The cars were arranged in groups corresponding to each of the signs
whose text appears below. These groups were positioned in the same sequence
as the signs on this page, allowing visitors to easily see the differences
between adjacent groups.
The Porsche 356 was produced from 1948 through 1965. While its
overall shape remained constant, the 356 was continuously refined
during those years. Many of the changes affected the car's
mechanical components and were not visible, but there were many
visible changes as well.
The Midwest 356 Club has assembled a collection of examples from
throughout the 356 production run for today's show. We have
arranged our cars in chronological order to form a living time line
of the evolution of the 356, and we invite you to walk through this
exhibit and see the process for yourself.
As you make your way through the exhibit, you will find signs posted
to mark the model years in which significant changes to the 356 were
introduced. These signs will tell you where to look on the cars for
the specific changes made in those years.
Porsche 356 "Pre-A" cars
The first Porsche cars were hand-built in Gmünd, Austria,
with aluminum bodies.
Production of steel-bodied cars began in 1950 in Stuttgart,
Germany, with two-piece windshields, 1100 cc Volkswagen engines,
and wooden dipsticks for measuring the fuel level.
By 1953, a one-piece "bent" windshield was in use, maximum
engine capacity had increased to 1500 cc, and a hand-pumped
pneumatic fuel gauge was present.
The 1955 coupes and cabriolets were badged "Continental", a
name that Porsche withdrew after Ford filed suit for trademark
356A T1: Retooled for a curved windshield
Bent windshield replaced with modern curved piece.
Overrider tubes added to tops of front and rear bumpers for
Rocker panels flattened and decorated with aluminum trim
Wider, smaller-diameter wheels fitted: 4-1/2 X 15 inches.
Floor lowered--wooden floor boards no longer fitted.
Dashboard redesigned with new combination oil
Starter control incorporated into ignition switch.
Dark cloth headliner replaced with white perforated vinyl.
1500 cc pushrod engines increased to 1600 cc.
356A T2: Improvements to the A
Paired beehive tail lights replaced with one-piece
License plate / backup light moved from above plate to
Rear bumper overrider tube separated into two pieces.
Exhaust pipes routed through bumper guards (except on
Front turn signals mounted on wedge-shaped bases.
Speedometer repositioned to right of tachometer (to scare
1300 cc engines discontinued.
1600 cc engines equipped with Zenith carburetors.
Note: some of these changes were phased in during the 1957
356B T5: Restyled to survive in U.S. traffic
Front and rear bumpers and headlights raised several inches.
Air grilles added below front bumper to cool front brakes.
New backup light, license plate lights and rear reflectors.
Front quarter vent windows added to coupe.
Brake drums redesigned with radial cooling fins.
Black steering wheel, shift knob and switches.
Combination turn signal / high beam switch.
Individual folding backs for rear seats.
Optional "Super 90" 1600 cc pushrod engine, 90 hp, with
356B T6: Refuel without opening the trunk
Engine lid equipped with two air intake grilles instead of
Rear window of coupe enlarged.
Fuel tank lowered and moved forward.
External fuel filler in right front fender.
Shape of front end of trunk lid squared off for easier
access to spare tire.
Fresh air intake for cabin ventilation added to front cowl
Fuse box moved from under dashboard to rear wall of trunk.
356C T6: The final and most refined 356
Brakes upgraded from drums to four-wheel disks.
New wheels with flatter hub caps.
Heater control on floor changed from knob to lever.
Passenger grab handle on dash changed from metal to plastic.
"Console" added to dashboard below radio.
60 hp "Normal" engine discontinued, leaving two models:
356C (75 hp, Zenith carburetors) and 356SC (95 hp, Solex
Produced concurrently with first 911 models, 1965.
The Speedster, Convertible D and Roadster
Light weight, minimal equipment, built to sell at a low
Removable windshield with bright-metal frame.
Unlined convertible top with marginal weather protection at
Unique dashboard with hooded binnacle, ignition switch not
on left side.
Aluminum trim strips on sides of car, extending through door
Speedster (1954-1958): low windshield, thin bucket seats,
Convertible D (1959): taller windshield, regular seats,
Roadster (1960-1962): 356B version, new name, same features
That covered the 356s, but Tom McGinty brought his 550 replica to the
event, so we made one more sign for it.
Porsche's first purpose-built racing car
Approximately 93 of these cars were built between 1953 and
The 550 won its class at Le Mans every year it was entered
Its four-cam engine was offered in 356 Carrera models
beginning in 1955.
Movie star James Dean was driving a 550 in his fatal crash
Original 550s are prohibitively expensive--this is a Beck
replica, a highly regarded car in its own right.