1955 Porsche 356 Pre-A 1500 Continental Coupe

1955 Porsche 356 Pre-A 1500 Continental Coupe

Although Ferdinand Porsche had established his independent automotive design consultancy in the early 1930s, his name would not appear on a car until 1949. When it did, it graced one of the all-time great sports cars: the Porsche 356. The work of Ferry Porsche, the Type 356 was based on the Volkswagen designed by his father, Ferdinand, and like the immortal 'Beetle' employed a platform-type chassis with rear-mounted air-cooled engine and all-independent torsion bar suspension.

Having commenced manufacture with a short run of aluminum-bodied cars built at Gmünd, Porsche began volume production of the steel-bodied 356 Coupe at its old base in Stuttgart, at first in premises shared with coachbuilders Reutter and then (from 1955) in its original factory at Zuffenhausen. In 1951, a works car finished first in the 1,100cc class at the Le Mans 24 Hours, thus beginning the marque's long and illustrious association with Le Sarthe.

The man responsible for introducing the spartan and sporty Speedster to the USA, New York-based importer Max Hoffman, had begun his series of entry level Porsches with the 1500 America, a 'de-trimmed' 356 powered by the Normal (as opposed to Super) engine. For 1955, the 1500 America was superseded by the better equipped, though still 'Normal' powered, Continental. According to Road & Track: "The Normal produced more torque than the Super below 3,000rpm, and in any given gear, from any given speed, could out-accelerate the more powerful car. In deference to its graciousness, German customers called the 1500 Normal "die Dame - the Lady." The 'Continental' name, however, was dropped after little more than a year after objections from Ford. Today, the refined Continentals are among the rarest and most sought after of early 356s.

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Production Start 1955
Country of origin France