1963 Porsche 356C

Meantime, models and coachbuilders proliferated. Bodies for the Drauz-built Roadster, which continued into the early part of model-year 1962, were also supplied by D’Ieteren Freres, and Karmann in Osnabruck began production of a new fixed-roof notchback coupe looking much like the cabriolet with optional lift-off top in place.

Porsche 356C
The Porsche 356C would be the last 356 produced, to make way for the 911.

Subtle body changes marked the ’62-model T-6 356Bs. Coupe windows were enlarged, and twin grilles appeared on a bigger engine lid. The front lid acquired a flatter lower edge, an external gas filler appeared (under a flap positioned in the right front fender), and a cowl vent was added ahead of the windshield. The series then continued in this form through July 1963, when the 356Cs appeared; these were the last and arguably best of the early pushrod Porsches, available in steadily diminishing numbers through 1965.

Apart from new flat-face hubcaps and a still-larger coupe backlight, the Cs were visual twins to the Bs. Even so, constant improvement was again quite evident. For instance, a lever replaced the clumsy VW-derived heater knob (VW itself made this change a few years later), and seats were more “buckety” than before.

A significant mechanical update was the arrival of standard four-wheel disc brakes (as on the previous year’s Carrera 2). It was quite typical of Zuffenhausen -- and inevitable. Porsches were getting faster, and they needed to stop with equal authority.

Since 1958, Porsche had experimented with a pair of disc systems: its own (ultimately used on the Carrera 2) and a Dunlop design made under license by Ate. The technologies forced a choice between pride and cost. The latter won, and Dunlop’s cheaper system was the one selected.

Though the C-Series lost the 60-horsepower Normal engine, the 75 returned as the 1600C. The Super 90 was renamed 1600SC and given higher compression (9.5:1) to achieve 95 DIN horsepower European. Positive crankcase ventilation was adopted for the U.S. versions of both, along with reshaped ports that improved airflow. The 1600C benefited from a higher-lift cam, while the SC gained small-diameter intake valves and larger exhausts. For 1964, the SC’s Ferral cylinder coating gave way to a new Biral treatment that provided more efficient heat dissipation at less cost. Similar to the A1-Fin brake process, it comprised a finned aluminum shell cast around a cast-iron sleeve.

Porsche 356C
The Porsche 356C featured few exterior improvements over the 356B.

With the Roadster’s demise, the 356C lineup was composed of C and SC fastback coupe, cabrio, and the Karmann notchback coupe. A corporate move with lasting implications for enthusiasts generally and Zuffenhausen in particular occurred in 1963, when Porsche absorbed Reutter and spun off a seat-making division that’s still world-famous as Recaro (from Reutter Carozzerie).

As the most refined of a long line, the 356C is as close to perfect as cars get. Karl Ludvigsen records that in the C’s last season, warranty costs averaged only $8.38 per car, “the lowest in history for Porsche and incredibly low for any car.” The other side of the coin is that 356s of all kinds have long been collectible and thus very pricey today.

After more than 15 years and precisely 76,303 units, the 356 Series was honorably retired in September 1965. Production by type is as follows:

Type

Production

Yearly average

356

7,627

1,090

356A

21,045

5,261

356B

30,963

7,741

356C

16,668

8,334

Those figures wouldn’t occasion toasts at General Motors, but for Porsche, which had started from ground zero with this basic design, they told a remarkable story: one of constant evolution and steady, satisfying growth within the original 1947 concept laid down by Ferry Porsche and Erwin Komenda. Moreover, the ever-improving 356 had brought Porsche international respect as a builder of durable, superbly engineered performance machines at home on road and track alike.

Prosperity naturally accompanied Porsche’s growth and growing renown. The firm had needed four years to build its first 5,000 cars (April 1950 to March 1954), yet by the time of the 356B, sales were running far above that in every calendar year:

Year

Unit Sales

1960

7,598

1961

7,664

1962

8,205

1963

9,692*

* incuding 356C

Of course, the cars themselves had come a long way from the Gmund days and even the early Zuffenhausen 356s. As Road & Track observed: “Gradually, and part by part, Porsche adopted bits, pieces and complete assemblies of its own. Today nothing remains in the way of VW parts, though there are many similarities in arrangement and construction. The modern Porsche is unique, it has had a tremendous success, and it deserves it.”

Porsche Factory Floor
Porsches continued to be built by hand throughout most of the 1960s.

Check out the complete story of Porsche cars, including these fabulous models:

Porsche 356

Porsche 911

Porsche 914

Porsche 924, 944, 968

Porsche 928

Porsche 959

Porsche Boxster

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche Cayman

For more information on Porsche and other exciting cars, see: