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The Porsche 356 is the first Porsche production automobile and it was sold from 1948 through 1965. Although many consider Porsche 64 as being the first automobile produced by the German company, the 64 was never mass-produced and it was only a drivable test-mule. The 364 was created by Ferdinand Porsche and his son, Ferry Porsche, designed by Erwin Komenda and its engine features derived from the Volkswagen Beetle, deigned by Mr. Porsche Senior. The models available were initially coupe, cabriolet (luxury convertible) and then roadster (a stripped down convertible). Before being withdrawn in 1965, it went through several changes.
The most desirable versions were 356 “Carrera” (often sold for well over $150,000), “Super 90” and “Speedster”. In the late 50`s, the original selling price for a Porsche was $4,000. In 1954, Max Hoffman, the only importer of Porsches into United States needed a lower cost, racier version for the American marker. Therefore, the company created 356 “Speedster” that became a instant hit thanks to the low, raked windshield (easily removable for weekend racing), bucket seats, and minimal folding top. These days, this car is still very appreciated as it is sold for over $100,000 and it has been used in several films, including 48 Hours, its sequel – Another 48 Hours and Top Gun.
In 1957, the production of Speedster peaked at 1,171 cars. In 1959 it was replaced by the Convertible D model, which featured a taller, more practical windshield, glass side windows, and more comfortable seats. Year after year, the basic shape of Porsche 356 remained the same and was easily recognized and remarked, even though changes were made, especially in the mechanical area. Coupe and cabriolet models were produced every year up to 1965, with the last 356B Roadster built in early 1963. The final model build was 356 C that featured disc brakes and the most powerful pushrod engine Porsche so far: the 95HP “SC”. In the year that Porsche launched 911, 1964, Porsche 356 production peaked at 14,151 cars. Still, the company continued to sell the 356C in North America through the end of 1965 as a lower-cost vehicle. When the customers complained the price for 911 was too high (almost twice the price of the 356), Porsche started producing the 912, using the 356 engine. The 912model was sold between 1965 and 1969. 56 years after the beginning of the production, Sports Car International named 356C number ten on the list of Top Sports cars of the 60`s.
Today, the 356 is a respected car among the collectors, as it stood the test of time. Worldwide, thousands of 356 owners maintain the tradition, preserving their cars and driving them regularly. (word count 445) PPPPP .
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