Porsche 356 Carrera


In 1955 the first example of a 356 Carrera was displayed at the Frankfurt motor show. The Carrera got its name in recognition of Porsches victories in the 1952 and 1954 Carrera Panamerica Mexico, a 3000 mile, high speed road race in which the Porsche factory entered the 550 spyder. It was powered by the new 1.5 litre, twin overhead camshaft, roller bearing light alloy racing engine designed by Dr Ernst Fuhrmann.

It was decided to fit a slightly detuned version of this 4 cam racing engine to the 356 to create the 356 Carrera running 100bhp, a substancial improvement over the previous highest output road car of 75bhp.

This was the car which tied the Carrera name to Porsche's serious performing road cars until as recent as the early 80's when the the Carrera brand started to become somewhat diluted by its attachment to more mainstream models

The Carrera was fitted with a twin spark ignition system and a pair of twin choke solex carburettors.

The 356 Carrera got its racing debut when it won the Liege-Rome-Leige Rally in 1954.

Porsche's originally intended to build 100 cars to qualify for participation in the grand touring class.

The Carrera option was then made available to Cabriolet and speedster models and it ran on right the way through to the 356C models, with a few changes in specification on the way. The interiors were fitted with wood rim steering wheels and 8000rpm rev counters. From 1955 the Carrera was available in two models the GS and the GT which was supplied with a higher degree of tuning.

In 1958 the the cylinder capacity was increased from 1498cc to 1598cc and was fitted with conventional plain bearings, in place of the noisier Hirth roller crankshaft. In 1961 the cylinder capacity was increased further to 1966cc.

The 2 litre models of the Carrera 1961-1963 produced in the region of 130bhp and were even quicker than the previous model years evn though it weighed 185 kg more. It was the first Porsche road car to be fitted with disc brakes.

Although the 356 Carrera was built through most of the production lifespan of the 356, it was built in very limited numbers, the engines are highly specialised and can take up to 120 hours to build properly. The Carrera models are very rare and highly desirable and most live with serious collectors.

(For more pictures of Freddy Rabbat's beautiful 1959 356 carrera Cabriolet please visit our gallery)