Corvair-Powered: 1960 Porsche 356B Roadster

This 1960 Porsche 356B Roadster is powered by a Chevrolet Corvair 110 engine, and represents a potentially sensible way to get into drop-top 356 ownership for far less money than normal. As a running, driving car that looks pretty solid, you could simply enjoy one of the more valuable air-cooled Porsches for far less money than a restored example, or buy it and begin the restoration from a sensible baseline. Find it here on eBay with bids to over $41K and no reserve.

There has to be an interesting story behind this 356, as the seller mentions it spent 25 years in an outbuilding before entering his garage for the last five. It is a running, driving, and stopping example that comes with some new parts, including a carpet kit, tonneau cover, and soft top. The factory gauges are missing and the seller notes that the 356 wil come with a complete factory interior, albeit one that is not correct for a 1960 model. The car has gained a windshield since the top photo was taken.

No word on what the primered spot on the hood is about, but it has been there since the earliest pictures taken in 2003. The 356 does not seem like a rust bucket, although I have no evidence as to what the underside looks like. The seller calls it “fairly solid” and mentions that it was originally Ruby Red with a black interior, a color combination it should absolutely return to in its next phase of ownership. That said, I credit the current seller for (hopefully) just enjoying a car that doesn’t often get treated like a tired driver.

So what about the Corvair engine? I’m sure it made sense at the time, but you have to hope someone didn’t yank the factory engine under the premise of the Corvair mill being an upgrade, or more reliable. But if it was done to simply keep the 356 on the road when the original Porsche engine expired, then it just makes this car’s story even better. While bidding is far from cheap, the current price is more than fair for a running 356 Roadster that’s not held together by hopes and dreams.

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Put a 180 Covair engine in a VW panel van once. Never figured anyone would stick one in a 356. Fit isn’t a problem though and I bet it’s fun to drive.

    Like 3
    • xrotaryguy

      Our family has a couple turbocharged trucks as well. My mom used to race guys in Camaros with the turbo’d Rampside.

      Like 1
  2. Tom c

    I’d rather take my chances on the Bentley.

    Like 5
  3. Classic Steel

    Wow not thats a Porsche of EPIC proportions.

    I like it …. i am sure it sets off many purist and i get that being a 63 Split Window purist …

    It looks like fun …

    Like 1
  4. glen

    be nice to see the engine bay

    Like 8
  5. Coventrycat

    I’d leave it just the way it is just to watch the purists get their panties in a bunch.

    Like 4
  6. ken tillyUK Member

    I’m a purist but I wouldn’t get mine in a bunch as there are already thousands of original 356’s out there already, so this one would be an absolute delight to look at, and a much better driver I would think. I would love to own it.

    Like 5
    • Dave Mazz

      Of course, what it *really* needs is a small block Chevy… :-) :-)

      Like 1
  7. Bultaco

    It would be cool to return it to original colors and build a higher hp Corvair engine for it. Lose the tacky steering wheel and enjoy it. This assumes that the underside hasn’t turned to Saltines.

    Like 3
  8. JOHN Member

    Upgrade the 110 to the 140 4 carb motor and have fun with it!

    Like 2
  9. TRPIV

    The steering wheel is a Nardi / Nardi replica. Very common for 356s of the era.

    That said, they are a love it or hate it kind of thing.

    • Bultaco

      It would be fine if it was a real Nardi, but it looks like a cheapo knockoff to me.

    • JOHN Member

      I believe the Nardi whels are a little thinner. Every time I see one of these fat wood-like steering wheels all I can think of is how tacky and cheap they look.

      Like 1
      • Tirefriar

        So you are not bothered by the tacky cheapo engine conversion, but it’s the ersatz Nandi wheel that jumps out at you? Talk about an elephant in the room….

        Like 1
  10. DNC

    Blasphemy !

    Like 1
    • Joe

      An enlarged (3 or 3.1 liter), 4 carb “built” Corvair will make that 356 a rocket. Corvair engines are hard to kill.

      Like 5
  11. Rattlehead

    finally a porsche worth owning! a corvair engine is what they need. my dad had a sand rail that was corvair powered that was bad ass. the 67 corvair my mom drove when i was a teen ate 5.0 liter mustangs all day long in a straight line or around corners. those little bastards run good. do y’all remember what Don Yenko started building first? his corvair stingers.

    Like 2
  12. xrotaryguy

    If definitely keep it Corvair powered. It’s a period correct modification so I see no problem. Obviously it drives down resale but there are certainly other reasons to own a fun car.

    Like 3
  13. chrlsful

    didn’t that motor come out super charged oem for a lill while?
    4 pic on CL or flee-bay & not 1 of the engine ona 40K$ sale?
    Q after Q, better stop…

    • JOHN Member

      Corvair engines were available turbocharged in the early body style with the Spyder option, and in the later body style for 1965 and 1966 known as the CORSA. The turbo Spyder was rated at 150 HP. The 65/66 turbo engines were rated at 180 HP, a four carb 140 HP version was the standard or base engine in the Corsa. AS far as sticking one in a Porsche, it was’n uncommon back then. There were also numerous VW beetles, vans and Karman Ghias, not to mention dune buggy’s and sand rails. At the time this conversion was likely performed, the Porsche was basically just a used car.

      Like 7
  14. Tirefriar

    Those Ticked to death to find a Corvair engine is the back of this 356 obviously don’t know or understand the efforts that went into creating these Porsche models. These cars are historical and so was the man who created them. Creating this example would be akin to modifying any Mk Cobra cars with a Lambo 90* v10 motor…. blasphemy indeed.

    • JOHN Member

      It is blasphemy in today’s world, not so much back then.

      Like 7
      • Tirefriar

        Again, learn something about the history of Porsche. Even little understanding of what went into creating this car will make you realize why that would be blasphemy then as it is much now. Don’t put yourself in the league as the imbeciles that call the 356 squashed beetles. Lack of knowledge is no excuse for ignorance.

        Some cars are just outside of being bastardized. BTW, I’m not a current Porsche owner and even then the only Porsche I owned was a 944.

        Have an orphan Corvair engine and still have woodie for a 356 then get a kit and modify it to your heart’s content. History should be left alone….

      • Rodger

        Lack of knowledge actually is being ignorant, by definition it is being ill-informed.

    • Tom c

      Comparing a little pos 356 to a cobra is blaspheme .

      Like 6
      • ken tillyUK Member

        To an original Cobra, maybe, but to a Fake Snake, no way.

    • Ralph

      Its an overrated lowered convertible Bug, lets lay off the mysticism……

      Like 1
    • J_Paul Member

      I’m old enough to remember when 356’s were daily drivers for a lot of people, and you would see them pretty much everywhere around Northern California in the early 80s. Their high values—and the desire for accurate, factory restorations—is a pretty recent development.

      Like most “historical” vehicles in 2019, there was once a time when a 356 was just another used car. And people treated them as such, not as future collectables or museum pieces.

      Like 7
      • Doug

        I’ve owned and sold many vehicles that today are considered collectible /valuable, and in today’s world would never be considered for modification – back then they were just cars, some more desirable than others. In the late 50’s -late 60’s it was common to see MGTDs & TFs with Volvo engines, Austin Healeys , XK120-150 Jaguars and even Ferraris with Chevy V8s, Buick Nailheads, and other swaps done either strictly for performance or because it was less expensive that rebuilding/replacing the original engine when it was no longer viable. I have even seen American V8s swapped into Mercedes Gullwings back in the day. I would consider most Ferraris and Gullwings to be much more iconic and rare than Porsce 356s. A friend had a 1960-61 Ferrari 250GT that he bought with a destroyed engine ( multiple rods through the block, etc. ) for $2200 back in the mid 60s, and put a Chevy 350hp 327 in. He offered it up for sale in 1981, and no one would pay $10K for it, even though the body and
        interior were in decent condition- it just needed a couple of small dings ( smaller than a dollar bill ) fixed and a total repaint. He sold the car to a guy with a period correct Ferrari 250 engine for 35K years later. Had he not bought, modified, and kept the car, it would probably have been scrapped decades before- the new owner sent him some photos of the restored car, and it is gorgeous. So before we get our knickers in a twist, we might want to consider what might have been the fate of this car without the engine swap?
        When the 911 / 912 came on the scene, in the early 60’s, the value of the 356 dropped dramatically. A friend who has always been into non-mainstream stuff, like Ducati 250 and 350 Desmos, a street legal sand rail that we used to cruise in, and other quirky cars & bikes, bought a 1960 Porsche 356 for $ 975 in 1970. The car was basically in what Hagerty would call # 2 condition – very nice, mechanically excellent,, no dents, a few small spots where it was beginning to pit on some of the usual places on the chrome. Most of the guys asked him ” Why ? You coulda bought something faster for a couple hundred more, and we know you can afford it.” He always responded – ” Because it’s fun.and not everybody has one.”

        Like 6
  15. redwagon

    Seriously? 5 pictures? That’s it? 1 from 2003 and the other 4 from 2016? No pictures of the interior, no pictures of the engine bay where the blasphemy is? AND IT IS STILL BID UP TO $41,000+!!!

    It’s a Porsche thing. I just don’t understand.

    Like 5
    • IkeyHeyman

      Presumably there are some bidders who did due diligence with a personal inspection, I know I would have. Vehicle is located about 70 miles from New Orleans, not that difficult to get to but not a great time of year to be traveling.

      Like 1
  16. Mike

    Someone wanted a 911 but all they had was a used 356 and a wrecked Corvair.

    Like 1
  17. Jim Van Lenten

    oversteer !

  18. scottymac

    I always thought these were just like Devins, the 356C designated a pioneering flat six Corvair engine. Ferry just copied a good idea.

    Like 1
  19. Steve

    Would have to see more pictures to consider that price. Looks good but missing so much.

  20. Jaker76

    Someone else said it too–only 5 pictures in the ebay listing???? Very little info on this vehicle to justify the price. Guess if lived close by could do an inspection but more pictures would help to create interest! Walking from this!

  21. Andrew Franks

    It’s simply absurd that the Seller wants that much money. He/she has nothing to sell. it’s what we used to call a bastard car in the car business, a car with many different parts and not worth anywhere near what the Seller is asking. No on this.

    Like 1
  22. pwtiger

    I don’t usually comment on Porsche’s, for some reason they don’t do much for me. But the last comment about the seller wants to much for it…This is a no reserve Ebay auction, there have been 28 bids pushing it over $41 large!?! With 2 days left to go, as crazy as this world of collector cars has been that might double!

    Like 1
  23. JOHN Member

    Why are half the people here so upset at a car that was likely modified years ago and now up for sale? Who ever buys this can do what they want with it. It could have been that the original engine expired and there happened to be a Corvair engine available, and maybe thats all the owner could afford. Maybe they wanted one that would out-accelerate every other 356 and a few other cars also? Who knows? All we do know is that the original engine is apparently gone forever. Who ever restores it will never have a “numbers matching” car anyway. Lighten up people, this is a hobby, it isn’t that life-threatening. Buy what you want, build it or restore it the way you want, drive it the way you want. Take a chill pill guys…

    Like 6
  24. Time

    I may be wrong, I Think I remember hearing when I was a kid when you did a Corvair swap you had to turn the ring and pinion around on the transaxle for the reverse rotation of corvair motor, which was fine on dune buggy .

    Like 1
    • Doug

      The 65 and later Corvairs used the same center section, half shafts, and uprights as the Corvette IRS. To put a V8 in the Corvair behind the transaxle, the ring gear would need to be on the opposite side from stock or you would have 4 speeds in reverse… However , one ingenious fellow put a 215 aluminum Olds in aCorvair, and used a marine cam to reverse the rotation of the engine’s crankshaft. When he was done, the car handled better than stock, and weighed 200 lobs less. More commonly, folks would put a V8 in the back seat of the Corvair, using a pre-’64 Tempest transaxle. Either way, lots of fun, and properly set up, a Porsche slayer on the track.

      Like 1
    • xrotaryguy

      The Pontiac transaxle and the Corvair transaxle are the same. The same transaxle can be driven from the front or the rear. That’s why the Corvair engine rotates CCW.

      Who knows what transaxle is in this thing. Mating the Vair engine to the VW trans is easier. The engine can be modified to run clockwise which is a more durable solution than flipping the VW ring gear.

  25. Doug C

    Ad says it has fiberglass bumpers. It sort of looks like it might have a fiberglass body as well, doesn’t it? Missing the fuel filler door that a real 356 should have?

  26. Skippy

    Interesting sale. As all of us who read BF know, most of the time, there is more (or less) to a quick eBay sale than the seller wants us to know. There are a lot of cheap cars on eBay and there are a lot of sellers who have no idea what they are doing. But when you get up into the $25k+ range, the excuses for not knowing what you are doing, and for not showing more of the car, vanish. 5 pictures? Really? No engine image? No interior? On old image from the previous owner’s garage? Wow. That’s useful. I have bought and sold dozens of cars and as a seller I would be totally ashamed. As a buyer? I would RUN away form this car because the seller put so little effort into actually selling it. Who leaves $5-15k on the table because they are too lazy to clean off the car and take pictures? Somebody who either doesn’t have a clue or is preying on others who don’t have a clue. $10 says this auction suddenly ends (i.e. seller was just testing) or sells and then it shows up again (buyer inspected car and backed out.) I admit I HAVE purchased cars with only a few crappy images, in fact I just bought a BMW that way…..for $500. But there is no way I would put in a bid for $40k on a car with 5 images… Let’s see how this plays out.

    Like 1
  27. rustylink

    Hmmmmmm. you got a big ass 110 motor in the rear of the car that weighs 450 pounds vs. a 356 motor that weighs about half and with some decent tuning gives 90 hp. I am also sure the handling is going to be a little off…

    • JOHN Member

      Corvair engines are nowhere near 450 lbs… depending on a few things, 335 is about tops. The 356 engine is around 225 or so. But yes, you do have additional weight at the rear. But interestingly, think of the difference between the Porsche 912 and the 911 engines, in the same chassis!

  28. bobhess bobhess Member

    Doug C… The early ’60 roadsters didn’t have the fuel filler in the right fender. It was set up like the 356As. I’d guess the folks wanting this car have determined that the basic car is solid and putting the original engine etc. back in it would be worth the work. They only made the roadsters two years and not a whole bunch of them. They sell for a pretty penny at most auctions… and yes I wish I still had the two we owned.

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