MODEL HISTORY & PRODUCTION
The first Porsche 356 rolled off the production line in Stuttgart in 1950. Production ran until 1965 when manufacturing ceased, by which time over 76,000 examples of various model designations had been produced.
It was Porsche’s first production vehicle, with an evolution starting with the Pre-A, the 356A introduced in 1955, the 356B in late 1959, and the final series 356C introduced for the 1964 model year. In each form, they were built predominantly as either Coupe or Cabriolets. Although several variations were available as ‘Notchback Coupes’ or ‘Speedster and Roadster Convertibles’. Also available in limited numbers was the four-cam racing ‘Carrera’ version introduced in 1954.
The 356 was created by Ferdinand ‘Ferry’ Porsche (son of Ferdinand Porsche – company founder). In 1972, during a PCA magazine interview, he summarises his thinking behind the concept as: “I had always driven very speedy cars. I had an Alfa Romeo, also a BMW, and others… By the end of the war, I had a Volkswagen Cabriolet with a supercharged engine, and that was the basic idea. I saw that if you had enough power in a small car, it is nicer to drive than if you have a big car which is also overpowered. And it is more fun. On this basic idea, we started the first Porsche prototype.”
This lightweight approach quickly gained the 356 its popularity, and combined with its power-weight ratio, the rear-engined layout, nimble handling, and excellent build quality gave the 356 a proper driver appeal – a proven formula that also provided a class win at Le Mans in 1951. Power outputs varied between 40hp for the original 1131cc engine and 126hp for the later 1966cc Carrera versions.
The Pre-A or ‘prototype’ Austrian built 356s were aluminium bodied, but when manufacturing moved to Germany, Porsche contracted Reutter to manufacture the bodies in steel, and eventually bought the company in 1963. Reutter retained the seat manufacturing sector of their business, but later changed their name to Recaro – forming the company we’re much more familiar with today.
In October 1964, the 356’s successor, the iconic 911 made its debut – but its enduring popularity ensured production continued well into 1965.
This exceptional right hand drive Porsche 356 was built in April 1961 and delivered new in the colour combination we see today of Slate Grey with Red interior. It was sold by UK Porsche main agent, AFN Ltd to its first owner John Croall, an Edinburgh based coachbuilder and past controlling shareholder of H. J. Mulliner & Co until its sale to Rolls-Royce Ltd in 1959.
AFN replaced the engine before delivery with a 1600S 75 bhp unit, which it still retains, as indicated on the Kardex (Porsche data card). This was a common practice at the time – as engine removal from these vehicles was relatively straight forward, it was easy just to switch it around with the desired engine from another 356 awaiting sale.
According to the Porsche Club GB 356 database, the car was first registered with ‘75 S’ number plate, perhaps suggesting it was one of Croall’s demonstrator vehicles. It was re-registered to its current registration in 1962 when it was sold to its first private owner – a farmer in Yorkshire, UK.
In the early 1980s, after being refurbished and resprayed red, it was acquired by music promotor Geoffrey Jukes of Jukes Productions, who among others managed Kate Bush and Bob Geldof. Jukes had the vehicle restored in Germany in the early 2000s when it was finished in Silver and Dark Blue leather.
We understand the fourth registered keeper, Douglas Windstone purchased the vehicle in December 2012. After regular use for a number of years, flaws in the restoration became apparent. In 2017 a full bare metal restoration was undertaken by Ben Brown and Janos Varga of Lewes, East Sussex, UK. The engine and gearbox were stripped and rebuilt, as were all other ancillary components. Porsche specialist Garry Hall at Classic FX retrimmed the interior to its original Bordeaux Red interior including the as-delivered corduroy seat inserts, and Kingswell Coachworks resprayed it back to the original Slate Grey. The history file shows a full set of invoices totaling over £66,000 supporting these works.
This is a well-written about and photographed Porsche 356. In 1975 it appears in a famous photograph by Leeds-based documentary photographer, Peter Mitchell. Fascinated by the rate of urban decay around his hometown, Mitchell used the 356 as a prop in the shot – referred to in his diary as ‘Kingston racing motors Sunday spring 1975 4pm Olinda terrace, Leeds’. Both this, and the fascinating Classic Porsche magazine article featuring the 356 in its restored state can be seen in our images.
This is an exceptional example of the 150 or so right hand drive 356s we believe have survived.
It is available for viewing in the UK on an appointment basis, and would suit an enthusiast or collector with whom this vehicle will represent a good acquisition opportunity.
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