What Engine Would You Put in This Barn Find Porsche 356?

Colin
By Colin Wood
Mar 18, 2021 | Porsche, 356, barn find

This largely original 1953 Porsche 356 is set to go across the auction block later this month, though it’s missing one crucial component: an engine.

Since many of us enjoy armchair project car building, what engine would you put in this 356? Would you go original with a period-correct Type 369, or maybe go all out with a turbocharged Subaru EJ engine?

What about the rest of the Porsche? Would you go full-on restoration, or how about turning it into an outlaw?

Whatever your plan is, we’d love to hear it in the comments, and read more about this 1953 Porsche 356 barn find over on Classic Motorsports.

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Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
3/17/21 1:16 p.m.

I have a hard time improving on Seth's idea (but the site says it is only available in their outlaw cars).

I'd probably clean it up and put the hottest aircooled Vdub I could find, and just enjoy it. That or a 914 engine.

I'd sell it for some insane amount of money and buy a different car. 

Unless I had too much money and wanted to troll the world. Then it would get a Kubota diesel. 

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/17/21 1:25 p.m.
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) (Forum Supporter) said:

I have a hard time improving on Seth's idea (but the site says it is only available in their outlaw cars).

I'd probably clean it up and put the hottest aircooled Vdub I could find, and just enjoy it. That or a 914 engine.

Kustom Craft Works here in GJ did just that. Built a SoCal bug style 356. 

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
3/17/21 1:39 p.m.

Why not an electric powerplant?

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
3/17/21 1:40 p.m.
Colin Wood said:

Why not an electric powerplant?

Because reproductions of this car exist that would be more appropriate for that. 

FMB42
FMB42 Reader
3/17/21 1:41 p.m.

"Would you go original with a period-correct Type 369"...? Yes, I'd go original on that one. I wouldn't put any Suba engine in anything.

Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter)
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/17/21 1:42 p.m.

I came here to mention the same Emory engine as Seth already has.  With a current bid of $25K and a projected sale price of, you better be sitting down for this, $50-60K I think any buyer would want an engine that's at least heavily related to something from Porsche.  If someone wants an outlaw 356 (cope, convertible or speedster) these days with a non VW/Porsche engine I'd start with a replica.  Heck you can buy a turn key 356 replica with VW engine from JPS for just over $40k and can add a Scoobie engine from them for less than the projected sale price of this lawn ornament.   

preach (fs)
preach (fs) HalfDork
3/17/21 2:30 p.m.

I'd find a super 90 to put in it and enjoy the berkeley out of it.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
3/17/21 3:13 p.m.
Toyman01 (Moderately Supportive Dude) said:

I'd sell it for some insane amount of money and buy a different car. 

Unless I had too much money and wanted to troll the world. Then it would get a Kubota diesel.

This.  I do not worship in the Cult of the Bathtub Porsche.  I would absolutely take advantage of... I mean, provide a path to nirvana for someone who does.  For a nominal service charge, of course.

 

Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter)
Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) Dork
3/17/21 3:17 p.m.

I thought the answer on engine swaps was always LS3. 

Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter)
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/17/21 3:40 p.m.
Toyman01 (Moderately Supportive Dude) said:

Unless I had too much money and wanted to troll the world. Then it would get a Kubota diesel. 

 

IT may not be a Kubota, but it is 1.6 TD from a VW Quantom.

I've lost touch with the rally community in SE Mi over the last few years, but there was a dentist who's wife co-drove an ex Prodrive Group N Scoobie that was building a stage rally 356, not an oil burner, but some form of AC VW, possibly a Type IV I forget.  I know it was progressing slowly from around the turn of the century through around 2010.  Last I heard either he or his wife passed, but I forget which.  Maybe one of the other Michigan peeps on here knows.

wvumtnbkr
wvumtnbkr PowerDork
3/17/21 3:43 p.m.

Rotary.

GM > MG
GM > MG New Reader
3/17/21 4:23 p.m.

Since the question was what motor would you put in this car, I would go for one of the 1.5ish four cams, original if it could be found or one of the New / Old motors like the Emory or the Capricorn.

But since I'm not in the Tax Bracket to consider that project, I would sell it and get a 2012 Cayman R...

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/17/21 4:53 p.m.

Here's that local one. I think it was built with a 60 hp VW motor or something like that. The build thread seems to have vamoosed, although I think it did show up in Hot Rod.

kb58
kb58 SuperDork
3/17/21 4:57 p.m.

Depends what's most important. Given that it's going to go for $50K+, I'd spend that on something else.

"If" forced to answer the question, I'd put in a period correct engine, sell it, and go do something else.

chandler
chandler UltimaDork
3/17/21 4:59 p.m.

Gotta have a Jaguar V12.

wvumtnbkr
wvumtnbkr PowerDork
3/17/21 5:33 p.m.
chandler said:

Gotta have a Jaguar V12.

BBC are better in every way....

Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter)
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/17/21 5:40 p.m.
wvumtnbkr said:
chandler said:

Gotta have a Jaguar V12.

BBC are better in every way....

Except in Coolness and the ability to build 500hp for pocket lint, just ask Frenchyd!

nocones
nocones GRM+ Memberand UberDork
3/17/21 5:52 p.m.

I can't decide between 2 or 3 paths. 

1: Front Engine Big Cadillac engine, Full Gasser conversion.

2: Rear Engined, Long Travel Suspension, Subaru H6 off road buggy

3: Full stance works wet dream car build, V6/V8 2 stroke outboard motor.

 

I mean since we are going ridiculous.  

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia SuperDork
3/17/21 6:08 p.m.

are you going to show off the engine or just go fast ?

Go fast is any modern  4 cyl twin cam turbo motor like the Ford Ecoboost ., 200 HP 

Show off is a VW based 2.2 liter with 911 Porsche fan and Weber 48 IDAs

Lee
Lee UberDork
3/17/21 6:14 p.m.

Yamaha Vmax

03Panther
03Panther SuperDork
3/18/21 1:20 a.m.

In reply to Lee :

I beleive you just won the internet today!

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/18/21 5:29 a.m.
Duke said:
Toyman01 (Moderately Supportive Dude) said:

I'd sell it for some insane amount of money and buy a different car. 

Unless I had too much money and wanted to troll the world. Then it would get a Kubota diesel.

This.  I do not worship in the Cult of the Bathtub Porsche.  I would absolutely take advantage of... I mean, provide a path to nirvana for someone who does.  For a nominal service charge, of course.

 

Same. Although if I had to keep it, I'd install one of those Motus V4s. It takes design cues from the LS motor but is a clean sheet design, makes 180hp/123lb-ft from 1650cc.

Rigante
Rigante New Reader
3/18/21 5:47 a.m.

original 356s are worth so much now, that you'd  need to go original. Leave the watercooling and big power to the GRP shells,

unless you are Grant, who sticks a V8 in the middle


 

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
3/18/21 7:08 a.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

This Emory Motorsports engine.

There seems to be a catch to that.

The Emory-Rothsport  Outlaw-4 engine is only available as standard equipment in every Emory Outlaw, Special or RS we build.

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/18/21 7:13 a.m.

Has anyone here driven one of these?  I did years ago and it was a case of being very disappointed. 

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
3/18/21 8:00 a.m.

Echoing previous answers; sell it, build a replica.  356 convertible (not a Speedster, I'd want some headroom and a real top) with maybe aircooled VW-based flat-four and try to find a 911 gearbox for it.  Think it could be done for $50k without having to skip too many niceties?  

Rigante
Rigante New Reader
3/18/21 8:11 a.m.

In reply to NOHOME :

Pretty sure it's a polo motor, Not sure if Rod has exclusive rights, but it's £££££ anyway

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/18/21 9:46 a.m.
dean1484 said:

Has anyone here driven one of these?  I did years ago and it was a case of being very disappointed. 

Never meet your heroes, eh? I know after all the raving I heard on here about how good the 944 is, the time I drove one at an autocross I came away extremely underwhelmed.

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia SuperDork
3/18/21 9:49 a.m.
Rigante said:

In reply to NOHOME :

Pretty sure it's a polo motor, Not sure if Rod has exclusive rights, but it's £££££ anyway

They are 2 similar motors , but not the same , 

Chuck Beck built the first one for his 550 Spyder , then Dean Polopolus  built his version and Emory built his version , all the same basic idea , use the  Porsche Factory pistons / cylinders , heads , etc in a 4 cyl version  of a 911 motor.  

NermalSnert (Forum Supporter)
NermalSnert (Forum Supporter) Reader
3/18/21 10:03 a.m.

I think I would put an old bug engine in it until I could find an original.

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
3/18/21 10:27 a.m.
dean1484 said:

Has anyone here driven one of these?  I did years ago and it was a case of being very disappointed. 

I find that classic cars are a lot like supermodels in that they are best admired as artwork but not used for anything functional. Anything else will lead to disapointment and financial ruin.

alfadriver (Forum Supporter)
alfadriver (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/18/21 10:39 a.m.
NermalSnert (Forum Supporter) said:

I think I would put an old bug engine in it until I could find an original.

I would do that just to get it back on the road ASAP.

Back in 1994, I bought a Giuletta Spider to restore, and I sold it in 2016 (I think) having not restored it.  Better to have it on the road quickly than make up some elaborate powertrain swap.

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
3/18/21 11:14 a.m.

I too would slap a VW motor in it to get it running while I searched for a correct engine.

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/18/21 11:20 a.m.

It all comes down to why you're buying the car. If it's for resale (now or later), you have to keep it correct. At that point, you're not really the car's owner, you're just the caretaker for a future owner.

If it's because you want a 356, put whatever you want in it. This was the original concept of the outlaws, I think, but then they turned themselves into a specific style :)

Eccentric_Gear_Head
Eccentric_Gear_Head New Reader
3/18/21 11:37 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) (Forum Supporter) said:

I have a hard time improving on Seth's idea (but the site says it is only available in their outlaw cars).

I'd probably clean it up and put the hottest aircooled Vdub I could find, and just enjoy it. That or a 914 engine.

Kustom Craft Works here in GJ did just that. Built a SoCal bug style 356. 

Kustom Coach Werks.

John Jones. One hell of a hard worker and car builder. He runs a neat business model where he builds every project in real time on his internet forum so the customer can see it all happen with nearly daily updates.

https://kustomcoachwerks.com/

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/18/21 11:45 a.m.

Thanks, I just know them as KCW :) Before working from home, I drove past the shop every day on the way to/from work. For some reason, I've never stopped in but I'm always planning to.  You should see the stuff they have piled up in the lot for future projects.

We used to do regular build diaries on our big customer builds when we were doing those. Customers love it, but it's high effort.

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
3/18/21 12:41 p.m.

Since I don't have a specific want for a Porsche 356, the "flip it and sell it with a 356 engine or a make-do Bug motor" has definite appeal.

If I were to build it, I'd still go with a Porsche motor... only I'd pull it out of a Cayenne. devil Leave the outside exactly as is except for replacing the turn signals, door handles, and what it needs to be functional. Make it a Porsche barn find rat rod. Or use a Honda J series V6 with twin turbos, because blasphemy should never be done halfway.

Stefan (Forum Supporter)
Stefan (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/18/21 1:09 p.m.
NickD said:
dean1484 said:

Has anyone here driven one of these?  I did years ago and it was a case of being very disappointed. 

Never meet your heroes, eh? I know after all the raving I heard on here about how good the 944 is, the time I drove one at an autocross I came away extremely underwhelmed.

They suck at an Autocross, get them on track and you'll find they are in their element.  They are underpowered and the engine is a bit, boring, but the chassis nicely balanced and very chuckable.  They regularly compete pretty evenly with the Spec Miata when they are built to Spec944.

Ultimately, they are a product of the eighties and that was just a dark time in the automotive world.

j_tso
j_tso GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/18/21 1:30 p.m.
dean1484 said:

Has anyone here driven one of these?  I did years ago and it was a case of being very disappointed. 

Apparently they are no match to a Honda Odyssey.

preach (fs)
preach (fs) HalfDork
3/18/21 3:35 p.m.

Old Porsches were amazing at the time they were new. Now, however, they get compared to a much more modern set of cars that skew the bias of what a good 19xx car should drive like. It is important to remember that when you evaluate the cars abilities.

I once ran into a Testarossa while in my Cayman. I would have, just barely, ran right through him with my 30 year newer sports car. Instead I relished the aural candy of a flat 12 Ferrari and a flat 6 Porsche screaming in joy together. It was amazing to hear, must have been quite the sight too.

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
3/18/21 5:03 p.m.

Technology can't be beat. I mentioned in a thread somewhere about my Datsun being 15-20 seconds a lap faster than a twenties GP Alfa so I'm not surprised a Honda mini van is faster than a 50 year old sports car.

A 356 drives similar to my Datsun 1200; old cars drift from apex to apex, that is the joy of driving them. New cars are soos heavy.

If I drive something that is sticks like glue, my first choice is a single seat race car,  I have my Formula 500.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/18/21 5:09 p.m.

V10 TDI.  Keep it in the family.

2008 Volkswagen Touareg v10 TDI - Featured Diesel SUV - Diesel Power  Magazine

rustomatic
rustomatic Reader
3/18/21 5:09 p.m.

Busa, with stock muffler, because lightweight, then widebody, because 315s, then realize that Busa will not like 315s that much, so, yeah, LS, but no.  Then, realize Factory Five Cobra for less money and still tiny wheelbase, but LS yes and 315s yes. 

Can one prance slowly?  That is the best version of what an old Porsche does.  No gracias.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
3/18/21 5:10 p.m.

Let's stop dicking around.  Turbonique. 

RichardSIA
RichardSIA HalfDork
3/19/21 1:46 a.m.

The Porsche 356 engine I was looking at just yesterday. At only about $1,200 and rebuild it's not even expensive, probably cheaper than a hopped up VW.

03Panther
03Panther SuperDork
3/19/21 2:53 a.m.

In reply to Appleseed :

Ohhh! I REALLY want one of those!. I would not waste it on a 356, though.surprise

I remember reading in a tech question back in the early 80's (magazine, no interwebs to flame the guy) if a guy could bolt the engine out of his stock super bug, into his 356. The answer way yes, it will fit, but use the whole drivetrain, as the 356 would not handle the extra power! No clue if thats correct, but it was the legit reply.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/19/21 5:21 a.m.
Appleseed said:

Let's stop dicking around.  Turbonique. 

There was a Beetle equipped with one. Like pretty much everything with a Turbonique Drag Axle, it crashed.

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) UberDork
3/19/21 9:53 a.m.

Whenever I see a 356 a part of me wants to cry. 15 years ago an employee of mine disassembled one, restored or replaced almost everything....and lost interest before he put it all back together again. He offered it all to me for $6K angry.

I'd make it more fun via bolt-ons without hacking the thing up. Something like a breathed-on 2.0 from a 914 and some suspension upgrades. Keep as much patina as possible so it has a rat vibe, but only on the surface.  

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