I just wrote a short blurb on Euromasters Classic Porsche reproductions for Augustman.com and it really got me thinking about the history and heritage of this automotive icon. Sure, I might get unduly tempted to spend hard earned money on one after all the research but Euromasters really makes it affordable for you to own a great piece of automotive history- especially if you’re not named Ralph Lauren.
What makes the Porsche 356 a classic
It was Porsche’s first production car. Lightweight and rear wheel drive, it was the precursor to another iconic vehicle to come- the Porsche 911. Designed and created by Ferry Porsche, the son of founder Ferdinand Porsche, the 356 was similar in both engineering and aesthetics to his father’s Volkswagen Beetle.
Four cylinder, air cooled and powered by a rear drive engine, the 356 shared common ancestry with the Beetle- engine, suspension and chassis; the body however was to be the blueprint for all other Porsches to come after it. The later 50s saw the Porsche 356 depart in terms of mechanics and construction with a greater emphasis on speed and aerodynamics which saw it use lighter frames than its “People’s Car” cousin.
Such was it’s popularity and excellent build quality that eventually orders for this beauty broke 10,000 in 1964. Today, 76,000 356s still remain in the collections of car aficionados.
356, James Dean and the passing of a Monsieur
Rebel without a cause and pop culture icon, James Dean shares bad boy appeal with one other luminary of his time- Steve McQueen. The only difference is that McQueen was reformed, James continued his seductive Luciferian ways, the movie that solidified his star status? Player loner Cal Trask in East of Eden. It was this movie that motivated him to upgrade his red MG TB to a 1953 Porsche 356 Speedster. Movie star turned racer, he was 3rd at Bakersfield and 4th at Santa Monica.
Culturally, it was the movie Rebel Without a Cause that shot his fame into the stratosphere. His bad boy reputation by that time, earned him a contractual racing ban. James was in fact, the owner of many sports cars but none were more loved by him than his Porsche. In fact, such was his love for the car that finally met his end in a racing accident on September 30, 1955.