Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Early Porsche 356 -- a Glorified VW or Something Else?



Claudia Liebenberg -- Art




Hi folks -- when I was a child, I heard from relatives that the Porsche 356 was nothing but a gussied up VW. Well, the earliest of Porsches used many VW parts, but there were important differences as well.

1) Even to the most uninformed, fit and finish of the early Porsches were substantially better than the same year VW. Above all, the meticulous workmanship evident throughout the car took many hours of labor. The engine bore the initials of the specialist who assembled it and prepared it for use. Body panels were hand-fitted closely and carefully. The interior was simple, but luxurious. The door latches were so precisely made and installed that the doors closed quietly and solidly, a quality not found in cheaper cars.

2) While the flat opposed, air-cooled four cylinder engine initially contained many stock parts, it had special air-cooled cylinders cast of aluminum with no steel liners. Rather a very thin plating of hard chrome took the direct wear of the moving piston. When the chrome was applied, minute cavities were left on the cylinder wall to fill with oil and provide lubrication.

3) Combustion chambers were nearly hemispherical, with intake vales nearly in the same plane as the piston, but exhaust valves aligned at an angle. Thus, bigger valves and better breathing occurred.

4) The Super (55 H.P.) crankshaft was built up in separate pieces, combined with the Hirth system of serrated joints. Solid end connecting rods ran on roller bearings -- a beautiful piece of engineering.

5) Although the first 356s had a non-synchromesh crash box, a few years in later transmission was fully synchromesh, including in first gear, derived from the use of Dr. Porsche's patented system.

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