I have often wondered to myself why it is that we are so attracted to the humble little Porsche 356. What is really the big deal? If we are totally rational about it, the 356 appears to be nothing more than a VW Beetle in a party frock. It sounds a bit like a Beetle. Inside, it seems like the same spartan dash. It’s not really that fast, and it even smells like a Beetle. And all of that for $50,000? You’ve got to be kidding.
But luckily, human beings are not always rational. We are whimsical. We have a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality. We recognize that some mechanical things have a certain magic about them. They have a soul that’s bigger than just the hunk of metal and parts they represent.
In The Book of the Porsche 356, Brian Long has opened the door to the glorious history of the beginning of Porsche. This hardcover version of his original 1996 book is not simply a reprint, but has been extensively revised and substantially expanded. The numerous historical photographs transport us back to the original factory in Gmund, to the dusty racetracks and rallies, and brings us the hardy faces of the engineers and the people who made Porsche the icon that it is today. It reminds us of a gentler and more civilized era. An era where battles were fought at Le Mans amongst 1.3 liter cars. An era where a single sales agent in New York could request a new model that would suit his particular customers.
Author Brian Long is certainly not new to this, having more than 40 similarly well-researched automotive books under his belt. And it shows. The book is filled with just enough interesting technical details of every 356 variant produced, yet balanced with telling the engaging commercial story of the early years of Porsche.
I’ve always maintained the more history you know of something, the easier it is to like or love. So ultimately, Brian Long succeeds with his book. He has rekindled my love for the humble 356 Porsche. But more importantly, he has reminded me of the love and enthusiasm I have for this magnificent company.
Today’s Post was written by Etienne Botes. Etienne is an ex-South African living in Switzerland who manages his own currency fund. He has been passionate about cars and classic cars since childhood, and is especially drawn to unique and quirky classics. Etienne has been a life-long Porsche fan and has owned a 944 and a 1989 911. He recently sold his Lotus Esprit Turbo SE in favor of acquiring a 356 sometime in the future.