NOTE: This article, originally printed in 1989, is still very much true in that Vic Skirmants is still looking for transmission numbers and data. If you have information to contribute, please send it along to: Vic Skirmants T
356 Registry Technical Column, Reprinted from Vol. 16, #1 (1992)
Vic Skirmants, Editor
Way back in Vol. 13, #4 (Apr/May `89). I asked for transmission serial number data. Here's a repeat of the request. I would like to ask the readers to send me information on their transmissions, as well as the chassis number of the car if the trans is believed to be original. I can use all the data possible. Including empty trans cases out in the chicken coop. I can't promise a complete list to every respondent, but I can try to answer your questions as to what your gearbox really is. With enough input, I might even write an article explaining some of the mysteries.
Now for the hard part. On original, non-show cars the numbers I want you to dig up will be under a lot of...
Q:What does the "P*" on the third piece engine number mean?
A: Almost all motors from the factory start with the "P*" (P-star) stamp. Exceptions are the "KD*" (see following), and the blank 3rd piece replacement pieces which were sold as replacement parts and installed by service centers and shops.
Q:What does the "KD*" before my engine number mean?
A: The KD means, roughly translated, "Customer Service", in other words, your engine was rebuilt at the factory--almost as good as new! We have no statistics as to how many KD engines there are, but they are not uncommon, especially on European Delivery cars, which were frequently taken by their owners back to the factory for service, or the engines may have been sent by European Porsche Dealers to the factory for rebuilds.
Q:What do the other stamps my engine number mean, and how can I find out ?
A: There are the "type number" stamps, the "case casting" stamp, and, internally the "date stamp". Details about the date stamp and ...
By Edgar Bechtle, Martin Boecker, Dave Metz, Bill Simmeth, Wil Mittelbach, Wulf Moennich
open (as used on fuel petcock)
axle load rear
axle load front
build year, or year of manufacture
the tire set (or type and size of tires) on a vehicle
type of yarn for square weave carpet
car price (similar to MSRP)
chassis number (VIN)
full leather upholstery
extra cost (Mehrpreis is sometimes abbreviated: "Mehrpr.")
gross vehicle weight
leather strap(s), for luggage in rear, luggage rack, or spare tir
ventilated wheels (verchr is the abbreviation for "verchromt" ...
By Dr. Brett Johnson
These are what some of the words on the Kardex mean (how to get the Kardex info on a COA). Many, if not most of these are generally not filled in. I am aware of three different types, which have slightly differing information. The earliest ones have the following:
Fahrgest.-Nr.: Chassis number
Motor-Nr.: Engine number
Getriebe-Nr.: Gearbox number
Zündschloß-Nr.: Ignition switch number/shift lock here also
Schlüssel-Nr.: Key number (door on early cars)/glovebox key here also
Kar. angel. am: Date the car was invoiced
ausgel. am : Delivery date
Motor-Änd.-Nr.: Replacement engine number
Getriebe-Änd.-Nr.: Replacement gearbox number
Farbe: Exterior color
Garantie bis: Warranty expiration
Armaturenbrett: Dashboard (color)
Sonderausführung: Special work performed
By Brett Johnson
What is a Kardex?
The Kardex is physically a card which resides in a card file in Ludwigsburg, Germany. The original purpose of this card was to be a warranty record for work performed on the car at the factory. It was not the build sheet, but has ended up being the only useful and accessible document relating to the individual 356. List of German terms found on the Kardex and English translations.
What's on a Kardex?
Most cards contain chassis number, engine number, gearbox number, paint and interior colors and occasionally other information, such as options. They generally also contained the name of the importer, dealer and/or first owner. The information on the Kardex is inconsistent and many cards are blank, except for the chassis number. The Kardex is the basis for Porsche's Certificate of Authenticity program (see following). The Certificate of Authenticity may also contain the production completion date and rarely, the suggested retail price of the ...
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
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 ...