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...
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 ...