Production in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen began in the Spring of 1950, initially with bodyshells built by Reutter. While the silhouette of the 356 remained much the same over its production run, it was constantly evolved becoming the 356 A in 1956, a much revised/redesigned 356 B in 1960 and finally the 356 C in 1964. Body styles included Coupe, Cabriolet and Speedster. Engines grew from 1100c and 40bhp to nearly 2-litres and 130bhp, with the 356B/C 2000 GS Carrera, but by far the most popular were the various OHV 1600cc models.
The 356C and SC featured both 75bhp and 90bhp, 1600cc OHV engines. Even with 75bhp, the 356 C could reach 60mph in 14secs and its slippery Coupe body enabled a top-speed of 109mph.
We could write a book about the 356, so best to concentrate on what we have in front of us, which is a wonderful example of this last of the 356 C, in Sky Blue and with history and documentation, that arrived in a crate. And it makes for quite a story.
Collected from the factory in April 1964, and with an original bill of sale for $3809, this 356 C’s first owner was Daniel Otto, from San Diego, California. The car was imported into America through Dutch based Transol Car Sales. Although interestingly, the original service book’s Dealer Stamp is that of Porsche Concessionaires for Great Britain A.F.N (Frazer-Nash) Ltd, which would suggest it passed this way before landing in America.
Dan Otto owned the car right through to 1989, covering 83,000 miles. Ownership notes include a new clutch at 73,000 miles and a new muffler at 64,000 miles. That’s the California climate for you.
Imported in to the UK in 1989 by Alan Seymour, this 356 came with comprehensive notes from Otto as to its upkeep. In 1996 it was sold to Philip Kantor and who used here in the UK and in his native Belgium, where it underwent an extensive body, interior and mechanical restoration by GIPIMO Automobiles, with accompanying picture file and substantial invoice for 98 hrs and 149,485 Belgian francs.
Changing hands again in 2002, this 356 has been local to us in the ownership of Chris Paveley, until now. Chris has clearly spared no expense in carrying on the good work of previous owners, with upkeep and parts from the leading exponents in the 356 world, including DSD Motorwerks, PR Services, Karmann Konnection, Maxted-Page & Prill, the latter carrying out a full engine rebuild at a shade over £10,000.
We are assuming that Dan Otto is probably sadly no longer with us, but he would doubtlessly approve that his 356 C has been clearly cherished over the years, moving from Californian daily driver to lighter classic use. The body and paintwork present well and mechanically it’s as sound as a pound, as you would expect in view of its history. The red leather interior is in excellent condition and compliments the Sky-Blue paint, a colour which makes a cheerful change from the seemingly in vogue, if subdued grey, ivory and white. A 356 makes for a great useable classic and this example is no exception.