Following the success of the original 356 (now known as the “Pre-A”), the 356A was introduced. It was part of factory designation “Technical Program 1” (T1), followed by a revision in 1957 that resulted in T2. An open Speedster version aimed at the U.S. market along with a high-performance four-cam Carrera GS model were offered in addition to the standard coupe, cabriolet and later Convertible D models.
Changes to the outside of the 356 were minimal, but a larger 1600cc engine was introduced along with revised suspension and wider tires. A keener eye will notice the addition of a rub strip below the doors and the use of enamel paint in place of lacquer. Interior changes were similarly minor with a flat-face dashboard following the contour of the now curved instead of bent windscreen. Other options were the provision for a modern radio, courtesy lighting and a dash clock.
For the 1957 model year, a revised T2 model was released with the exhausts now routing through the rear bumper over-riders. Mechanically, carburation was changed to Zeniths from the previous Solexes.
The 356A was available with a total of five different four-cylinder engines, ranging from the 1300cc unit with 44bhp to the 1500cc Carrera GS that made 100bhp. From its inception, the Porsche 356 was engineered and constructed to make the most of its competition pedigree. This shows in abundance in the road manners and handling. Whilst other manufacturers were using increased capacity engines to gain performance, Porsche concentrated on lightness and engineering balance to achieve these aims, in many cases out-performing comparative machinery with sometimes twice the horsepower.
Rust is the principle consideration of Porsche 356 purchase and ownership. Complex body construction methods ensured plenty of hidden areas where serious structural rust can take hold. Consequently, properly restored or sound original cars command a high premium. Any 356A is a desirable car. The car's long-standing appeal has been enhanced over the years by competition success and the growth of the Porsche brand as a whole.