Still Wearing Snow Tires: 1960 Porsche 356B

Porsceh 356 Barn Finds

Porsche 356 owners may coddle their cars and who can blame them? With prices in the stratosphere, even a trip to the grocery store could be a nerve racking experience. Things weren’t always that way though. There was a time when people actually used their bathtubs as daily transport. Take this 356B for example. It may have been parked since 1975, but before that it was used for the commute between Long Island and New York City for many years. Adam over at Unobtanium was lucky enough to be able to pull it out and he has listed it here on eBay where bidding is starting to heat up!

1960 Porsche 356B

The story goes that Mr. Cushing traded his 1955 Speedster to his neighbor for this then nearly new 356B. With a roof overhead it was probably a lot more comfortable in the winter. That’s right, it was driven in the ice and snow of the northeast as evidenced by the snow tires which are still in place! Just think if people did that today.

Flat Four

Well, actually I do know one person who might try it. Back when I was still living in Wyoming, I met a nice older woman who had a 356 in her garage. She lived just down the street and any Porsche is a rare sight in that part of the Country. So, there were lots of walks taken in hopes of “coincidentally” catching the owner outside. The day finally came and she was happy to show me her car.

Porsche 356 Dash

She had owned her Porsche for many years and had driven it all over the place. She had it resprayed white at some point just because she wanted a new color. She had a CB radio installed so she wouldn’t get bored on highway excursions. She wasn’t afraid to drive her car and didn’t care what it might be worth. It was refreshing to talk to someone like that and I can just imagine that the former owner of this car was just like that friendly lady who loved her 356.

Bathtube

That’s romantic and all, but the next owner of this car will have to face reality. All that winter driving caught up with the car and the underside is showing the effects. We’ve seen worse, but there’s still a lot of rust under there and it’s going to be expensive to fix. That could explain why nice examples bring so much money at auction. I used to dream about the day I’d own one of these cars, but that fantasy is quickly fading. Perhaps I should have kept that lady’s number just in case she decides to sell someday…

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. DrinkinGasoline

    Surprisingly or not, these share a lot of history with the VW Type 1 and many parts interchange. If a layperson wanted to restore it…it could be done at a relatively reasonable investment. Over the years while restoring my 66 type 1, I’ve amassed a hefty resource library/reference/interchange for parts suppliers and tech resources.
    With some dedication over time, it is certainly possible.

  2. Todd Zuercher

    Always interesting when a seller claims to have a 100% positive feedback rating while the ratings box very clearly states otherwise… Interesting car nonetheless.

  3. Van

    Still don’t understand.
    Small Flat 4, air cooled rear engine, designed in 1938, shares design with the people’s car.
    It’s worth 5000 times more than a Beetle because?

    • Adam Wright

      Drive one, and then drive a beetle, and you won’t ask that question.

      • Van

        I appriciate your statement although it’s not much help. I’ve driven a 911 and 930, and I will tell anyone that few cars have better feedback through the steering. Are you telling me a 356 is faster, corners and stops better than a Beetle and by how much?

    • TRP

      Supply. Demand.

    • Kevin Harper

      Hey Van
      I will take a shot at trying to explain. With your comparison A chevy Biscayne should be equal to a corvette. They both use the same drive lay out, the same motors ect, but the corvette is worth considerably more, but the corvette also is faster, handles better and performs better.
      These items hold true to the Porsche also and the quality of components are better on the Porsche.

      Now time marches on and development continued with the VW flat four. There was a time that a Porsche 1600 made 90 hp and that was pretty good, and the VW made about 60 hp, but now the VW 1600 can easily make 120 hp and if you were to stick this in to say a Karmann Ghia, for lower cg, along with brake upgrades and suspension upgrades you could pretty much leave the 356 for dead. But then you are really comparing a modified car against a standard one, but then again it lends some credibility to your argument.

      Why are they worth so much more, well because there are silly people who will pay that amount. If I really wanted one I would probably buy a replica with the hot VW motor and drive it without worries

      • Adam Wright

        Van, you have to look at where the Porsche 356 placed at the time, it raced on tracks all over the world, against Ferrari, Maserati, OSCA, every racing Marque of the time. There were no VW’s bugs going neck and neck on those tracks. It’s apples and oranges, one was a purpose built sports car and the other was a mass produced every man car. Bettle’s are great and can be a lot of fun, but it is no comparison to driving a Porsche.

      • Bobsmyuncle

        The 356 didn’t have that sucessful a racing campaign and the events that it did run were due to reliability of long distance moreso than handling. I doubt the 356 ever ran against any Ferrari. The racing success that I think you are reflecting on really started with the 911.

    • George

      Van

      Because it is not a Beetle. George

    • Ken K

      I bought a ’65 SC sunroof coupe in 1967 with 12,000 miles on it. I began restoring it around 2000, and rebuilt the engine myself in 2001, using VCR tapes and books for guidance, along with an on-line Porsche Registry. I’ve worked on my own cars for minor repairs and maintenance, but had never rebuilt an engine. It took me about a year of my spare time, but it turned out great. A year later I took it in and spent $10k on a paint job. I installed all the windows, lights, etc. myself and put a new leather interior in it. I also did suspension work, brake lines, etc. It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed working on her. The car had set in my garage for 20 years, so driving it again was really amazing. I’ve now put about 25,000 miles on the restoration. The car back in the day had the best combination of handling and ride quality on the planet, and it still rides far better than a 911 and will keep up with them in the corners unless the 911 driver is pushing the limits. Believe me, it is no VW!

  4. Dolphin Member

    I would be cautious with these cars. At the recent Gooding auction at Amelia Island Seinfeld sold off over a dozen of his Porsches, and the results suggested that the Porsche market might have topped, or worse. About half of the cars sold under the low estimate. Nothing goes up forever, even vintage / racing Porsches.

    • PackardMike

      Sorry Dolphin. Fat fingered the touchscreen…….didn’t want to send report.

  5. Bobsmyuncle

    Who is Adam and what is Unobtainium? A Google search came up empty.

    • Adam Wright

      Bob’s Nephew,
      It helps if you spell Unobtanium the right way.
      http://www.unobtanium-inc.com

      Lots of cool stuff on the blog.

      —Adam

      • Bobsmyuncle

        Hah that’ll do it thanks!

  6. Fred

    “I would be cautious with these cars. At the recent Gooding auction at Amelia Island Seinfeld sold off over a dozen of his Porsches, and the results suggested that the Porsche market might have topped, or worse.”

    I think this could be said of the collector car market in general. Invariably, when investors start investing just for the sake of investment (not love of the hobby), prices skyrocket and then come crashing down. We may be on that precipice.

    • Adam Wright

      The Seinfeld cars not-withstanding,
      This question keeps coming up and I don’t think it’s the prices that are getting lower, what I’m seeing is the quality of the cars is getting lower. Now that Porsches are the “hawt” car, lots of shops who have no business touching a Porsche 356 are buying them up, doing quick and very in-accurate restorations, and then sending them to the big auctions for a quick payoff. I’m getting more and more calls for parts from shops that normally do American Iron or British cars, but they are doing a 356, and they know nothing, and don’t care about the part being correct, they want the cheapest thing that will bolt on the car, so expect lots of repro parts on these quickies too. The end result is you have a never ending stream of cars going to the auctions, and many of the auction houses went from having 2-3 Porsches per auction to over a dozen. But Porsche buyers aren’t stupid, most can see a quickie from a mile away, so it may seem like prices are getting lower or leveling off, but it’s the quality that is suffering, not the prices. You will find the quality 356’s and early 911’s are still bringing very strong money. But the quality cars aren’t the majority of what we have been seeing. Many of those cars never see the light of day anyway, the best cars quietly go from collector to collector.

    • Dolphin Member

      Adam, I get your point about shops that are jumping into the Porsche restoration / auction market, but that’s not the point here. Every impartial observer who I have seen comment on the Seinfeld sale said the results were disappointing.

      You can disregard the Seinfeld cars if you wish, but other than the Sunoco 917/30, which has a less than terrific history, the Seinfeld cars actually do make the point. Seinfeld is one of the best known comedians—and Posche collectors—on the planet. He, Gooding, and the internet promoted his car sale bigtime. Gooding is one of the best, probably about as good at what they do as RM. And the Amelia Island venue is one of the best, probably only second now to Pebble Beach.

      Yet despite all that selling firepower about half of those cars sold under the *low* estimate. I watched the auction live and saw that happen. The post-auction sales didn’t materially change things.

      So if Seinfeld’s cars, offered by Gooding at Amelia Island sell under expectations, then that’s telling us something. That’s the definition of a downtrend, and it’s the opposite of what the best, ultra-low production vintage Ferraris are still doing in auctions now.

      Just to make it clear: we are not talking about the kind of cars and restorations you brought up in your comment. We are talking about a class of cars way above that.

      The stock market topped in May, 2015. It would be surprising if the most expensive Porsches, many of which are not low-production models like the top Ferraris, didn’t pull back, just like many collector cars did in 1990, 2001, and 2008. It’s normal and expected.

      And BTW, I think Seinfeld shot himself in the foot by first listing 14 special Porsches for sale at a high profile auction, and then buying and, pretty arrogantly I think, promoting his purchase of a barn find late Speedster with fading, peeling paint and lots of surface rust for around $550,000 in Sports Car Market. It makes you wonder if he is doing a Henry Gregor Felsen grunge move like in “Street Rod”. I think that will bomb.

      • Adam Wright

        Sorry, I was talking more about the market in general, the regular cars hitting the auctions, that have not been breaking records, whereby people are saying the market is getting soft. I stand by what I’ve been saying, it isn’t the prices that are falling, it’s the quality of the cars that is falling. Add to that more of the sub-standard cars are hitting the market, flattening prices.
        The Seinfeld cars were estimated by Gooding to hit the stratosphere and they didn’t, but many of them still brought great money, people just didn’t pay a 20-30% premium because of a celebrity owner. If Seinfeld raced them maybe, just think of Steve McQueen’s Porsches of the last few years. But while Seinfeld is a well known collector, his ownership doesn’t seem to add a lot of value to the cars, but I think Gooding was banking on more “added celebrity provenance” that didn’t materialize.

  7. Donnie

    Getting kind of tired of always hearing what Seinfeld sold,

    • Mike H. Mike H

      Um. . . Jerry Seinfeld is a collector, not a flipper. He rarely sells anything out of his collection of over (100) mostly Porsche automobiles. He surprised the market recently by deciding to sell off a largish lot (QTY 18) of mostly P-cars (with two VW’s in there also) and the net of that sale (17 sold for a total of $22,244,500.00) being used to gauge the current market. These were mostly rare or unusual cars, and many of them had been restored by Jerry Seinfeld after his initial purchase.

      So I really don’t understand what you mean by “Getting kind of tired of always hearing what Seinfeld sold” when the man rarely turns any part of his collection. Could you possibly clarify?

  8. Olaf E

    Some 6 days ago I submitted this find: https://www.classic-trader.com/de/automobile/inserat/porsche/356/356-a-1600-speedster/1957/39779

    1957 P356 A 1600 Speedster, worse shape, just under 54k kilometers, asking about $ 222,500.00. Lokated in Austria.

  9. rangeroger

    Holy Moly. I think back to when I was in the Navy, stationed in San Diego (my home town), and the girl up the street that I went to high school with, offered me her ’59 356B coupe for $1000. I couldn’t find the money for anything. I was driving a ’65 VW Beetle at the time and was familiar with the layout. But then, I was also offered a 1600 Carrera 4-cam engine at the time for $450 and trade for my 1200 VW engine. Seems the guy had it In a Bug and wanted something milder on the street. It was only 180 hp stock.
    Van, when Porsche was building 90hp street cars, the VWs were on 36 with a major difference in performance and handling.

    • Kevin Harper

      Uhh the 4 cam carrera produced 135 hp stock in final form. Which is really good for the time period, but a long way from 180. They are a pain to work on but the good news is that every part is available now to build one.

  10. rangeroger

    I was probably thinking of the 2-Liter carrera. I do know the engine I was offered was a 1600 and, even at 135 was a whole bunch more than my stock 40.
    I was already learning the problems of increased engine performance in the little 1200. With a Porsche diaphragm pressure plat and competition clutch disc I was proceeding to a series of blown spider gears in the diff.

  11. Van

    Thanks guys, I’m all over the place with cars. I started my love affair after watching “The Great Race”, so as a kid it was brass all the way. After learning how to drive, drive ability, fun and performance won out.
    I think Collin Chapman had the right idea, take off weight and all other functions improve.

  12. Zaphod

    Noisy, unreliable,bad handling POS. 30 years of fixing these horrors has made me swear off them. Rust porn for the more money than brains club.

  13. Alan Brase

    If you don’t understand, fine. If you think they are overpriced, you are right. It is because other people (with money) DO UNDERSTAND. Porsches were the giant killers. Now, they ARE the giants.
    One of my old mentors, Bob, from Minneapolis, said ” you just have to drive one, one that works right, mechanically.”
    Or read Harry Pellow’s first book.
    The 356 was a serendipitous stroke of genius. Confluence of several gifted people created a spirited GT car that was more of a SYSTEM than anything previous. Ferdinand’s dream, Ferry’s drive and Kommenda’s art. (more that I don’t know their names) This car actually placed at LeMans in 1950 with little more than a tuned industrial motor. And with almost no money.
    Nowhere in the same league as a Ferrari or a M-B 300SLR. In the later years, Porsche’s race car program was very well funded and took them to the top of the game, but it was these early 60 and 75 hp cars that laid the groundwork.
    “Cars for people with more money than brains? Yeah, I wish I were one of those. I could get really stupid if I just had the money.”
    In the meantime, I could be really happy with any old 356 chassis to fix up. Rusted or bent or apart. Keep the faith.

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