But perhaps the most significant gearhead jubilee has to be the Porsche 356 sports car. Motorbooks has released a book commemorating the occasion that should be on every gearhead’s bookshelf.
Porsche 356: The Wellspring
“Large streams from little fountains flow, Tall oaks from little acorns grow.” ~ D. Everett in The Columbian Orator, 1797.
That saying was true over two centuries ago as it is now, and it surely applies to the Porsche 356. Yes, if you want to be mean, you could say the 356 is just a hot-rodded VW, but that assessment misses two crucial points:
1: The 356 is more fun to drive than any bug you can find, and
2: The 356 is the wellspring, the genesis of all that followed.
Think of where Porsche is today. One of the best manufacturers on the planet. Porsche is the preeminent endurance racing brand in history. A company that can stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Ferrari and McLaren, Porsche is a technological and performance standard bearer with few, if any, peers. They are also relatively affordable as a dream car for middle-aged enthusiasts, as others have so demonstrated.
And it all started with a little car that looked like an overturned bathtub.
Author Gordon Maltby Knows His Stuff
Porsche 356: 75th Anniversary is masterfully written by Gordon Maltby. His written prose here is both entertaining and informative. You might know all the facts and figures relayed on these pages, but you’d be a rare Porschefile if you didn’t enjoy relishing all those tidbits again.
Besides, check out the first sentence in Maltby’s bio: “Gordon Maltby has owned 31 Porsches over 50 years, doing most maintenance and restoration himself.” See? Total gearhead. He’s one of us, and he can write a stellar book too!
Clocking in at just over 250 pages, Porsche 356: 75th Anniversary is thorough but not bogged down by pedantic lists and lectures. It artfully tells the story of the car itself but also gives much-needed background into Porsche, both the man and the company.
More Than Just The 356
Porsche 356: 75th Anniversary starts with a bit of history in the 1920s, giving a good account of the automotive and racing world at that time and how this new engineer, Ferdinand Porsche, appeared on the scene (there is also an overview of the time Porsche spent in Austria just after World War II).
Maltby covers the 356 and goes through them all, the A, B, and C series coupes; he covers the Speedster, the Glocklers, and the Spyder race cars. Along with the stuff the factory recognizes, he also does a nice little bit about outlaw builds, Emory versions, and non-authorized cars that add spice to the history of the 356.
Lots of Cool Photos
Like many other titles from Motorbooks, this one is also absolutely loaded with incredible, historic photos from Porsche AG. It’d be tempting to dismiss it as just a coffee table book if it wasn’t for Maltby’s writing. But even at that, it’d be some coffee table book with shots like we find here!
We see images of the pre-war years, factory snapshots, technical drawings and blueprints, and more. Lots of racing shots, of course, but there are also shots of 356s and their owners on the road having fun. The photo gallery above is only a small taste of what awaits Porsche fans who crack open Maltby’s book.
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Chronicles the story of Porsche’s original sports car from the first Gmund coupe to today’s beloved collector car.
Examines the Porsche 356 in popular culture with the likes of James Dean, Janis Joplin, and Paul Newman.
Written by Gordon Maltby, a Porsche journalist and historian for over 50 years.
Perfect For Porsche Diehards
Maltby and Motorbooks have turned out a great book here; every car enthusiast should have a copy, and it’s mandatory for Porsche lovers. If you have a Porsche diehard in your life, it’s a great gift.
To learn more about author Gordon Maltby, take a listen to his appearance on the Cars Yeah podcast with host Mark Greene.
Longtime Automoblog writer Tony Borroz has worked on popular driving games as a content expert, in addition to working for aerospace companies, software giants, and as a movie stuntman. He lives in the northeast corner of the northwestern-most part of the Pacific Northwest.