Happy 66th Birthday to the Porsche 356 unveiling! The unit pictured above is one of 48 hand built ,all aluminum bodied, 356 coupes that were built in 1948 in Gmund, Austria. The final design work on the 356 was done by Erwin Komenda and these original aluminum bodied cars are now referred to as “Gmund models”.
Here’s a neat pic of Jerry Sienfeld and Jay Leno cruising down the highway in Jerry’s Gmund model.
A little bit of history on the 356:
The barn in Gmund where the first aluminum bodies were built quickly became insufficient to keep up with demand, so the production facility was moved to Zuffenhausen, a Stuttgart suburb. Porsche rented a facility there and space in the Ruetter bodywork factory. Ruetter took over the production of the 356 coupe bodies and another firm, Glaser, took over production of all cabriolet bodies. All bodies from this point forward were made of steel.
The 356 had a very long production life. It ran from 1948 to 1963 and many variants were introduced. Here are a few:
Gmünd models 1948, the pre-A models 1950 – 1955, the 356 A 1955 – 1959, the 356 B 1959 – 1963,
the 356 C 1963 – 1965.
In the same time period some special models were introduced; between 1955 and 1965 the 356 Carrera model was built. The Carrera engine was fitted with four overhead camshafts. Between 1954 and 1964 special convertible models were produced like the America Roadster, the Speedster and the Convertible D.
September 1963 saw the introduction of the Porsche 356 successor on the Frankfurt auto show; the Porsche 901 (later to be known as Porsche 911).
In October 1964 the Porsche 901 was renamed (re numbered) 911. Porsche was forced to do so because automobile manufacturer Peugeot owned the legal rights on three digit car numbers with the “0” in the middle.
As often happens with the introduction of a new model the existing Porsche customers were not very charmed by the new model. They claimed the 901/911 was too large, too powerful and to luxurious to be a real Porsche…