Looking at the thousands of images of 356s on the 'net I've noticed a few things about the front of the car.  I realise that some cars are real 356s and probably the majority are replicas.

However the vertical position of the sidelight/horn grille seems to vary from just underneath the headlamp mounting screws, to much further down, especially on cars without bumpers.

Then we have a number of cars without horn grilles at all.  Most claim to be pre-A but some don't.  If we're talking about Speedsters specifically, the launch publicity shows horn grilles.

Does anyone know the proper history, and whether production cars had different positions, or it is just replica builders getting it a bit wrong on occasion.

Yes, I do realise I should get out more...  but I'm in shielded lockdown for health reasons, and have far too much time to think...

Audi TT TDI 2009

Previously: 986 Boxster S, 911 (964) C4,  a few ordinary cars...

Original Post

Jem:  No, you're not crazy, neither are you OCD (at least not as much as me!)

The change in position of the horn grill/directional light changed between the T-0 model (what we call "Pre-A" ) and the T-1 model (what we call the 356 A).

The T-0 horn grill is positioned 1-1/2" below the headlight rim bolt (at the bottom of the trim rim) while the T-1 is lower by 1/2" to 2" down - Pretty good that you noticed it. The T-0 also has a shorter directional lens while the T-1 is a bit taller (and more visible from the side to meet TUV requirements in Germany back then).

I made up a lengthy T-0/T-1 comparison that Theron was kind enough to post on here and you can find it at this link:

https://www.speedsterowners.com/pages/356-a-changes

I also have it as a Excel file so let me know if you can't see the link above and I can send the Excel stuff to you via email.  The comparison was done with no replicas involved and compared an original 1955 T-0 to an original 1958 T-1, both Speedsters.  There were fewer differences in the T-1s because the T-0 cars were all hand built to wooden bucks and no two are completely alike while the T-1 cars were pressed metal with dies and all were much more standard in all ways.

I don't know about the cars without horn grills in the front.  Might be Gmund (early, pre-T-0 cars or outlaws), but I would have to go and look.  

So while you're looking for the file, here is page one of four, with the directional/horn grill info:

<colgroup><col width="477" /><col width="472" /></colgroup>
Speedster comparison – 1955 to 1958 model yearsGordon Nichols - Five Cent Racing
  
There were four types of 356 speedsters: 
  
T-0 is called “Pre-A” 
- Only 200 built 
-  Side body line was straighter than later cars 
-  No Front Sway Bar 
-  Lots of VW parts included 
  
T-1 Built from Pre-A to later 1956 
  
T-2 Built from later 1956 to 1960 
  
356B Built from 1960 to 1965 
  
Comparisons - T-1 (356)Comparisons - T2 (356A)
BODY AREABODY AREA
HeadlightsHeadlights
Headlight lens similar to VW - Driving light "spot" in center, Vertical flutes in lensInset sealed beam - may not have outer lens if grills installed - flutes only at top of lens
  
Tail LightsTail Lights
Be Hives until late 1956Tear Drops from 3/4's 1956 through the "B" series until late 1965
  
Rocker PanelsRocker Panels
Rockers are lower below the rocker trim and wrap under the bodyRockers are shallower and do not wrap under the body
  
WheelsWheels
16" by 3-1/2" wheels - Wheel well arch is lower15" by 4-1/2" wheels - Wheel well arch raised more than 1"
  
Body WeldsBody Welds
May be different side-to-side because different people welded on each side.May be different side-to-side because different people welded on each side
Both cars have peen-hammer dings along the hood hinge mating surface as they were  
"aligned" by stressing the metal just inside the hinge to make them bend to fit the body mounts. 
  
Jack SpursJack Spurs
Very much like VW, but angled upward toward body and square (like VW)Very much like VW, but angled upward toward body - slightly horizontal rectangle receptacle
  
Bumper GuardsBumper Guards
Forged Bumper GuardCast Bumper Guard
  
Hood HandleHood Handle
May be right (passenger side) justified by 1/4 inch - that's normal for some carscentered on hood
Not square to noseSquare to nose
  
Door HandlesDoor Handles
Inner is centered.  Outer is squared off around the button end - shorter buttonInner is forward and elevated, outer is rounded around the button end - Longer button
  
Outside mirrorsOutside mirrors
Aero mirror was standard - others were aftermarketEverything from British to Talbot - anything would be fitted to customer request/order
  
Windshield lower frameWindshield lower frame
Almost touches the rear of the windshield wiper drive stalk bezelAlmost touches the rear of the windshield wiper drive stalk bezel
  
Windshield WashersWindshield Washers
NoneWashers mounted on front cowl
  
Windshield WiperWindshield Wiper
VWModified Arm and Blade
  
Hood Weather StripHood Weatherstrip
Lipped "D" fastened to the cover lip with slotted screwsLipped "D" fastened to the cover lip with slotted screws
Drip edge just inside of weatherstrip, with a drain hole at the bottom into spare tire well Drip edge just inside of weatherstrip, with a drain hole at the bottom into spare tire well
  
Front directional Lights 
ShorterTaller
1-1/2" down from headlight2"+ down from headlight

One other thought just occurred to me - If you're looking at some of the UK replica 356s, like those from Chesil and one other builder that I can't recall, they did some funky things to the nose of the car to conform to MOT regulations so the headlights were moved higher and other stuff was moved around.  Most of the folks on here are American and just know our replicas, which seem to be closer to the originals than, say, a Chesil.  Just food for thought.

A couple of guys down in Africa had those cars with the moved headlights @Manny and @flatfourfan and ended up going to a lot of work to move the headlights back to where they belong.

Ah, so it's not just me...  Most 'real' cars I've seen, as I'm in the UK are Chesils, so my 'brain' sees these as normal, though I do have two friends with 'real' 356 Coupes, and I think both are B, but I'd have to check.  The car I'm buying is an Apal, which I think is an Intermeccanica built 'under license' so is probably closest to a IM, but it's been built 'outlaw' style, and has beehive rear lights (which I like) and no horn grilles and quite low mounted sidelights, and no bumpers (also like!).  I'm not going to try to recreate a specific car / year, I just want to understand the history better.  I think it's time to invest in some books, so thanks for the heads up on those.

@Gordon Nichols - I can't see the link so the excel file would be useful to feed my OCD.  I'll see if I can DM you, though you can work out my email address from my website www.briksdal.co.uk

With Porsche cars hand made back in the '50's, standardization was near non-existent.  They used things like tail light from one year to another until they ran out.  Things like rear view mirrors were dealer installed where ever dealer or owner wanted them.  With a replica - no one will ever try to compare it to the real thing.  No rust bubbles and the VW pan with tall tunnel and tunnel mounted hand brakes are visible from 20 feet.  A replica is made to be driven and put a smile on the drivers face (unless its raining).

http://www.speedsters.com/srs-APAL.htm

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