Educate me on 356 Variants & Pricing

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FRUNKenstein
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Educate me on 356 Variants & Pricing

Post by FRUNKenstein » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:24 am

OK, full disclosure upfront: I doubt I'll ever buy a 356. Don't get me wrong - I love them. I really enjoy and appreciate the significance of the 356. The circumstances under which the 356 was born and the early examples were built is historically incredible. When I look at a 356, I feel like I'm looking at history, not just a car. But, also, a history that is incredibly interesting and germane to my current affection for Porsches. In other words, I can appreciate a Model T for its history, but a 356 has all that plus "it was the car that started it all." One of my very first Porsche memories was in May 1982, when on high school senior skip week at the Lake of the Ozarks (ironically at the exact same resort where Porsche Parade will be held this year). At the turnoff from the main road to the road leading to the resort was a mechanic's shop. Sitting out front was a very rough 356 coupe. I don't know what year or exact model, and what little paint it had was peeling off. But, still, it caught my eye and I stopped to inquire (I had no money, but I just had to look at it because it was so exotic). I believe the asking price was $3,200, which was crazy money to me back then. I always wonder what happened to that little 356 though.

So, just to feed my interest, can any of you guys educate me a little on the different 356 variants? What are the most desired (Super 90?)? And what can you expect to pay for one, in say, good "driver" condition (I actually drive my cars, so not interested in the Pebble Beach condition)? Also, what can you expect to find on the market nowadays? Is "true miles unknown" pretty commonplace? Does mileage even matter anymore? Does accident history really matter? If I found one with torn seat covers and ratty interior, how expensive is it to spruce up a rough interior, again assuming you are just making it a "driver"? I assume a rebuild on an engine is not that expensive as the engines were pretty basic - correct? If you came across a "barn find" somewhere (like the 356 from my story above), and you wanted to turn it into a decent driver, would the following budget be about right?:
Paint $5,000
Interior Refresh $2,500
Engine rebuild $5,000
Other mechanical servicing for bringing various systems up to operating condition: $5,000
Meaning rough estimate to turn a barn find into a decent driver being about $15,000 to $20,000?
So, if I came across a rough condition barn find 356 and paid say $15,000 to buy it, then spent $20,000 fixing it up, I would assume I wouldn't be in too bad of shape on the car, correct? I wouldn't think you could touch a decent driver-quality 356 of any variant for under $35,000, could you?
www.kansascityautomuseum.com
Current:
2002 996TT X50, Guards Red
1987 928S4 Guards Red
1987 951 Guards Red

2006 955S Arctic Silver
2006 955S Lapis Blue
Gone but not forgotten: 1999 996 C4 Aerokit Black; 1990 964 C2 Guards Red

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Groovzilla
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Re: Educate me on 356 Variants & Pricing

Post by Groovzilla » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:04 pm

During the late 1980's and 1990's my photo studio was located in downtown San Francisco - I had a good gig - Flying down from my home in Seattle to SF every Friday and returning Sunday night. I had a lot of spare time and would look for "driver" and lesser non-driving/rusty example 356's and ship them to Seattle. I did this for years. Some of the cars were nice restorable examples and others needed dismantling to sell the parts. It was addicting and fun and thats when Ebay started so the combo was a good money maker for a hobby.

Back then I had lots of good contacts and there was a great 356 crowd. We all knew one another and helped whenever needed for parts/info/etc.
I was fortunate to own an original 1953 356 bent window sunroof coupe - jade green with tan interior - sunroof is also bent to match the windshield profile. Owned this car for 3 years.
I also owned/restored a 1959 super sunroof coupe - silver w/black interior - this had the super engine and sunroof - both sunroof and super rare and hard to find combo - I owned this car for 10 years and sold it in 2015.
Restored a 1965 356 Sunroof coupe - Silver w/black - restored to sell it and this was back in 1995.

I learned a lot about all the different models and at that time, the prices weren't outrageous like today.
Basic info on year/models:
1952-1955- Pre-A *includes bent window made in 1953/54 - Beehive tail lights/drum brakes - 16" wheels
1956 - 1959 356A - transition to Beehive tail lights - 15" wheels
1960-1962 356B
1963 - 1965 356C - disc brakes
*I think the 356A from 1957-59 are the best looking.
Stock 356's are somewhat under powered, engines run hot and don't cool well and pretty basic - I've driven from Seattle to SF and Los Angeles about 8 times round trip in 356's but that was years ago.

The market has changed so much and some parts are expensive like diamonds. Some parts were pricey back then but these days there are many 356's with reproduction parts and people buy unaware. Also many of the cars for sale are not matching numbers cars.
A matching number car has matched #'s according to the build sheet or cardex: vin#, body panels(trunk/rear deck lid/both doors), matched engine and transmission numbers and paint#.
There are also certain stamped letters or #'s on certain pieces:
-"hella" should be stamped on the rear shine up or shine down license light - license light lens should be glass not plastic.
- beehive tail light bezels and front parking light bezels should be stamped with proper numbers
- correct "hella" headlights
- fuel tank stamped with correct date
- wheels/spare wheel should be stamped with correct corresponding dates
- correct leather spare tire strap
- correct toolkit
- european cars had no overider bars, USA cars had the overider bars - in late 1959 the front overider bars were higher.

Then you have different models - Speedster, Coupe, Convertible, Convertible D(1959), Roadster(1964/65) - Karman coupe in 1960-61 which also called notchback.

Prices today??? Outrageous - Back when I was heavily involved you could fine nice 356A coupe drivers for $18K - sunroof got premium $23K - sunroofs always desired and much more value.

I've always been partial to the 1958 or 1959 356A - Beautiful deco design and 59 was last year of A coupe and my birth year. I just don't like the later style B & C cars.
Today you will be spending $70-$90K for a nice 58 or 59 356A driver and maybe more.
Restoring a 356A will cost a small fortune and u must remember once you finish you won't want to drive it - Won't want to risk theft or scratches/dings - Trust me on this one because I went thru it.

A 356A is a nice Sunday driver - Beautiful to look at and a simple car with little heat to keep you warm, the smell of burning oil, not so good brakes and not much power. If you don't expect much in the way of performance they are fun. And best of all really nice to look at.

**If you decide to buy one:
RUST is an issue with any 356 you find - Doesn't matter where it lived - Floors get rusty, battery box gets rusty, closing panels rust, door bottoms/etc - And most all have had extensive rust repair. Also need to have engine compression/leak down tested, transmission checked by professional, etc - need to have proper PPI guy who is 356 expert - Too many unknowns for prices being paid. **Parts are expensive - transmission gears can be $1000 each, bearings $500, etc.
**If you decide to buy one educate yourself on everything you need to know - So easy to get ripped off these days
Last edited by Groovzilla on Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
2005 997 S - Atlas grey w/Full black leather

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Groovzilla
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Re: Educate me on 356 Variants & Pricing

Post by Groovzilla » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:11 pm

...and basic figures for paint/repair/etc:
paint: depends on significance of rust and quality of paintwork - little to no rust $8000. lots of rust w/floor pans needed $12,000-$20,000
engine rebuild: depends what needs to be replaced - most certainly machining will mean new bearings/pistons/etc - I'd figure $8000 for proper rebuild. add another $1200 for carbs and better upgraded oil cooler.
interior refresh: again depends what you want - new door panels, interior pieces, carpets, seat re-done, headliner, seals/etc could run as high as $7000-$9000 to have done properly.
2005 997 S - Atlas grey w/Full black leather

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FRUNKenstein
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Re: Educate me on 356 Variants & Pricing

Post by FRUNKenstein » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:04 pm

Thanks Groov - great info! Really good start to a thread that hopefully will be helpful to many in the years to come.
www.kansascityautomuseum.com
Current:
2002 996TT X50, Guards Red
1987 928S4 Guards Red
1987 951 Guards Red

2006 955S Arctic Silver
2006 955S Lapis Blue
Gone but not forgotten: 1999 996 C4 Aerokit Black; 1990 964 C2 Guards Red

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Groovzilla
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Re: Educate me on 356 Variants & Pricing

Post by Groovzilla » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:16 pm

I have a couple of friends with nice 356 drivers - if you ever want to buy one let me know
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Re: Educate me on 356 Variants & Pricing

Post by FRUNKenstein » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:49 am

Thanks for the offer - good to have someone with experience like you out there to help. I'll probably hold off adding any more cars to the "fleet" for about 3 years (to get my house paid off and have the auto museum moved out of my building - giving me space for about 14 cars plus another 6 at home). That being said, from time to time, an opportunity pops up, and as you can tell, I'm definitely not a 356 expert.
www.kansascityautomuseum.com
Current:
2002 996TT X50, Guards Red
1987 928S4 Guards Red
1987 951 Guards Red

2006 955S Arctic Silver
2006 955S Lapis Blue
Gone but not forgotten: 1999 996 C4 Aerokit Black; 1990 964 C2 Guards Red

User avatar
Groovzilla
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Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:03 am
Location: Seattle, Wa.

Re: Educate me on 356 Variants & Pricing

Post by Groovzilla » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:16 am

Denny Aker, who owns Aker's Porsche repair is also well known for his expertise in the 356 world. He also did a lot of racing in his Porsche "Pooper" which is a rare car built for land speed records
His shop which, is now run mainly by his son Mark, is 5 blocks from my house on Capitol hill in Seattle.

Denny has an incredible collection of 356's - He's got a speedster from every year, 356A coupes, 356C coupes, some 356 roadsters, cabriolets and a huge collection of early original parts/engines/etc. ALso collection of early 911's as well as rRolls Royces and Older American cars. He also has 2 original 356 4 cam engines in crates that have never been used - these alone are probably worth $600K@ today. Just an amazing collection from 50 years of wrenching and racing.
His delivery vehicle is a VW Vanagon has a 930 Turbo engine.

Denny hosts the 356 Bull Session every year at his warehouse. Fun get together that attracts 150-200 people with their 356's

You couldn't meet a nicer, knowledgeable, more honest mechanic - Great guy and always been fortunate to have him so close to my house for my Porsche repairs.
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