Porsche 356B (1960 - 1963)
At the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1959, Porsche launched the 356 B. It featured a number of visual and mechanical updates but retained the essential Porsche DNA that made the 356 such an attractive proposition. Two variants were produced: the T-5 from September 1959 to August 1961 and the T-6 from September 1961 to July 1963. Ignoring the expensive line of four cam Carrera derivatives, customers could choose from three different engines that variously produced 60bhp (1600), 75bhp (1600 Super) and 90bhp (1600 Super 90). Three body styles were also available: Coupe, Cabriolet and Roadster. A curious short-lived variant known as the Karmann Hardtop was produced between 1960 and 1962.
Introduced in the 1960 model year, the 356B featured a number of appearance changes. The bumpers were raised about four inches front and rear, with a different shape and large vertical bumper guards. The headlights were raised so that the fender line was almost horizontal from the cowl to the headlight rim. There was a horn grille above the bumper and a brake cooling grille below the bumper, adjacent to where fog lights could be mounted as an option. It was the first coupe to have a front vent window, previously used only on the Cabriolet.
The 356B's brake drums had radial fins instead of the circumferential fins of the earlier models. The transmission was changed to a type 741 with a different shifter. The first 1960 356B models used a single front transmission mount, but this didn't locate the transmission well enough, so after 3,000 cars had been produced Porsche reverted back to the double mount system used on the 356A.
Aside from switching to Zenith 32 NDIX carburetors, the 1600 and 1600 Super engines were left practically unchanged and retained the same type numbers used before. Super 90s ran the Solex 40 PII-4 carburetors fitted to the Carrera. One change made to all 356 B engines saw the cast-iron rocker arms replaced with alloy components. Unlike the other two engines, the Type 616/7 unit found in the Super 90 featured a host of upgrades. These included more substantial rods, larger main bearing journals, bigger inlet valves, re-worked light alloy cylinder heads and light alloy cylinder barrels instead of cast iron. This motor was immediately identifiable by its silver instead of black fan housing.
The main other change on the flagship Super 90 was a compensating rear spring to keep the back wheels as flat as possible under load. As part of the package, softer rear torsion bars were fitted (reduced from 24mm to 23mm). This arrangement was a cost option on the 1600 and 1600 Super. Also present on the Super 90 were adjustable Koni springs. The new Super 90 model was intended to replace the costly and complex four-cam Carrera as the high-performance 356. The combined effect of all these changes saw it become easily the best handling 356 yet. With a 90-hp version of the 356 engine, the Super 90 performed almost as well as the Carrera and had far fewer engine problems. In the meantime, a new Roadster replaced the Convertible D. It was essentially the same car but updated to 356B specifications.
In 1961, Karmann began to produce a hardtop version that was called the notch-back. It looked similar to the Cabriolet with a detachable hardtop, which Porsche had offered as an option, starting with the 1958 models. Karmann hardtops were only offered as 1961 and 1962 models, with 1,048 built as 1961 T5s and 699 1962 T6s. There were 15,354 T5 356BS built in 1960 and 1961. This is broken down as 8,559 Coupes, 1,048 Karmann hardtops, 3,094 Cabriolets, and 2,653 Roadsters.
For 1962, the 356B was updated with a T6 body. The T6 had a squared-off front hood and a larger windshield and rear window, and the fuel filler was moved from under the hood to under a flap in the right front fender. Twin engine grilles improved cooling. The battery was moved to the right side of the trunk compartment, and space was made on the left side of the trunk floor for an optional gas heater. There was also an air intake vent on the cowl to provide better ventilation for the passengers. The heater was modified and could mix fresh air from the cowl with heated air from the engine compartment; you could direct fresh air, heated air, or a combination to the windshield and through a vent above the driver's and passenger's feet. The fuel tank was revised to a flat shape and became the bottom of the storage compartment.
The Roadster was produced in 1962, but only 200 were made before it was discontinued. Total production of T6 356BS in 1962 and 1963 was l6,038, which was comprised of 12,039 Coupes, 699 Karmann hardtops, 3,100 Cabriolets, and 200 Roadsters. The '63 models remained very similar to the 1962 models. Both Karmann and Reutter built Coupes, Reutter built Cabriolets, and Drauz and D'leteren built Roadsters. Early Roadsters were built by Drauz and later ones by D'leteren, including 200 1962 dual-grille Roadsters. The Reutter body-manufacturing operation was sold to Porsche in 1963, so the bodies from this factory were considered Porsche bodies in subsequent years. Karmann continued to manufacture bodies as well. Reutter continued to manufacture seats under the Recaro name, which was derived from a combination of Reutter and Karrosserie.
Production of the 356 B continued until September 1961 when Porsche replaced the T-5 with the T-6. Unveiled at the 1961 Frankfurt Motor Show, it was the T-6’s body and interior that came in for the most attention. Most easily identifiable was the enlarged engine lid which now came with two cooling grilles instead of one. The T-6 also came with a larger windscreen (and a bigger back window in the case of the Coupe) plus a thicker alloy surround.
The Super 90 lost its ‘Super’ tag and was re-branded simply as ‘90’. It now came with a thicker clutch plate while the 75bhp engine was given a new type number (616/12) but remained technically unchanged. In June 1962, the Karmann Hardtop and Roadster were dropped owing to poor sales. Production of the T-6 continued until July 1963 when the 356 C was launched. By this time over 31,000 356 Bs had been built.