The iconic ‘Carrera’ name made its debut on a Porsche in November 1955, gracing a 356A powered by a slightly tamer iteration of the 1.5-liter, twin-overhead-camshaft, roller-bearing engine found in the racing 550 Spyder. This nomenclature was chosen to capitalize on Porsche’s triumphs in the Carrera PanAmericana races of 1952 and ’54.
The four-cam Carrera GS engine, boasting a dry-sump system akin to its racing counterpart, generated 100bhp. While this was ten horsepower less than the competition-focused GT variant, it outperformed its pushrod counterparts comfortably. The 356 Carrera achieved speeds exceeding 120mph (193km/h), establishing itself as the fastest 1.5-liter production car of its era and a formidable competitor on the racetrack.
Notable advancements for the Carrera included a displacement increase to 1.6 liters in 1958, accompanied by the adoption of a plain-bearing, forged crankshaft. The transition to a plain-bearing engine was driven by cost considerations, as it proved to be significantly more economical to produce than the original roller-bearing version. Nonetheless, the roller-bearing engine persisted in limited production, revered for its superiority in competitive racing applications.