After designing legendary cars in the prewar era such as the Mercedes SSK, Porsche moved south from Germany to Gmünd, Austria to design his own cars. The very first of these was a small roadster made around VW components. Afterwards, it was decided a closed coupe with the engine behind the rear wheels was most advantageous.
Together with Erwin Komenda, Porsche designed the Gmünd Coupé in just three months. The first Coupe was finished in june of 1948 and by mid-1949 more than 40 had been completed. These Gmünd coupes featured a hand-beaten aluminum body and were powered by a air-cooled boxer-4. This general layout would shape every Porsche that followed thereafter.
Subsequent transfer back to Zuffenhausen meant that body production of the 356 would be relocated to Reuter and the aluminum was replaced by steel. However, Porsche kept a supply of alumunum bodies for their own use as factory competition cars. Known as the Super Liecht (SL) or Sport Light they were much lighter than the the regular outgoing 356.
Porsche prepared three such Coupes for their first attempt at LeMans. On the 23rd/24th of June two 356/2 Gmünd coupés with aluminium bodies were on the starting grid. In their first attempt, Auguste Veuillet and Edmond Mouche were victors in the class up to 1100 cm3. This was also the first victory for a German sports car in international racing after the war. Only about 30 of the total 47 Gmund coupes are known to exist. Only 7 or 8 of these were factory works racecars.
In 1950, eleven remaining Gmund chassis were assembled after the factory returned to Germany and converted to SL (Sport Leicht) racing specification. Renumbered as 356/2 3000 series cars, they received 1,086-cc engines, enlarged fuel tanks, louvered quarter-window covers, wheel spats, streamlined aluminum belly fairings, and a pedestal-mounted shifter. Three Type 356/2 cars raced at Le Mans in 1951; two crashed, but 356/2-063 performed flawlessly, winning the 1,100-cc class.