Porsche 356B

History of the 1960 – 1962 Porsche 356B

The Porsche 356B was manufactured between 1960 and 1964, designed in-house by Porsche designer Erwin Komenda. It was a rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car available as a coupe and roadster.

For the 1960 model year, the outgoing A model was replaced by the Porsche 356B (designated internally as the T5). The car was comprehensively redesigned with many small but influential changes to the body. The front bumper now had enlarged rim guards positioned approximately 100mm higher, along with the headlights which were similarly raised. The front indicators now protruded further forward and the front lid handle was redesigned. At the rear, the number plate lights were integrated into the now raised rear bumper whilst the reversing light was moved to a lower position.

For the 1962 model year, the front lid was re-designed to feature a widened lower section and a tank cap was introduced into the front wing. Additional ventilation grills were also integrated into the enlarged bonnet.

The Porsche 356B was offered with three 1600cc engines, designated the 1600, 1600 Super, and Super 90, and the four-cam Carrera 2. The 1600 units featured differing compression ratios and carburation resulting in outputs ranging from 60 to 90bhp. The Super 90 variant featured sodium filled valves and twin Solex P40-11 carburettors. This engine is particularly sought after by collectors due to its high power output.

The Porsche 356B was a step-change from the previous Porsche 356A. Aside from the more obvious external changes, the B offered more powerful and flexible engine options which exploited the car’s excellent chassis and handling dynamics. Their reputation for race inspired engineering and accessible performance has ensured many have led active but cherished lives. Subsequently, examples are relatively plentiful on the open market. Proper maintenance and care of any 356 is dependent on specialist knowledge and equipment no more so than the quad-cam Carrera GS. The complex body construction of the Porsche 356B resulted in many areas at which corrosion could take hold, often serious, making repair and restoration a challenging prospect.

The Porsche 356B was available in a number of different versions: the coupe, the roadster (replacing the convertible D), the Super, Super roadster, Super 90 and Super 90 roadster.

All are valued today by collectors and command high premiums, the Super 90 models in particular. There were mixed views at the time concerning the revised front end styling and raised headlights but this did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm for a car that had matured to occupy a singular place in the market. Indeed, many celebrities were Porsche 356 owners–including James Dean, Steve McQueen, and Sean Connery.

During the process of its evolution, the Porsche 356 had grown in stature and price and yet by the end of 356B production in 1964, there was still no comparable car from any other manufacturer. The MGA, AC Ace, and Jaguar XK150 all combined some elements of the 356’s appeal but none with the refined and sophisticated execution that is delivered by the Porsche.