The 356 was Porsche's first production car, entering service in 1948, not long after the war. The first cars were built in a small workshop factory in Gmünd Austria.
Like some other small sportscar firms at the time, the 356 was based on more prosaic underpinning, in this case, the VW Beetle, which had been developed by Porsche in the late 1930s. As the 356 evolved, more and more VW parts were substituted for purpose-specific, Porsche-designed parts. The original cars had a 1,100 cc, flat-four developed from the VW unit, but with nearly twice the power.
In 1955, the 356 was updated to 356A specification, with a more production oriented manufacturing system, by which time the firm had opened a much larger facility in Germany, its current home, in Stuttgart. The 356A used a 1,300 cc boxer four-cylinder engine. Key to lively performance was a low vehicle weight.