The current owner acquired the car as an unpainted shell in 2017 and proceeded to refinish it in its original Ivory White colour with red accents on the interior. He also had the car prepared mechanically for competition, specifically with the intention of using it on the prestigious Mille Miglia retrospective.
The engine is particularly special, being built by PRS using a set of the stronger 912 crankcases as a foundation. It uses 83mm Shasta pistons and cylinders (equating to 1,600 cc), a NeuTek SX-3 camshaft, optimised cylinder heads, a full flow oil filtration system with remote oil cooler, and a lightened flywheel. It is fitted with Solex 40 PII carburettors.
The engine has been tested on a rolling road and produced 129hp at 6,600 rpm, or more than double what the car would have had when new. The gearbox is a late dual nose mounted type 741 with shortened ratios and limited slip differential fitted. The brakes have been uprated with 60mm Carrera-type front drums.
The car has been set up for safe circuit and event usage with a plumbed-in fire extinguisher system, internal and external ignition cut-outs, a rear roll cage, towing eyes and four-point racing harnesses. It was completed earlier in 2021 and has had not much more than shakedown mileage since.
A knowledgably prepared early 356 has for many years been a great choice for historic motorsport and events. They are reliable, practical and great fun to drive. They are also highly eligible and surprisingly competitive, regularly outperforming their contemporary drum-braked opposition at prestigious events such as Tour Auto, Le Mans Classic and the Goodwood Revival.
This car has been very smartly executed by people who know what they are doing and with a great eye for detail. It has just the right mixture of old and new, to make sure it functions perfectly yet retains its period charm. We would describe the overall aesthetic as “gentleman racer”, purposeful certainly but not extreme.
It’s important to understand, though, that this is not an outright racer; on the contrary, the focus of both the owner and PRS was to build a car that could be used for every occasion. You have to say that they have succeeded in this goal.
As well as looking terrific, this feisty little car drives like the thoroughbred that it is. It steers beautifully, corners predictably and brakes with confidence. The engine will rev past 7,000 rpm if you need it to, however it is not highly strung picking up cleanly from low speed and starting on the first crank.
This makes the car extremely versatile: we would suggest that it is really a supercool touring and event car, quick and pure to drive but not so extreme that it’s unenjoyable in this capacity. You could use it on the road all the time, compete in road-based competition events or take it to the most serious historic race meetings. Needless to say, we would go for all three…