A true milestone car
The fuel-tank was rusty on the inside so the carbs got messed upp right away. I had to treat the tank with (citric-) acid to cure the rust and clean the carbs. They had approx 10mm of sludge in them. A wonder that it started up at all.
The car looks like "a cute, small sportscar" but it is far from cute to drive. It is very demanding and nothing you just drive along in. If you loose focus for a fraction of a second you might end up crashing. The steering is so direct that I seriously wonder if it would be possible to steer it with telepathy alone. Very noisy at high speed.
It's fairly quick by todays standard (like an 80's GTi) and must have been very, very fast in those days. The one I have is the only one I've driven so far and I guess my chassie has a pretty tight setup. One must keep in mind that all 356s have been restored over the years and that the restorers have influenced the individual characteristics. Other cars might have a softer appearance.
The prices of these cars have sky-rocketed to insane levels. I was lucky enough to find one, ready to drive, at a very reasonable price (in fact for the same price as many asks for a rusty body sans engine & interior). The previous owner had kept it virtually rust free. It needs a new paint job and a new interior, but it'll be well worth the bucks spent.
Parts are easily available, both through Porsche and through specialists. Pieces of bodywork are expensive. To make things worse, the can't be installed without great pain as all the doors and hoods were individually fitted. You can't take a door from one car and fit it to another without expecting lots and lots of work. Mechanical parts on the other hand are quite cheap as long as you avoid Porsche. They are relatively easy to work on. If you feel confident with working on a Beetle, then a 356 should be no problem.
I'm very happy to have been able to snap one up. People stop you on the street to ask questions, honk their horns and wave, gives you thumbs up, put flowers on you car etc. Everyone seems to love it. It is a thrill to drive and doesn't cost a fortune to maintain.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 19th October, 2005