The 356 was Porsche’s first production model - a tubular chassis prototype called “No. 1.” It was lightweight and nimble, with a rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive and two doors, available in hardtop coupe and open configurations.
The 356 was created by Ferdinand ‘Ferry’ Porsche, son of Dr. Ing. Ferdinand Porsche, the company’s founder (Ferdinand Senior designed the Volkswagen Beetle). Its body was designed by Porsche employee Erwin Komenda, while its mechanicals were derived from the Volkswagen.
Production started in 1948 at Gmund, Austria, where approximately 50 cars were built. These were handcrafted in aluminum. In 1950 the factory relocated to Zuffenhausen, Germany. Models produced from then on were steel-bodied.
Increasing success with its racing and road cars brought Porsche orders for over 10,000 units in 1964. General production of the 356 continued until April 1965, by which time approximately 76,000 had been produced. About half of these remain in use or in collections.