The Porsche 356 is the first production car the German auto manufacturers ever built and serves as the root from which sprouted the legendary 911. The 356 was not nearly as robust as the 911 but in period, was certainly a force to be reckoned with on the street and the race track. From the early prototype cars, to the 356C, this nimble sports car underwent a series of refinements and iterations. The 356B was the successor to the 356A, receiving several updates including, more upright and pronounced front fenders, enlarged bumper guards, more “spacious” rear seating, chrome hood handle, and a trifecta of 1.6L engines that one could equip. The standard 1.6L engine produced about 60bhp, the super 75bhp, and the super 90 which as the name indicates, 90bhp. The focus of the 356 was always to create a light, small, potent sports car that could compete on the race track but still usable to the average enthusiast. You were able to get a 356 in both a coupé and cabriolet platform which brings us to the example on offer here.
Available for acquisition is this 1963 Porsche 356B 1600 S, chassis number 157788, engine number 704922, having only traveled a mere 22,000 miles since new. The documented history of this car begins in Hayward, California where, according to a bill of sale dated November 25, 1964, was purchased from the original owner by a Mr. Nielsen for the amount of $3,215. This example has remained under Nielsen’s ownership in California for the bulk of its life but has recently made its way to the east coast in hopes of procuring a new custodian. During its early ownership, the car was regularly serviced by a Porsche dealership in Albany, California. In 1974, it appears that there was an engine rebuild executed and larger valves installed. We then see a receipt dated July 4, 1975 for the interior and convertible soft top to be reupholstered in their original colors from the factory. Although it does not specify, it seems that only the seats and rugs were replaced based on the wear, condition, and overall look of both areas. The door panels seem to have retained their original finish along with the entirety of the dashboard, and rear seats. The receipts continue to detail miscellaneous parts and repairs all the way through 1995. Remarkably, the registration history is documented from the early 70’s to 2008.
Upon approach of this example, there is no doubting that this car received a well thought out, comprehensive refreshing that was mindful to preserve many of the original features. At some point this example received a repaint in its factory issued color according the COA and has maintained a superb finish that is challenging to fault. It has a great shine and is very consistent down the lines of the body and nicely finished in the nooks and crannies. A careful inspection of the body will conclude excellent body gaps and panel fitment throughout. The black soft top has been replaced and shows as such with no pulls, tears, or blemishes in the rear plastic window. When the exterior of this example was addressed, the trim and chrome items were left in their original condition as they are still very presentable albeit showing some blemishes as expected from original surfaces such as light scratches and pitting in the case of the chrome bits. The front and rear bumper guards have incurred a scuff and scratch here and there but worth the tradeoff for originality. All of the glass is original to the car and shows as well preserved, free of any cracks or major chipping. The driver and passenger side windows show some minor scratching but nothing warranting replacement. The chrome hubcaps are also in excellent condition, having developed no noteworthy flaws.
As we move to our inspection of the interior, it is certainly one of the highlights of this example. The door jams have maintained their original paint as well as their period maintenance stickers. All of the interior upholstery from the leather seats, to the door panels, to the headliner have all been carefully preserved and well kept. The red interior has developed this magnificent patina that adds a welcomed and rare splendor to the cabin that any enthusiast would adore. The thin black steering holds a story with each mark and scuff that it has endured that gives it a vivid character. The three-gauge format makes the user well aware they are driving a classic Porsche with each instrument fully operational. The rugs are immaculate, displaying no evidence of mistreatment whatsoever. This interior is nothing short of a time capsule, adding to this examples sense of occasion and rarity when at the helm.
Open up the front boot and we see all the appropriate finishes and body tags throughout. One will also find the original spare wheel and jack safely stored here. Additionally, the original sound deadening around the gas tank and original trunk pan are still present. Relocating to the engine bay, it can be quickly concluded that it has received a complete cosmetic and mechanical refreshing. All surfaces have a nice shine and appear cleanly and correct to factory specifications. All hoses are supple, electrical components new, and tended to by very capable hands. The undercarriage of this example is yet another unexpected treat as it is saturated with marks of originality. There is a plentiful amount of factory spot welds and all panels show as original, overlaid with an authentic patina.
Mechanically, this example is a well-sorted and displays no symptoms that would indicate the need for any repairs. The air-cooled flat four-cylinder engine starts with ease and once up to temperature, runs well. The only abnormality noticed is when in medium RPM’s, if the user goes to accelerate heavily, on occasion, the engine has a brief moment where it stumbles but quickly regroups. This is most likely due to lack of use and a quick clean of the carburetors and a spirited afternoon drive would remedy the issue. Once out on the road, the manual 4-speed gearbox shifts without fault and the clutch operates as it should. The large drum brakes bring the sporty cabriolet to a prompt stop with any fade or pull completely absent. All in all, this little Porsche still has plenty enjoyment left in it and craves some much-needed time spent on a windy back road.
Piecing all these elements together, the 1963 Porsche 356B 1600 S we are left with today is one of rarity. It still retains many of it finishes and componentry that it was equipped with from the factory, all while having had of its systems gone through, making it a turn-key example. Also, being a Super means the user benefits from increased performance as well as monetary value. However, the dead original door jams, door panels, and underside would be considered priceless to many car guys as they are attributes that are becoming increasingly rarer each day. Examples such as this are the cars enthusiasts desire and make for an excellent collector’s piece or Sunday cruiser. Offered with the sale of this example is original spare wheel, jack, Porsche Certificate of Authenticity, partially complete tool kit, and detailed history file.
Available Documentation:(Please click the links below to view the files)