1951 Porsche 356: Exquisite Craftsmanship

1951 Porsche 356: Exquisite Craftsmanship

Engine Opposed 4 Horsepower 43 BHP (31.648 KW) @ 4000 RPMTorque 58 Ft-Lbs (79 NM) @ 2500 RPM Engine Location RearDrive Type RWDWeight 1675 lbs | 759.767 kgTransmission 4-speed manual

As the first production automobile to bear the Porsche name, the 356 emerged as a harbinger of greatness—a harbinger that would shape the destiny of an entire brand. With its beguiling charm and race-bred DNA coursing through its veins, the 356 introduced the world to a new era of automotive excellence.

Source: RM Sotheby’s

Step into a world where automotive history and timeless design converge. Meet the 1951 Porsche 356, affectionately known as the “pre-A” model. Instantly recognizable with its distinctive two-piece windscreen divided by a center bar, this iconic vehicle marks the beginning of a legendary lineage. As the years unfolded, the 356 gracefully evolved, adopting a single-piece windscreen with a center bend in 1952. Throughout its generations, from Cabriolet to Speedster and Roadster, the 356 captured hearts with its open-top charm. 

The origins

Source: Classic Driver

Before the outbreak of World War II, both Ferdinand and Ferry Porsche had been involved in the design of sports vehicles, honing their skills in crafting swift and powerful roadsters. Unfortunately, the war took its toll on their endeavors, as the company’s archives, containing twelve years’ worth of work, were obliterated during the bombings near Stuttgart. In 1944, the surviving equipment was relocated to the Austrian village of Gmund. However, the post-war period presented its own set of challenges for talented engineers. Following the war’s conclusion, Ferdinand and Ferry found themselves arrested by the French authorities in Baden-Baden on accusations of collusion with the Nazis. While Ferry was cleared of charges in March 1946, Ferdinand had to wait until 1947 for his name to be exonerated. Yet, even after his release, Ferdinand was still restricted from leaving the French occupation zone for an additional year. However, Ferry’s escape from this predicament was facilitated by the assistance of Italian entrepreneur Piero Dusio, who made a payment to the French authorities. Dusio had his interests in mind, as he sought the expertise of the esteemed Porsche father and son duo to design a racing vehicle. 

Ferry drew upon his father’s pre-war approaches, which had been tested on Auto Union automobiles, to create a prototype that proved highly successful. With the funds acquired from Dusio, Ferry secured legal representation for his father, who was still in custody, while simultaneously initiating plans for the production of a personal sports vehicle. All models in this series were built on the platform of the Volkswagen Beetle, featuring a rear-mounted engine, rear-wheel drive, and shared suspension. The elegantly contoured body boasted distinctive styling while delivering surprisingly commendable aerodynamic performance. Initially, the company offered coupe and convertible bodies with a 2+2 seating arrangement. However, it wasn’t long before they commenced the production of a more stylish and sleek 2-seater Speedster roadster. In the year 1948 alone, a total of 52 vehicles were manufactured in Gmund, featuring lightweight aluminum coupes and convertible bodies.

The 1951 model year

Source: Classic Motori

The 1951 iteration of the Porsche 356 marked a significant milestone in the ongoing development of this legendary sports vehicle. While preserving the distinctive essence of its predecessors, the 1951 version incorporated a range of notable enhancements that distinguished it from earlier versions. In terms of its exterior design, the 1951 edition retained the recognizable silhouette that had captured the hearts of car enthusiasts. However, a key visual difference between the 1951 model and the previous year’s version lay in the windshield configuration. Unlike the original 356, which featured a two-piece windscreen divided by a center bar, the 1951 edition introduced a sleeker single-piece windscreen with a center bend. This modification not only enhanced the car’s aesthetics but also improved visibility for the driver, thereby elevating the overall driving experience. Beneath the bonnet, the 1951 release offered a selection of engine options, including the highly regarded flat-four powerplants. These meticulously engineered air-cooled engines delivered spirited performance and emitted a distinctive exhaust note that became synonymous with the Porsche brand. While specific specifications varied depending on the particular variant, the 1951 version generally featured engines with displacements ranging from 1.1 to 1.5 liters, producing horsepower figures between 40 and 60. Such power output provided ample thrust for an exhilarating driving experience. Inside the cabin, the 1951 release exuded timeless elegance and a driver-centric design ethos. Despite its compact dimensions, the interior boasted a thoughtfully arranged cockpit tailored to the needs of the driver. Ergonomically positioned controls, such as the three-spoke steering wheel and intuitive instrumentation, engendered an immersive driving environment. Upholstery options varied, offering choices between classic leather and durable yet comfortable cloth materials, allowing for a personalized touch. Furthermore, the 1951 model year introduced refined suspension tuning, which significantly enhanced the car’s handling and ride quality. The suspension system, in conjunction with the lightweight construction and precise steering, contributed to the renowned agility and responsiveness that had come to be expected from Porsche vehicles. 

Did you know?

Source: Petrolicious

The 1951 edition appeared in the classic Alfred Hitchcock film “North by Northwest” released in 1959. In the movie, the protagonist played by Cary Grant finds himself pursued by enemies, leading to a thrilling chase sequence involving a memorable scene with a 1951 edition Cabriolet. The sleek and stylish vehicle became an iconic element of the film, adding a touch of sophistication and excitement to the on-screen action. This cinematic connection further cemented the allure and cultural significance of the 1951 edition in the annals of automotive and film history.

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1951 Porsche 356: Exquisite Craftsmanship

Engine Opposed 4 Horsepower 43 BHP (31.648 KW) @ 4000 RPMTorque 58 Ft-Lbs (79 NM) @ 2500 RPM Engine Location RearDrive Type RWDWeight 1675 lbs | 759.767 kgTransmission 4-speed manual

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