1958 Porsche 356: Classic, timeless style
During a tour of duty with the United States Army while stationed in Germany, Charles Taylor became impressed with cars built by Porsche. But his attempt to purchase a Porsche in Europe and take delivery of the car in the U.S. did not come to fruition.
As soon as he returned to the U.S., Taylor found a used Porsche to buy. Ever since that first car, a virtual parade of Porsches — both new and used — have passed through his hands.
Since retiring from the Army, a number of friends have sought his advice on acquiring used Porsches. Taylor encouraged one friend to purchase a used 1958 Porsche 356 that was located for sale in Baton Rouge, La.
Records indicate the car, originally built on July 11, 1958 was painted silver with a red leather interior and was initially sold in the U.S. in Illinois. Taylor’s friend bought the car in 2006 and had it transported to Washington, D.C.
When, only a couple of years later, the friend offered the sports car for sale, Taylor was happy to become the new owner of the 1,808-pound Porsche.
When Taylor brought the Porsche 356 to his Stafford, Va., home, the body had been repainted a cream color and the black fabric top had been replaced. The upholstery was now black, including the diminutive folding rear seat. The car also came with a matching cream-colored removable hard top with three glass windows; Taylor reports that his car also has a black tonneau cover.
The 14-foot, 2-inch-long Porsche rides on 14-inch white sidewall tires supporting the nimble car on an 82.7-inch wheelbase. The 6.3 inches of ground clearance is largely responsible for the superior handling. The cockpit is somewhat cozy, at only 65.5 inches wide.
Taylor has long had an affection for air-cooled rear engine cars, and this one is no exception. Secured to the dozen rib vents in the engine hood is a luggage rack, which expands the otherwise-limited luggage space.
The engine is fed fuel through a pair of single-barrel carburetors, Taylor says. The gasoline tank in the front of the car has a capacity of 13.6 gallons. Exhaust from the engine exits through four exhaust pipes. Although American license plates are only a foot wide, the Porsche has two tag lights at the rear to illuminate wider European plates.
At the rear corners of the car are teardrop-shaped taillights, each one installed above a small red reflector. Body-colored front and rear bumpers are accented with a black rubber rail.
“I’ve always liked the over-rider bumpers,” Taylor says.
The headlights on the low-slung car are protected by chrome stone guards. Taylor is pleased that the original 6-volt electrical system has been replaced by a more efficient 12-volt system.
When seated in the driver’s seat Taylor has command of a two-spoke steering wheel accented by a 360-degree horn ring. The floor-mounted, four-speed gear shift lever is easily accessible by the driver’s right knee.
In front of the driver, the instrument cluster is dominated by the 120-mph speedometer and the 6,000-rpm tachometer with a warning red line of 5,000 rpm.
At one time, Taylor briefly considered restoring his Porsche into showroom condition, but has rejected that notion.
“I enjoy driving it the way it is,” he says with a smile. “It’s definitely a 3-footer,” he says referring to the car’s appearance as best when viewed from a distance of 3 feet.
He isn’t the only admirer of his Porsche, which usually attracts a crowd whenever he parks the little white car.
“It’s the most photographed car I’ve owned in my life,” he says.
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