Available in all body styles, the Porsche 356 A Carrera featured the race car-derived 1500 cc four-cam engine (type 547) developed for the Porsche 550 Spyder. Rated up to 110 hp, it was the top performance 356 A model available. Variants included the Carrera 1500GS and Carrera 1500GT, differentiated by their horsepower. In 1958, Porsche updated the Carrera engines (now type 692), increasing the displacement up to 1600 cc and output increased to 105 and 110 hp respectively. In 1959 horsepower for the GT increased again to 115.
In May of 1957, Porsche offered two distinct versions of the Carrera, one called the de Luxe for the street and this model, the Gran Turismo, for the track. The main difference between the two models was weight. The Carrera GT was a purpose-built car with little on board amenities. For instance, no heater was fitted giving the car its 'icebox' nickname. Furthermore, the interior was stripped of sound deadening, side windows were replaced by pull-up Perspex units and only simple door panels were fitted.