A legendary figure within the history of Porsche, Ernst Fuhrmann’s engineering contributions helped to establish the brand’s motorsport pedigree and would eventually lead the technician to become Chairman of the Board. His masterpiece—an alloy-cased, DOHC engine with its roller-bearing crankshaft—was designed as a full-on racing powerplant, with its valve train operating through a system of multiple shafts and bevel gears driven off the crankshaft. It utilised dry-sump lubrication and dual ignition, with a pair of distributors being driven off the intake cams and a pair of switches on the dashboard allowing for individual testing of the twin coils.
Porsche’s “Four-Cam” engine, as it is popularly referred to today, first appeared in the company’s mid-engined 550 Spyders of the early-1950s. Developing around 110 horsepower at 6,200 rpm in racing tune—roughly twice the output of the company’s similarly sized pushrod engines—this intriguing 1.5-litre powerplant would take on the punishing Carrera Panamericana road races of 1953, 1954, and 1955.
After proving itself as a giant killer in Mexico, Porsche installed a slightly detuned version of the racing Type 547/1 engine—now known as the “Carrera” unit—in road-legal 356 coupés, cabriolets, and some Speedsters, dubbing them the “GS”. Highly tuned GT engines with increased compression and more radical cam timing were made available for owners who wished to race.
In 1958, Porsche introduced a larger, upgraded version of the Carrera engine, dubbed the Type 692. Now displacing 1,587 cc, the revised powerplant abandoned the roller-bearing crankshaft in favour of plain bearings. A new ignition system was also developed. To further aid cooling, the Type 692’s dry sump system featured a larger oil tank and a pair of heat exchangers were placed under each headlamp. In full race tune, this diminutive engine delivered a thoroughly impressive 141 brake horsepower at 6,500 rpm. To handle the extra grunt, a Type 716 transaxle with a Haussermann diaphragm/spring clutch fed power to the rear wheels. As with previous iterations of the Carrera model, both De Luxe and GT variants were offered. The latter featured reduced sound deadening and aluminum bucket seats, doors, engine lid, and hood. These examples stand as perhaps the ultimate development of the 356 up to that point in Porsche’s history. Today, they remain highly desirable to devotees of the brand.
The 1969 Porsche Carrera 356 A Carrera 1600 GT Coupé on offer, chassis 107265, was first delivered to Dr. Giorgio Acutis in Turin, Italy. As shown on the Kardex document on file, this 356 was completed by the factory on 30 May 1959. The document further confirms the original exterior colour of Silver Metallic. Intent on using the racer as intended by the manufacturer, the car was subsequently campaigned in a succession of Italian hill climb events. Photos on file from this period display the Porsche at these competitions flying through corners and bearing the distinctive black registration plates of Torino.
Additional documentation lists Dr. Acutis as the class-winner of both the 1959 editions of the Pontedecimo-Giovi and Aosta-Pila hill climbs. The car competed at the Varese Campo de Fiori, Garessio, and Sassi-Superga hill climbs in 1960. While the history of the car remains unclear up until the turn of the century, a registration on file shows the car in the hands of a resident in Bologna as of 2003. In 2015, the Carrera was sold and transferred to Germany.
This Porsche is accompanied by a FIVA assessment book published in 2016. This document confirms the excellent condition of the car both mechanically and cosmetically, thanks to a restoration which was completed several years prior to this review. It is noted that the original engine is no longer fitted to the car. The engine compartment now features a spare unit supplied by Porsche’s racing department and bears the correct type number, 692/3. The remainder of the document concludes that much of the remaining components are accurate to the original specification of the car. In February 2021, the car was recommissioned by Tom Fischer of Germany, with the workshop bill valued at €7067.53 (available to view on file).
A highly significant and must-have automobile for any Porsche enthusiast, this wonderful 1959 356 A Carrera 1600 GT Coupé represents the most hardcore, and competition ready iteration of the marque’s beloved road car up to that point in the firm’s storied history. Thanks to a powerful race-bred engine and lightweight components, the GT variant makes for a thrilling driving experience. In addition, its status and rarity make it eligible for concours, rallies, and vintage motorsport events across the globe. The opportunity to acquire such a desirable Porsche with victorious period competition history should not be missed.