Milestones in Porsche History – Volume 2
Before the start of World War II, Porsche decided that it had become necessary to develop notoriety for his fledgling brand through international sports car racing.
What is widely known as the first Porsche was originally designed as a top speed record car. The Type-64 was heavily based upon the KdF-Wagen. With a reinforced chassis, aerodynamically reworked coachbuild, and a modified engine capable of nearly 50 horsepower, the Type-64 was a pure racing car from the start.
Three racing prototypes were hand formed from aluminum by Reutter for entry in the 1939 Berlin to Rome cross country race. The body design was lifted primarily from the abortive Type-114 V-10 engined sports cars. Extensive wind tunnel testing was done on the body, and the cars were ready to win.
Due to the war, the race was unfortunately cancelled, and the race cars ended up in storage. One was destroyed early in the war, and yet another ended up as the joyride toy for a group of American soldiers when they found it in storage and chopped the top off. After a few weeks of fun, the prototype engine gave up the ghost, and the car was sent on its way to the scrap yard. The third prototype was used by the Porsche family, and currently resides at the Porsche museum in Germany. It’s last outing was at the 1982 Monterey Historics in California.
The first car to actually wear the Porsche badge was the post-war Porsche 356/1 prototype. This two seater roadster is powered by a 40 horsepower mid mounted 1,131cc aircooled flat four cylinder engine. The body was an original design by Porsche employee Erwin Komenda, heavily based on the Type-64. Though the body was original to the car, the suspension and engine were derived from the Volkswagen. This car would be the basis for the production 356, with one minor difference. The engine would be placed on the back of the transaxle for what would lead to a Porsche tradition of rear engined automobiles.
Find More Porsche Articles