OLD SCHOOL CARS – ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Just as with this project, all life begins somewhere…
If your name is Porsche, ‘life’ began in 1931 with consulting and motor vehicle development in Stuttgart. What started with military vehicles, tractors and twenty one million ‘bugs’ scurrying across the globe, has evolved into the world’s largest manufacturer of race cars and the most successful entity in motorsport history. An astonishing twenty eight thousand racing victories and an indisputable reputation as one of the most stylish, desirable and prestigious luxury brands on the planet comes directly from the DNA of the first Porsche production car… the 356.
In 1948, Ferdinand’s son Ferry created the 356 and forever changed much more than just the automotive landscape, simply because he could not find a vehicle he wanted to buy. The agile and lightweight rear-engine rear-wheel-drive two door sports car that would come to define the iconic brand, was produced in a variety of both hardtop and convertible versions until 1966. Originally the same price as a Cadillac and sharing many components with its cousin the Beetle, the 356 would be constantly improved throughout is life span in the pursuit of performance, though the basic form remained true. Later models would share few parts with its meager ancestors, offer three times the power as well as vastly improved handling and refinement; quickly becoming renowned for its aerodynamics, engineering, style and build quality both on and off the race track.
“Driving in its purest form”, there is a reason that an astounding half of the seventy six thousand 356’s produced still survive today. Depending on model, condition and provenance; specimens can cost between ten and three hundred thousand dollars, or more. While we may not all be collectors looking for the ultra rare museum quality piece or are sadly unable to afford anything from the current line up, purchasing an everyday driver with classic style that will only appreciate in value for the price of a new Honda, shouldn’t even be a question. Of course James Dean, Steve McQueen and Bruce Lee are… err… were among the plethora of rich and famous 356 enthusiasts, but what did any of them ever know about what’s cool anyways?
The genetics of the 356 are clearly visible in all Porsche models even to this day, especially in one of the greatest cars of all time, the legendary 911. Because of this direct lineage, some say Porsche designers are the laziest people on earth and that there has not been a new Porsche (other than the Cayenne , which some refuse to acknowledge at all, but that’s another article) since the 911 was introduced in 1963, while others cry ‘if it ain’t broke then don’t try and fix it’. I think ‘ol Chuck would rather to refer to it as ‘natural selection’ but either way, Darwin has nothing on Porsche.