Brian Long’s original book on the Porsche 356 was published in 1996, and this was later printed in softback form. A few years later a revised version of this book was published which included more colour and detail. That, though, was still a bit of a lightweight according to the author. This issue, now the third edition covering the 356, has been totally overhauled from start to finish, and is much larger too.
This edition, which is a far more focussed book, loses those sections previously covering buying tips and replicas, and gives the reader a greater sense of the model’s importance and qualities. In fact, it is the opinion of this reviewer, that the 356 is possibly one of the most important sports car models of its era, when you consider what else was available on the market in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s. The Porsche 356 was just way ahead of the rest of the manufacturers in this market segment, which was largely populated by heavy ladder-framed sports cars with upright radiators that raised the height of the bonnet considerably. With the 356 being rear-engined, and being able to dispense with the water-cooling system altogether, the 356 was lighter and more streamlined.
Although this is a much revised and updated edition of a favourite subject for many, it has lost none of its charm and sensitivity with which Long has covered the 356 model. Yes, there are numerous new colour photos, but these are newly discovered as opposed to newly shot images of the 356. These have been carefully and sympathetically selected to illustrate this important model, and really give the book a quality, and warm feel.
The Porsche 356 was, of course, initially intended as a production roadgoing model, but it was not long before enthusiastic owners began to compete with the very capable sports car. The model’s sporting achievements are dealt with in the text along with the rest of the car’s history and development. This has the benefit of showing the reader how each model evolution was developed and improved through the 356’s motorsport and rallying accomplishments.
It was always important to Ferry Porsche that the 356 should be promoted as a capable and sporty roadgoing motor car. With this in mind, the 356 was marketed to the buyer who had the luxury of leisure time for sporting pursuits such as golf, skiing, horse riding and yachting. This is why so many of Porsche’s advertising and marketing campaigns show 356 owners in settings that would illustrate this lifestyle. Far from being elitist, the sports cars market was a fast-growing sector across Europe and America as the world freed itself from the shackles of the war. The 1950s was a time of growth in many markets and the 356 was a model ready for the sports car market.
The author has taken advantage of Porsche’s extensive archive of resources, and as a result, the book is generously populated with marketing and promotional brochures and spec sheets. Far from being overrun with brochures, these have been carefully selected to support the various models in the book where appropriate. At the end of each section devoted to the 356 A, B and C, the author has compiled a useful table of engine Types as used in the models covered in that section.
With more than 80 titles published to date, the author’s style of writing makes for very easy reading and as an engineer with an in-depth knowledge of Porsche’s models, he is able to easily explain technical issues for the average reader. A useful aspect in respect of the mechanical issues, is the author’s use of period technical drawings to illustrate the text.
The subject covers all the Porsche 356 models from the Gmünd cars to the very last production models, making this exclusive edition an important reference for all 356 enthusiasts. The book has been well researched, and charts the definitive and fascinating story of the Porsche 356 from 1948 to 1966, including all the racing and rallying cars that sprang from the production car. Included are charts and tables giving colour and trim options, range details, engine specifications, chassis numbers, and production figures for the 356.
The Ultimate Book of the Porsche 356 is available only as a leather-bound, collector’s edition presented in a sturdy slip-case, and is limited to just 356 individually numbered copies. This publication is truly a Catalogue Raisonné for the world’s most discerning Porsche 356 enthusiasts. If you count yourself in that group, then you do not want to be found without a copy of this publication – stock is due early December.
|Title||The Ultimate Book of the Porsche 356|
|Print run||Limited to 356 hand numbered books|
|Page count||256 pages|
|Image count||545 B&W and colour images|
|Format||250 mm x 250 mm, leather bound hardback with dust jacket & slipcase|
|Price||£365.00 incl. postage for UK & Europe (P&P only applies to ROW customers)|
Written by: Glen Smale