lee Brisco By modern standards, stock 356 brake lights and rear running lights are weak: difficult to see during the day, not particularly bright at night, and placed rather low. Today's drivers are used to very bright rear lights placed three to four feet above the road surface, and it's entirely possible they may not even notice your 356 brake lights when you really need them to. The unhappy result of their inattention could be a crunched rear end or even a totaled 356. Happily, there is a solution to this problem. LED array lights are now available in several forms and offer significantly greater brightness than incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs that simply plug into the 356 taillight assembly sockets can be found in both 6V and 12V, for either BA15s (teardrop) or BA15d (beehive) socket types ,and they generate no heat. To my eye these bulbs appear to be about twice as bright as the stock bulb. They work fine with the stock flasher relay (no need to change to a modern ele...

Roll Bars in Street Cars

September 23, 2010 | Safety & Driving | 0 Comments
By Bruce Baker, Bud Osbourne, Victor Wild, and Barry Lee Brisco Roll bars installed in 356s that are only driven on the street, while looking undeniably cool, do raise the question of occupant safety, but perhaps not in the obvious way. Yes, they can prevent the roof from collapsing onto the occupants in a rollover accident, but they can also inflict lethal head injuries in more typical accidents (like rear enders), since they are located close to the occupants heads and 356 seats are very low compared to modern cars. On race cars, helmets and roll bar padding are mandatory, protecting the skull from injury. But when was the last time you saw a 356 driver wearing a helmet for daily driving in his roll bar-equipped vintage Porsche? What follows is taken from a discussion initiated on 356Talk, with additional comments by veteran 356er and racer Bruce Baker. It is a cautionary tale for those who have roll bars installed in their "street only" 356s. This article is not about how...

Making the 356 Safer

September 22, 2010 | Safety & Driving | 0 Comments
The Tradeoffs Between Saving Your Butt and Originality By Barry Lee Brisco The 356 was designed long before government safety regulations placed significant restrictions on automobile engineering, and by current standards it is rather lacking in features aimed at occupant safety. Despite this, modern 356 owners cheerfully look forward to hopping in their sporting machine and hitting the highway, jousting for space with two-ton, eight-foot high SUVs that are literally armored with protective devices, vehicles that could roll over a 356 and barely notice the impact. There are a number of ways that the 356 can be modified to improve the safety of the occupants, bmut clearly it cannot even approach the safety of a modern car no matter what is done to it. Some modifications are hardly noticeable and not particularly expensive, while others can alter the character of the car so much that it begins to look like something designed not by Porsche but by a disparate group of back yard h...

Tire Safety & Date Codes

November 13, 2009 | Safety & Driving | 0 Comments
By Barry Lee Brisco If your tires are over 9 years old, replace them! Old tires can look essentially new if the car is kept indoors and driven infrequently. But 10-year old tires with only 1,000 miles on them are more dangerous than 2-year old tires with 20,000 miles on them. To determine the age of your tires, look at the date code on their sidewall. Before 2000, the date code had three digits. Since 2000, it has had four. The date code is found in a marking that follows one of the following formats: From 2000 on: DOT XXXX XXX XXXXLast four digits: date code (week / year of manufacture)First two characters: manufacturing plant identification markThe other characters are left at the manufacturer's discretion. Before 2000: DOT XXXX XXXX XXX (older three-digit date code format)Last three digits: date code (two for the week / one for the year)First two characters: manufacturing plant identification markThe other characters are left at the manufacturer's discretion. Example: DOT ...