Tuesday, May 14 11:26am
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

World’s “most significant” Porsche Type 64 goes to auction

Arguably one of the world’s rarest cars made by Porsche is set to go up for auction.


This 1939 Porsche Type 64 will be sold next month by RM Sotheby’s and will no doubt fetch several million dollars.


The Type 64 derives from the Volkswagen Beetle, or KdF-Wagen, around the time of World War II. Professor Ferdinand Porsche set about creating a lighter and much faster version of the Beetle to showcase their technology and fulfil a dream to create a sports car.




The car was purpose-built for the 1,500km Berlin-Rome, a race that ultimately never took place. Slated for September of 1939, the race was to use the renowned Bundesautobahn and Porsche were planning to use the race to showcase their Type 64 and celebrate the launch of the KdF-Wagen.


Three racing versions of the KdF-Wagen were commissioned and built at Reutter Works.


The Type 64 shared the same drivetrain and suspension as the Type 1 Volkswagen, but that was it. The chassis and body used aircraft technology of the era and the air-cooled flat-four engine was tuned to make 32bhp.


However, it never got to race in the 1,500km event as war broke out. Focus shifted to military vehicle production and the first Type 64 became property of the German labor front.




Porsche pushed on though and another two cars were built. The cars were used as test beds for future projects, ultimately leading to the Porsche 356. The second car was finished in December of 1939 and the third, using the chassis of the first car, which had been damaged following an accident with the Managing Director of Volkswagen at the wheel, was finished by June 1940.


The third car was used by Ferry and Ferdinand Porsche as a family car and was kept in the family estate alonside the second car when the company had to move to Gmünd, Austria.


Porsche debuted the Type 356 alongside the Type 64 in 1947. It was later bought by Austrian driver Otto Mathé. He enjoyed success with the car and kept it until he died in 1995, 46 years later.




The Type 64 was then bought by Dr. Thomas Gruber of Vienna, appearing sporadically at historic racing events like Goodwood.


Now the car is up for aution and is accompanied by many original spare parts, as well as extensive period images and historic documentation.


The car is described as “perhaps the most significant surviving piece of Porsche engineering and design history” by RM Sotheby’s.