1958→1959 Porsche 356A/1600GS Carrera GT Coupé


1958→1959 Porsche 356A/1600GS Carrera GT Coupé

Following the Pre-A prototypes and a run of quad-cams with the 1500cc engine, the 1600 Carrera GT was a performance 356 that used a larger version of the Porsche 550 Spyder’s potent engine. As early as 1958, some Carreras were fitted with a larger engine known as the Type 692. The new unit featured a larger displacement which was better suited for the 1600cc class. Furthermore, it was improved considerably adopting plain bearings and new ignition system.

Sold alongside the Carrera de Luxe, the GT was lightened and prepared for racing. This meant it featured little sound deadening or upholstery, aluminum bucket seats, increased compression and slightly more power.

Technical director of Porsche Klaus von Rücker was responsible for the new Type 692 engine. It kept the earlier verion’s complicated bevel-and-shaft 4-cam valvetrain, but reverted to plain bearings. The increased oil heat was dealt with by a larger oil tank for the dry-sump lubrication system and a pair of oil coolers under each headlight.

The first Carrera GTs to be fitted with the 1600cc engines used Type 692/0 prototype versions that had roller-bearing crankshafts and produced 110 bhp @ 6400 rpm. Less than 40 of these engines were made until Hirth crankshaft supply had dried up then 14 plain-bearing engines were tested until final specification was reached for the Paris Show in October.

Production

By February of 1959, the 1600 GS/GT was finally sold. It featured 40 DCM2 Weber Carburetors as standard and a muffler with little baffles. The engine was easily identified because its distributors were relocated, grouped together at the end of the crankshaft. In Tipo 692/3 race specification, the car produce 141 bhp @ 6500.

Power was transmitted through a new Haussermann diaphragm/spring clutch to a Type 716 transaxles with improved synchomesh. This could handle the increased torque of 100 ft lbs at 5200 rpm.

The new engine and transaxle was attached with more rigidity than before with the use of an updated engine shroud. The first 1600s were fitted into the 356A Reutter Karosserie lightweight bodies.

In 1960 this model was updated to reflect changes with the 356B lineup. Only very few of the 356B GT models were made and all of those were Coupes.

Racing

As in 1958, the 1600cc Carreras dominated their class in SCCA Class F. Harry Blanchard and Bruce Jennings placed 1-2 in the series. For 1960, only 1500GS cars were approved for the production classes. This meant the 1600cc cars were left to race in Class C with Jaguars, Ferraris and Astons.

In 1960, smaller displacement cars like the Lotus Elite and Alfa Romeo Giulietta began to pressure the 356, so much so, Porsche developed a lightweight version with Abarth called the GTL.

1958→1959 Porsche 356A/1600GS Carrera GT Coupé

In Detail

typeRacing Car
production years1958 – 1959
coachbuilderReutter Karosserie
engineersKlaus von Rücker
engineType 692/3 Boxer-4 w/Dry Sump Lubrication
positionRear, Longutidinal
aspirationNatural
block materialAluminum
valvetrainDOHC, 2 Valves / Cyl
fuel feed40 DCM2 Weber Carburetors
displacement1587 cc / 96.84 in³
bore87.5 mm / 3.4 in
stroke66 mm / 2.6 in
compression9.8:1
power105.1 kw / 141 bhp @ 6500 rpm
specific output88.85 bhp per litre
bhp/weight163.01 bhp per tonne
torque135.6 nm / 100 ft lbs @ 5200 rpm
body / frameUnit Steel w/Aluminum Doors, hood
driven wheelsRWD
front tires5.90 – 15 Supersport
rear tires5.90 – 15 Supersport
curb weight865 kg / 1907 lbs
wheelbase2100 mm / 82.7 in
front track1306 mm / 51.4 in
rear track1272 mm / 50.1 in
length3950 mm / 155.5 in
width1670 mm / 65.7 in
height1310 mm / 51.6 in
transmissionType 716 Transaxle
tran clutchHaussermann Diaphragm-Spring Clutch
top speed~200 kph / 124.20 mph

Auction Sales History

1958→1959 Porsche 356A/1600GS Carrera GT Coupé

1958 Porsche 356A Carrera GS/GT Coupé 102543 – sold for €156,400. Chassis number ‘102543’, the car offered here, was originally finished in silver and delivered new on 13th January 1958 as a Carrera GS to Hans Harzheim, of Koln, Germany, who raced it successfully in his home country. Accompanying documentation notes that the car was involved in a racing accident, which prompted Mr Harzheim to return it to the factory for repairs and upgrading to ‘GT’ specification.

The Porsche Kar-Dex system records that the final upgrade was undertaken in July 1958 and included an 80-litre competition fuel tank, Speedster-style seats, Plexiglas rear screen, Spyder rear view mirror and lightweight alloy bonnet, engine cover and doors. At the same time the original 1,500cc engine was replaced with the latest 1,600cc Carrera plain-bearing unit, which the car retains, and the colour scheme changed to red. Auction Source: 2011 Automobiles d’exception au Grand Palais by Bonhams