Porsche updated their 356 into its final incarnation in 1964 with the introduction of the 356C. They used disc brakes all around as well as an optional SC-specification engine that produced 95 bhp. Engine options for the 356C included the 60-bhp Normal engine and the 74-bhp C engine and the 95-bhp SC engine.
Introduced in 1963 for the 1964 model year, the base model Porsche 356 1600C was presented as the entry-level version of the last generation of the Porsche 356. After offering standard/base model versions for the 356 A and 356 B with 60 hp engines, Porsche dropped the standard version as its base model and introduced the successor of the former mid-level 1600 Super engine variant with 74 hp, as the entry-level engine option for the 356 C generation. For the Porsche 356 C, buyers could therefore choose from two 1.6-litre engines, the 74 bhp 1600 S and the 95 bhp 1600 SC. There were also two body styles: Coupe or Cabriolet.
Production of the 356 C began in July 1963 and it ran through the end of September 1965. The 356 had been through many revisions and improvements over the years and by the time the 356 C arrived in 1963, little evidence of its humble Volkswagen origins remained. The 356 C was certainly the most rounded and quality derivative yet.
The steel unitary chassis remained practically unchanged in its transition from 356 B to 356 C. Suspension was fully independent all round with transverse torsion bars and trailing arms plus additional swing axles at the rear. For this latest variant, the spring rates were softened and shorter torsion bars were fitted which increased passenger comfort. A thicker front anti-roll bar was added along with a rubber bump stop above the driveshafts to keep axle travel in check. However, the rear compensating spring designed to keep the back wheels as flat as possible under load was now only available as an optional extra.
Undoubtedly the 356 C’s most significant update was the addition of four wheel ATE disc brakes manufactured under license from Dunlop. Porsche had persevered with drum brakes longer than most manufacturers but the switch to discs was inevitable. The discs themselves had a 227mm diameter at the front and 243mm diameter at the rear. They required subtly modified wheels, hubs and hub caps. Wheel size was unchanged at 4.5 x 15-inches.
Whereas the 356 B had been manufactured with pushrod engines in three different states of tune, the entry level 60bhp variant was dropped when the 356 C arrived. The air-cooled all-alloy Flat 4s used in these cars had their cylinder heads reworked with new inlet and exhaust ports plus a modified camshaft profile to make them more tractable at low speed. They retained the familiar 1582cc displacement thanks to bore and stroke measurements of 82.5mm and 74mm respectively.
The entry level 1600 C had the Type 616/15 designated engine, with 8.5:1 compression ratio and , two Zenith 32 NDIX carburetors. Peak power was 74 bhp @ 5000 rpm and max torque was 86 ft lbs @ 5000 rpm. 0 – 60 mph took 13.5 seconds and top speed was around 107 mph. Whereas the 1600 C engine was little changed from its predecessor, the unit found in the SC featured a number of important developments and much more special. The 1600 C got the familiar four-speed synchromesh transmission and the thicker diaphragm clutch previously reserved for the outgoing Super 90.
Telling the base 1600 C and the SC apart is almost impossible, with the only difference being that were the S and SC badges on the engine lid. Bodies were made by the Reutter coachworks in Stuttgart and Karmann in Osnabruck. While the outside was basically unchanged, on the inside Porsche did fit new seat bases that offered greater lateral thigh support and backrests that were lower in height. The rear seats had marginally lower backrests. Door panels now came with armrests and the floor-mounted heater control was switched to a lever directly in front of the gear stick. Some minor switchgear changes were made that saw a handbrake warning light added to the combination gauge and magnetic closure added to the glovebox.
The Coupe now came with modified vents to improve rear window demisting and a second zip was added to the Cabriolet’s removable rear window. It is worth noting that whereas Cabriolets typically came with full leather interiors, the Coupe’s seats, door panels and rear quarters were vinyl.
Porsche discontinued the 356 C in September 1965. Over 16,500 examples had been produced in little over two years. This figure comprised 13,509 Coupes and 3265 and Cabriolets.