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1952→1955 Porsche 356 ‘Pre-A’ Coupé

1952→1955 Porsche 356 ‘Pre-A’ Coupé

In March of 1952 Porsche worked in conjunction with Reuter to simply production of the 356 and made several changes including a one-piece, bent windscreen and more significant bumpers which suited the American market. During the four year period, leading up to the 356A, the ‘Pre-A’ Coupé was constantly upgraded and included a synchromesh gearbox in 1953.

1952 cars also features ventilated disc wheels and optional trim rings that were common on export models. The car also got fully integrated front and rear aprons that extended below the bumpers. The bumpers themselves were enlarged with large guards and featured rubber strips. Small changes in the interior included a new 6000 rpm tach which replaced the clock, smaller gauge bezels, and relocated turn switch from the dashboard to the steering column.

The 1500 was Porsche’s newest engine which was quickly fitted with 40 PIBC Solex carburetors to produce 60 bhp @ 5000 rpm in 1952. These retained the Hirth roller-bearing crankshafts which gave Porsche enough clearance to enlarge their engine to 1500cc. Most cars from 1952 until the 356A of 1956 were powered by the 1500 engine but some left the factory with the smaller 1.1 and 1.3-liter engines.

1952→1955 Porsche 356 ‘Pre-A’ Coupé

At the time the Porsche was priced above the Jaguar XK120 and positioned itself as a sports-luxury model with reclining seats, Telefunken radio and an excellent level of trim by Karosserie Reuter. This increased cost was a primary reason why Max Hoffman convinced Porsche to make a stripped out Speedster for the American market.

By May of 1952 Porsche were also heavily invested in a race-ready version of the 1500 known as the Type 528. This used an entirely new crankshaft, increased valve lift from a Fuhrmann cam and a higher compression of 8.2:1. Capable of 70 bhp, the first versions were tried in aluminum Gmund coupes at the 1952 Mille Miglia. The unit was available in October of 1952 as the 1500S. At the same time Porsche announced the Normal Type 546 version which used plain bearings and smaller carburetors to reduce noise.

Changes for 1953 included an all-new synchromesh gearbox which departed from VW-sourced gears and allowed for an new set of ratios. Other detail differences of the 1953 model year included a new two-spoke steering wheel by VDM that carried the new company crest. The signal lights were also repositioned both front and rear.

In Detail

submitted by Richard Owen
type Series Production Car
production years 1952 – 1955
built at Stuttgart, Germany
body stylist Erwin Komenda
price $ $ 4,284
engine Type 527 Air Cooled Flat-4
position Rear, Longituinal
aspiration Natural
valvetrain Pushrod OHV
fuel feed Dual Solex 40 PIBC Downdraft
power 44.7 kw / 60 bhp @ 5000 rpm
bhp/weight 80.21 bhp per tonne
body / frame Steel Body over Steel Tub Chassus
driven wheels RWD
wheel type Steel Discs
front tires 5.00-16
rear tires 5.00-16
steering VW Worm & Nut
f suspension VW Parallel Trailing Arms, Tubular Dampers
r suspension VW Leading Arms w/Torsion Bars, Hydraulic Lever-Arm Shock Absorbers
curb weight 748 kg / 1647 lbs
wheelbase 2101 mm / 82.7 in
front track 1290 mm / 50.8 in
rear track 1250 mm / 49.2 in
length 3950 mm / 155.5 in
transmission VW 4-Speed Manual

Auction Sales History

1952→1955 Porsche 356 ‘Pre-A’ Coupé

1952 Porsche 356 1500 Coupe 11742 – sold for $132,000 Beautiful Early Reutter Coachwork. Documented with Kardex and Porsche Certificate of Authenticity. Six-Year Restoration Completed in 2011. First Year of Synchromesh Gearbox and Bent-Window Design. Auction Source: The Scottsdale Auctions by Gooding & Company
1952→1955 Porsche 356 ‘Pre-A’ Coupé

1955 Porsche 356/1500 Pre-A Coupe 54126 – sold for $129,250 Original German car; single-family ownership for over 25 years. Very rare matching numbers “Pre-A” Coupe. Restored in California during early-2000s by Mark Miletich; well documented. Auction Source: Amelia Island 2012 by RM Auctions