The Porsche 356 was the first production car from Porsche. Earlier cars designed by the company included Cisitalia Grand Prix race car, the Volkswagen Beetle, and Auto Union Grand Prix cars, but it was the 356 that changed things forever for sports car enthusiasts the world over. Ferdinand Porsche, Sr. founded the company that still bears his name, but it was his son Ferdinand, widely known as Ferry, who created the Porsche we know today. In the early years after World War II, Ferry designed the 356-the car that made Porsche famous.
Closely related to the Volkswagen Beetle, which Ferdinand Sr. had designed in the mid-1930s, the 356 utilized many VW components-primarily in its drive-line and suspension–as well as its rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive configuration. But what began as a close cousin, or perhaps offspring, of The People’s Car soon evolved into a world-class sports car, as well as a regular race winner. The first production Porsche was also a smash sales success. Ferry had initially hoped to sell 500 examples and needed a couple of years to build the first 50, but by the time 356 production ended in 1965, more than 76,000 cars in four distinct series had been built.