Although Dr. Ferdinand Porsche had been in the car design business since 1931, it wasn’t until after the Second World War, in 1946, that the first car to bear his name left the assembly lines. The 1946 Porsche 356 had a lot (a LOT) in common with the VW Beetle of the day, but it was destined for more than just being the close of a cheap compact. While the general design of the car did not change much over the years, it certainly did under the hood , or in the trunk, rather. The car evolved greatly over the years, drifting further and further away from its humble VW roots, until it was almost unrecognizable, in a good way.
The Porsche 356 was available as a Coupe, convertible and a sportster; all 356s were powered by a flat-four boxer engine, air-cooled, ranging in displacement from 1.1 to 2-liters, depending on the model, and on the year. The very fastest Porsche 356 was the Carrera, from 1955 on, that could reach 130 miles per hour, thanks to its overhead camshafts and twin spark-plugs in each cylinder. In addition, the 356 could count on four wheel disc brakes (Carrera) and an independent suspension. By that time, even the humble 60 horsepower base model could reach 100 miles per hour, something that put Porsche on the map as a serious manufacturer of serious sports cars.
It all started with the humble, 40 horsepower 1946 Porsche 356, and from there, an automotive legend was born.