Kit Car, January 2008
By D. Brian Smith
Produced from 1948-1065, the 356 is generally accepted as Porsche’s firs production automobile. But Dr. Ferdinand Porsche created the Type 64 aerodynamic coup before WWII, so there’s some controversy as to whether the 356 is indeed Dr. Porsche’s first Porsche automobile. The Type 64 was so named because it was built with leftover components from the Type 64 VW. The 356/1, or Number 1 prototype also predates the 356. It looks similar to a 356, but has a frameless split-V windscreen and a mid-engine design.
At the KIT CAR Performance Day, we had the opportunity to put a Thunder Ranch (TR) 356 Speedster through its paces in four driving tests – the slalom, the skidpad, 0-60 mph acceleration, and 60-0 braking, Before we evaluated any of the automobiles at Performance Day, several editorial colleagues and myself took feature photographs. In case there was some sort of mishap during one of the tests, we wanted the photography to be accident-free and perfect.
Well, we had a great plan. Yet someone forgot to snap some photos of the hard-to-miss Match Signal Red ’56 Speedster replica that thunder Ranch sales a d marketing whiz Chuck Hirsch owns. How we missed shooting a resale red roadster is hard to fathom. Still, it gave KIT CAR the excuse to pay Thunder Ranch another visit to see what Tom McBurnie, TR’s affable founder and owner, is up to these days. We discovered that none other than Thunder Ranch is replicating the Number 1 prototype we mentioned in the opening paragraph. We saw t he first body out of the mold, but we promised not to take a photograph of the sleek mid-engined roadster until it’s complete. The Number 1 will only be available as a turnkey car from an exclusive distributor separate from Thunder Ranch. We’ll provide all the details as soon as Tom gives us the green light. Stay tuned.