- It was colloquially called “the bathtub”. Accurate, but that moniker doesn’t begin to convey the joy the Porsche 356 was to drive.
- This 1963 Porsche 356B 1600 Super, currently at auction on the Bring a Trailer website, it can be expected to sell into six-figure territory.
- How much, we won’t know until the auction ends on Sunday, March 6, but by March 3, bidding had reached $50,000.
Driving a car with just 75 horsepower might not sound exciting, but many thousands of Porche 356 owners would probably disagree. First-generation Porsches like this 356B coupé, currently on sale at Bring a Trailer— who, as Car and driver, part of Hearst Autos – are coveted, collectible and expensive. When in top form, like this 356B 1600 Super ivory on red, they can fetch well over $100,000. And consider this model to be in the mid-range; the rarest high-performance 356 Carreras cost several hundred thousand dollars.
It’s not the rarity, however, that drives up the prices of these so-called Porsche bathtubs, nicknamed because they look like upside-down bathtubs. Some Porsche experts estimate that there could still be 20,000 or more. They were and remain a pleasure to drive. They’re light, nimble and comfortable – part grand tourer and part sports car, which is what we say about today’s 911. We said the same thing when this car was new too, during a test drive of a 356B Coupe virtually identical to our October 1963 print issue. We called it a luxurious “man’s express”. ‘business’ that also “does everything most sports cars try to do”. We declared it “a car beyond compare in the literal sense; there is nothing like it in any the price.”
The 356 line started in 1948 and evolved through six generations, although some were closer to facelifts, with many design changes and mechanical improvements along the way. Convertible, hatchback and Speedster models were added over the years. The final 356C (essentially a 356B with the addition of four-wheel disc brakes) was built in 1965.
The 356B for sale here is a 1600 Super, which was the GTS of its time: a higher performance version of the standard model. The Super’s 75-hp, 1582cc flat-four is a boosted version of the base car’s 60-hp engine. It doesn’t sound like a big improvement, but it does represent a 25% increase in power. Although its 0-60mph time of 12.8 seconds was hardly fast even by 1963 standards – remember, this was the dawn of the muscle car era – what it lacked in speed in a straight line was more than compensated in agility. It was a car that liked to play on twisty roads. It was also a happy cruise on American highways; after all, he had been raised in the land of open highways.
The seller of this 356B reports that it was bought by his father in 1998. The car left the factory in this same ivory color and was repainted in 1999; the luscious red interior was redone at this time. It is powered by a matching numbers engine, which means it still has its original powertrain under the rear deck. The engine was retired earlier this year for servicing and replacement of its rear main oil seal. The bodywork for this car was supplied to Porsche by Karosseriewerk Reutter, as evidenced by the gold badges on its front fenders. (Porsche bought Reutter in 1963.) The only modification to this car is a set of aftermarket Koni shock absorbers – an upgrade made to many European sports sedans or sports cars in the 1960s.
The 1600 Super for sale here comes with a Porsche Certificate of Authenticity confirming that its VIN, interior paint and colors, engine and transmission identification numbers are correct. The photos confirm the rest: that it is a beautiful bathtub. As of Thursday, March 3, bidding was $50,000 and bidding ends Sunday, March 6.
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