2007 Shannons Melbourne Summer Classic Auction
1960 Porsche 356 Super 90 Roadster
|Engine||Flat four-cylinder, 1582cc|
This lot is no longer available
The 356 can fairly be described as the car that put Porsche on the map, the unconventional rear-mounted flat-four engine starting a tradition that continues to the present day. The earliest 356s were somewhat underpowered and very primitive in terms of equipment but, by the late 1950s, had matured into an altogether more sophisticated sports car, with plenty of creature comforts. In September 1959, the most radical development of the 356 was announced at the Frankfurt Motor Show, with an entirely restyled body - designated the T5 - featuring different bumpers and revised front wings with the headlamps mounted higher up. In 1961, Porsche announced a Roadster variant to fill the gap between the spartan Speedster and the more luxurious Cabriolet. The Roadster had a slightly larger windscreen than the Speedster, wind-up wide glass, reshaped leather-clad seats and a lined hood for better weather protection. The chassis also underwent some revision and the tendency towards oversteer was reduced (radial tyres as standard fitment helped in this regard), while the floorpan was altered to increase rear passenger space. The new 356B was available with three different pushrod engines, the 1600 and 1600S continuing unchanged but with the addition of new Super 90 featuring twin-choke carburettors, larger inlet valves and a reworked cylinder head to increase power output. The brakes were improved, with better friction linings and the drums now had 72 light alloy rubs to keep them cool. The 356 Roadster remains an excellent compromise between the raw nature of the Speedster and the more luxury oriented Cabriolet, with values falling somewhere between the two. As an added bonus, the Roadster is one of the rarest 356 variants, with only 1529 built in 1960 and just over 2500 made in total - by way of contrast, there were almost 80,000 356s of all types made.