1948  Porsche 356 B: Back to the roots

1948  Porsche 356 B: Back to the roots

EngineOpposed 4Horsepower39 BHP (28.704 KW) @ 4000 RPMTorque50 Ft-Lbs (68 NM) @ 2800 RPMEngine locationRearDrive TypeRWDTransmission4-speed manual

The first serial production car of the German manufacturer – the 356 model went on sale in 1948 thanks to the Swiss. Moreover, the first copies were sold in Switzerland.

Source: WallpaperAccess

The model owes its existence to an entrepreneur from Zurich, Ruprecht von Segner, thanks to whom the son of the brand’s founder Ferdinand (Ferry) Porsche, was able to assemble and launch the 356 model in the Austrian city of Gmund. The help of the Swiss entrepreneur was tremendous, as he supplied Ferry with spare parts and alloyed sheet iron (after the war, steel could not be imported into Austria for some time) through a secret agent. A year later, the work was completed. Von Senger really played a significant role for the brand during the years of its development, as he believed in Ferry and his vision of the perfect sports vehicle. 

The origins

Source: Flickr

Father and son Porsche were designing sports automobiles back in pre-war times, gaining experience in assembling fast and powerful roadsters. However, during the war, as a result of the bombing near Stuttgart, all company’s archives were destroyed (the result of the work of the previous 12 years). In 1944, the surviving equipment of the company was transported to the Austrian village of Gmund. The post-war period was also not the easiest for talented engineers. After the end of World War II, Ferdinand and Ferry were arrested by the French in Baden-Baden on charges of complicity with the Nazis. Charges were dropped from the son in March 1946, and from his father only in 1947, but for another year Ferdinand did not have the right to leave the French zone of occupation. Ferry did not get out without help, of course. This was facilitated by the Italian entrepreneur Pieri Dusio, who paid the French authorities. He, of course, had his interests for that: he wanted to design a racing vehicle and to achieve this he needed the support of the best auto designers – father and son Porsche. Ferry applied more than one of his father’s approaches, which were tested on Auto Union cars, even before the war. The prototype vehicle turned out to be very successful, and with the money acquired from Dusio, he hired a lawyer for the father, who was in custody. At the same time, he started with the organization of the release of a personal sports car. For all vehicles of this model’s series, the Volkswagen Beetle platform was used: all of them were rear-engined with rear-wheel drive and had the same suspension. The body with smooth lines was easily recognizable, although its aerodynamic characteristics were surprisingly good. At first, the company offered 2 + 2 coupe and convertible bodies, but soon began production of a more stylish 2-seater Speedster roadster. A total of 52 cars with aluminum coupe and convertible bodies were built in Gmund in 1948.

1948 model year

Source: Supercar Nostalgia

In 1948, the 356th kicked off the brand’s epic story, becoming the first automobile bearing the brand’s crest to be certified for use on European highways. The legendary roadster was represented by 4 generation models, designated as 356 (“pre-A”), A, B, and C, in 28  modifications. The early 356 Gmund Roadsters featured a two-piece windshield and a gracefully curved trunk lid that shone with a Porsche Crest. From the Beetle, the automobile inherited the brake system, steering gear, non-synchronized 4-speed gearbox, front suspension, and air-cooled B4 boxer engine. Engine power increased to 40 liters by increasing the diameters of the intake and exhaust valves and increasing the compression ratio from 5.8 to 7.0 at 4000 rpm. The hilly landscape and deserted post-war roads around Gmund served as the 356’s first testing ground. During the first trips, it was difficult to get a complete picture of the dynamics of the roadster: in post-war Europe, there was practically no high-octane gasoline. The gasoline that Ferry got from the Soviet troops in Austria, with a relatively high compression ratio of the Porsche engine, did not allow the vehicle to develop maximum power. Traveling on high-quality gasoline was a great pleasure for Ferry Porsche: the automobile climbed the Gmund hills “like a mountain goat” and easily picked up speed up to 130 km / h.

Did you know?

Source: Car&Classic

In 1948 after 3 days of the official launch, the Automobile magazine published an article about the 1948 356B under the heading “Big name with a good future”. This was truly prophetic, as with this model the company’s starry track began laying a foundation for other legendary Porsches. 

For more remarkable stories read our Car Library section regularly!

1948  Porsche 356 B: Back to the roots

EngineOpposed 4Horsepower39 BHP (28.704 KW) @ 4000 RPMTorque50 Ft-Lbs (68 NM) @ 2800 RPMEngine locationRearDrive TypeRWDTransmission4-speed manual

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