First launched in 1948, the Ferry Porsche designed 356 was based on early VW Beetle running gear, featuring tuned versions of the Beetles air-cooled, "flat 4" engine. Available in 1100cc, 1287cc, 1290cc and on "Super" models 1500cc, early 356 models have obviously different performance outputs depending on engine size and tune.
The 356 is a very compact sports car, early body styles included Coupe, Cabriolet and the very pretty Speedster variant, which had a lower screen than the normal Cabriolet. Imports into the UK market first started in 1953, all UK cars featured a 12 volt electrical system, early cars shared the inadequate 6 volt system found on the Beetle. Produced until 1955, around 7600 of these first 356 cars were built.