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History of the Jaguar E-type
The Porsche 356C or T6 was manufactured for only two years between 1963 and 1965. It was the swansong and final encore of production of the now iconic 356. It also heralded a new era for Porsche and with that a near total detachment from Volkswagen.
Marketing voices at Porsche understood well the considerable risk of replacing the 356 with the as yet commercially unproven 911. To mitigate this they introduced some technological improvements to the outgoing Porsche 356C making it a theoretical rolling test bed for forthcoming features exclusive to the 911.
One such improvement was all round disc brakes, a first for the company in any production model. This gave enthusiastic drivers the extra confidence they needed to exploit the excellent chassis. There were also numerous changes in comparison to the previous ‘B’ model, the first to display the revised T6 bodywork. The engine cover for instance sported twin air intakes, and a keen eye will spot the larger glass area of the front and rear windows in comparison to earlier Porsche 356′s.
An interesting point to note is around half way through the Porsche 356C’s production run, Porsche took charge of the Reutter coachworks. Up until this time all 356 models displayed the Reutter badge that symbolised the model for many years. The Reutter business was then switched to the production of premium interior seating and given a new and now familiar name, Recaro. The result was that the easiest way to tell the difference between a Porsche 356C and a late model B is the absence of this badge.
Subtle badge engineering was not the only change happening during the twilight years of the 356. There were also engine upgrades and a reorganisation of engine naming conventions in comparison to pre-C models. From the very start of 356 production, the basic engine offered was a flat-four of 1600cc. From 1963 onwards this was changed to an upgraded 1600; the C derivative (picked out in gold lettering below the engine lid) offering 75bhp and the SC with the same displacement but giving 95bhp.
Perhaps the most exciting engine option for the 356 was the rare and tricky to maintain four-cam unit that appeared in the Carrera. Designed by the legendary Ernst Fuhrmann, this engine was a complex masterpiece that was essentially a race engine transplanted into a road car. It’s output was officially rated at 130bhp but many believe Porsche’s conservative estimations of bhp belied a true figure of considerably more.
With the launch of the 911 looming, production of the 356 finally came to an end in 1965. The Porsche 356C was the pinnacle of the model with many enthusiasts favoring it’s excellent balance of comfort, handling and generous equipment levels. This is true today with auction prices of C, SC and Super 90 models reaching impressive highs. The 911 will doubtless live on for some years yet but the legacy of the 356 will always be remembered as the car that originated the formula.