Porsche Type 64: Beetle/356 predecessor goes under the hammer

Published: 14 May 2019

► Type 64 has never been raced
► Only one of three surviving chassis
► It's had four owners in total

You're looking at the Porsche Type 64, one of the most important Porsches ever made. Designed for a road race that never happened, it's a mixture of Volkswagen Beetle and Porsche 356 - and the latter certainly wouldn't have happened without it.

Another stillborn racer

Porsche's history is littered with racers than never made it to the track, and the Type 64 continues the trend. Based around the KdF-Wagen - the predecessor to the VW Beetle - the Type 64 was a streamlined racer designed to take part in a race in September 1939.

Designed by Ferry Porsche to use a lightweight aluminum body and covered wheels, the Type 64 used the same drivetrain and suspension as the Type 1. But it also used aircraft-gade tech in the chassis and bodywork. What's more, the original air-cooled flat-four was tuned up to 32bhp.

What about the race?

The 1500km race was supposed to be a test of endurance and speed and was going to take place between Berlin and Rome. Importantly, it'd also use large stretches of the newly-constructed Autobahn, so it formed something of a nationalist PR campaign, too.

Don't mention the war!

Of course, the onset of the Second World War meant the race never went ahead, but on the outbreak of war, one car was already produced. Somehow, a further two were made after that and, for a while, all three served as test beds to the forthcoming 356.

Type 64 interior

After the war, the sole-surviving chassis was registered officially as a Porsche in 1946, and Ferry Porsche himself added branding of the company on the nose.

After being restored by *the* Pinin Farina in 1947, it ended up being raced by Austrian privateer driver Otto Mathé in the 1950s. It went to its fourth owner in 1997, who is now putting it up for sale. The Type 64 is going under the hammer with some original spare parts and historic documentation, too.

Proto-356

It's no coincidence that the Type 64 looks like a cross between a Beetle and a 356. The car was actually manufactured by engineers who ended up building the 356 Roadster, and it also served as a testbed for the iconic open-topped Porsche.

'Without the Type 64, there would be no Porsche 356, no 550, no 911," said RM Sotheby's car specialist, Marcus Görig. 'This is Porsche's origin story, the car that birthed the company's legend, and it offers collectors what is likely an unrepeatable opportunity to sit in the seat of Ferdinand and Ferry Porsche.'

See more about the car here

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast

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