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1956→1958 Porsche 356A/1600 Cabriolet

1956→1958 Porsche 356A/1600 Cabriolet

Despite looking outwardly similar to the preceding models, Porsche thoroughly updated their 356 line in 1956 and called their new model the 356A. At the core, this included a larger 1600 cc engine, but also a curved-glass windshield and a thoroughly revised suspension.

At the 1955 Frankfurt Motor Show in September of 1955, Porsche released the 356A/1600 to the world with cabriolet, coupe and speedster bodies from Reutter. These were updated to better suit the improved gasoline and tire technologies of the period.

With the 356A came a larger 1582 cc engine that had higher compression to take advantage of the available higher octane fuels. A Type 616/2 Super engine was offered as an option with raised power.

Extensive testing by the experimental department known as Versuchsabteilung resulted in numerous suspension and drive line mounting changes before the final 356A specification was decided. They softened the springs by removing leaves from the torsion cars and fitted stiffer dampers. This was done to take advantage of a more modern tire technology which allowed for a smaller-diameter 15-inch tire and a wider tread with reduced air pressures.

From the outside, the 356A kept to the Porsche mantra of stepwise evolution. The new model was outwardly identical to the previous version except for the wider tires, a small rub-strip below the doors, a fully-curved front window and enamel paint replacing lacquer previously used.

Inside, Porsche fitted an all-new, flat-face dashboard that was sculpted around the new curved windshield. It included a padded-top, locking glovebox and a provision for a modern radio. Other interior appointments included a headlight flasher, automatic interior lighting, self-cancelling signal switches and, most importantly, a lower floor. Popular options were a steering-wheel lock and a clock.

At the 1957 Frankfurt Motor Show Porsche released the T2 body style with exhaust routing through the rear bumper over-riders. More importantly, the T2 cars stopped using the roller-bearing crankshafts and the Hirth crankshaft in the Super models. Other changes included changing the carburation from Solex to Zenith 32 NDIX. By 1959 the 356A was replaced outright by the 356B.


In Detail

submitted by Richard Owen
type Series Production Car
production years 1956 – 1958
released at 1955 Frankfurt Motor Show
built at Stuttgart, Germany
body stylist Erwin Komenda
coachbuilder Reutter
price $ $ 2,995
engine Type 546 Air Cooled Flat-4
position Rear, Longituinal
aspiration Natural
valvetrain Pushrod OHV
fuel feed Dual Solex 26 VFJ Downdraft
displacement 1582 cc / 96.54 in³
bore 82.5 mm / 3.2 in
stroke 74 mm / 2.9 in
compression 8.5:1
power 44.7 kw / 60 bhp @ 4500 rpm
specific output 37.93 bhp per litre
bhp/weight 75.57 bhp per tonne
body / frame Steel Body over Steel Tub Chassis
driven wheels RWD
wheel type Steel Slotted Discs
front tires 5.60×15 Sport
rear tires 5.60×15 Sport
front wheels F 38.1 x 11.4 cm / 15 x 4.5 in
rear wheels R 38.1 x 11.4 cm / 15 x 4.5 in
steering VW Worm & Nut
f suspension VW Parallel Trailing Arms, Boge Telescopic Dampers, 15mm Anti-Roll Bar
r suspension VW Leading Arms w/Torsion Bars, Hydraulic Lever-Arm Shock Absorbers
curb weight 794 kg / 1750 lbs
wheelbase 2101 mm / 82.7 in
front track 1306 mm / 51.4 in
rear track 1272 mm / 50.1 in
length 3950 mm / 155.5 in
transmission VW 4-Speed Manual
top speed ~160 kph / 99.4 mph
0 – 60 mph ~13.9 seconds
0 – 1/4 mile ~19.2 seconds

Auction Sales History

1956→1958 Porsche 356A/1600 Cabriolet

1959 Porsche 356A/1600 Cabriolet 152136 – sold for $209,000 40 years of storage with Charlie Werp, of Omaha, Nebraska. Comprehensive bare-metal restoration and mechanical rebuild by Lance Pittack, owner of Woodhouse Porsche in Omaha with a new wiring harness, a new windshield, body seals, and countless new OEM parts, fasteners, and hardware. Over 1,550 hours of labor were recorded on shop invoices that are included with the car. Auction Source: RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2015

1956→1958 Porsche 356A/1600 Cabriolet
1959 Porsche 356A 1600S Cabriolet – did not sell for $180,000 Extremely rare 1959 Porsche 356A 1600S Reutter Cabriolet. Original numbers matching drivetrain. 4-speed manual transmission. Restored in Black with Red interior. Black soft top. Low production Porsche. Owner’s manual and Certificate of Authenticity included. Auction Source: Kissimmee 2014, #WhereTheCarsAre by Mecum