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.
Series Production Car
1956 – 1958
1955 Frankfurt Motor Show
Type 546 Air Cooled Flat-4
Dual Solex 26 VFJ Downdraft
1582 cc / 96.54 in³
82.5 mm / 3.2 in
74 mm / 2.9 in
44.7 kw / 60 bhp @ 4500 rpm
37.93 bhp per litre
68.49 bhp per tonne
body / frame
Steel Body over Steel Tub Chassis
Steel Slotted Discs
F 38.1 x 11.4 cm / 15 x 4.5 in
R 38.1 x 11.4 cm / 15 x 4.5 in
VW Worm & Nut
VW Parallel Trailing Arms, Boge Telescopic Dampers, 15mm Anti-Roll Bar
VW Leading Arms w/Torsion Bars, Hydraulic Lever-Arm Shock Absorbers
1957 Porsche 356A 1600 Coupe 101972 – sold for $103,400 Desirable 356A Coupe accompanied by original matching numbers engine. Professionally restored throughout and fitted with a 1600 Super engine. Factory delivered in Aquamarine Blue over a red leatherette interior. Excellent entry for vintage rallies and driving events. Simple, elegant and pure version of the legendary Porsche 356. Auction Source: The Scottsdale Auction 2015 by Bonhams
1958 Porsche 356A Coupe 103924 – sold for $159,900 Matching-Numbers Engine, Transaxle, and Body Panels. Restored by Marque Experts. Finished in Original Glasurit Silver Metallic (5706). Accompanied by a Porsche Certificate of Authenticity. Multiple Porsche Club Awards. Sensational Early Reutter Coachwork. A Highly Regarded, California “Black Plate” 356. Auction Source: The Amelia Island Auction by Gooding & Company