Cruise Night 2005 - Signs

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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.

Porsche 356

Development Milestones

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.

Model 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 infringement.

Model years:


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 U.S. market.
  • Rocker panels flattened and decorated with aluminum trim strips.
  • 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 temperature/fuel gauge.
  • Starter control incorporated into ignition switch.
  • Dark cloth headliner replaced with white perforated vinyl.
  • 1500 cc pushrod engines increased to 1600 cc.

Model years:


356A T2: Improvements to the A

  • Paired beehive tail lights replaced with one-piece "tear-drop" fixtures.
  • License plate / backup light moved from above plate to below.
  • Rear bumper overrider tube separated into two pieces.
  • Exhaust pipes routed through bumper guards (except on Carreras).
  • Front turn signals mounted on wedge-shaped bases.
  • Speedometer repositioned to right of tachometer (to scare passengers?).
  • 1300 cc engines discontinued.
  • 1600 cc engines equipped with Zenith carburetors.
  • Note: some of these changes were phased in during the 1957 model year.

Model years:


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 Solex carburetors.

Model years:


356B T6: Refuel without opening the trunk

  • Engine lid equipped with two air intake grilles instead of one.
  • 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 below windshield.
  • Fuse box moved from under dashboard to rear wall of trunk.

Model years:


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 carburetors).
  • Produced concurrently with first 911 models, 1965.

Special models:


The Speedster, Convertible D and Roadster

  • Light weight, minimal equipment, built to sell at a low price.
  • Removable windshield with bright-metal frame.
  • Unlined convertible top with marginal weather protection at best.
  • Unique dashboard with hooded binnacle, ignition switch not on left side.
  • Aluminum trim strips on sides of car, extending through door handles.
  • Speedster (1954-1958): low windshield, thin bucket seats, side curtains.
  • Convertible D (1959): taller windshield, regular seats, roll-up windows.
  • Roadster (1960-1962): 356B version, new name, same features as D.

That covered the 356s, but Tom McGinty brought his 550 replica to the event, so we made one more sign for it.

Special models:

550 Spyder

Porsche's first purpose-built racing car

  • Approximately 93 of these cars were built between 1953 and 1956.
  • The 550 won its class at Le Mans every year it was entered (1953-1955).
  • 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 in 1955.
  • Original 550s are prohibitively expensive--this is a Beck replica, a highly regarded car in its own right.

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