For many people, when the word Porsche is mentioned, the image that comes to mind is Todd Fischer’s 1964 356C Coupe. The car currently graces the “Porsche: 60 Years of Speed and Style in North America” exhibit at the Saratoga Automobile Museum.
The Burnt Hills resident has a number of interesting cars in his garage, including a huge British touring car, but Porsches are what really lights his fire.Bottom of Form
The 356C coupe, with the T6 body, came on the scene in July, 1963 and was the last model in the stellar 356 series. Engine choices were the 88-bhp (SAE rating, corresponding to the old Super) and the 107-bhp SC (which equated to the S90). A rare optional engine choice was the 130-bhp 2.0-liter 4-cam Carrera. Disc brakes, supplied by ATE (Alfred Teves) under license from Dunlop, were standard.
With its fully independent suspension, the newly up-rated brakes and stylish T6 body, the 356C/SC/Carrera was the ultimate representation of the 356 Series. Taut, compact, nimble and sporty, these cars were a relative performance bargain. Prices started at $4,195 for the 356C Coupe and rose to $8,051 for a Carrera cabriolet.
Despite it’s relatively small size, the 356 Porsche featured a rugged unit body, torsion bar suspension, a remarkable Porsche synchromesh transmission design, and that now-famous air-cooled, horizontally-opposed flat four that would rev willingly, in pushrod form, to 5,800 rpm (and in the 4-cam iteration, to 6,200 rpm).
Ken W. Purdy, the leading American auto writer of the day, wrote a now-collectable pamphlet for Porsche called “The Porsche Story.” Although this type of paid effort by a writer, on a manufacturer’s behalf, could be considered something of a conflict of interest, we know from his other writings that Purdy genuinely liked and admired Porsches and was no doubt expressing his honest opinion.
“People who own Porsches may be anything from industrial tycoons to freelance artists,” Purdy wrote, “but they all have two things in common: (1) When they want to go, they want to go; they don’t want temperament, delay or fussiness in their automobiles; (2) They don’t live in ugly houses, they don’t wear ugly clothing, and they won’t drive ugly automobiles. I know quite a few of them.”
After praising the company founder, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, Purdy noted “...it’s over-safe, over-sturdy, over-strong. And a Porsche feels like no other car. It steers like a wish, it brakes as if the great brown hand of legend had appeared from the sky to hold it like a toy, and it runs through corners as a train is supposed to...faster than you’d have believed possible. You almost never see a Porsche driver who looks bored.”
Porsche’s 356 Series continued being exported to the US for the 1965 production year. The C and SC variants were superseded for 1966 by the new Porsche 911 flat six, ($6,490) and the 912, ($4,690) which was essentially the 911 body with a 356SC drive-train. Although there was a large price difference between the new 911 and the old 356, purists took to the new car enthusiastically and the 912 was short-lived.
The original owner of Fischer’s pride and joy, Mr. Voy Mitchell, took delivery at the Porsche factory in Germany on October 2, 1963. Subsequently purchased at an RM auction, it’s been owned by Fischer for 2½-years.
“I’ve owned Porsches since the 1970s,” Fischer says. “I’m not a speed demon. This car is fun-to-drive and just a little tail-happy. I love it!”
When you combine the car’s timeless appearance, Purdy’s summary of Porsche attributes and his description of the people who own them and Fischer’s obvious joy from local drives, it’s easy to see why the Porsche legend has endured for many, many decades.
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