The Porsche That Birthed the Legend: The Type 64 Could Fetch $20m At RM Sotheby’s Monterey Sale
Occasionally it is difficult to overstate the significance of something. This car is reckoned to be the oldest-surviving Porsche anywhere; marking where it all started for the lauded sports car manufacturer. Indeed, it predated Porsche’s first production car, the 356, by almost a decade. Only three were made and only one survived World War Two. That sole surviving 1939 Porsche Type 64 is heading to auction, at RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale on August 15 to 17. It’s thought it could fetch $20m.
In the late 1930s, Ferdinand Porsche was required to focus on designing a car for the masses, the KdF-Wagen—better known as the Volkswagen Beetle. Yet he retained a vision to create a lighter and faster sports car equivalent. Its tangible story started with the 1500km Berlin-Rome race, scheduled for September 1939 and intended to celebrate Germany’s autobahns and the Beetle. For the race, government-owned Volkswagen commissioned three special long-distance racing versions of the KdF-Wagen. This became the Type 64, designed by the same engineers who would go on to create the 356.
The Type 64 shared the same drivetrain and suspension as the Beetle though its lightweight chassis and riveted alloy body used technology as seen on WWII aircraft. The wheels were fully covered in removable alloy panels while the original air-cooled flat-four engine churned out 32bhp. However, war was officially declared just weeks before the race’s date; just as the first Type 64 was finished. The government’s interest turned to military vehicles—the race, obviously, was canned—and the sole Type 64 became the property of the German labor front. Ferdinand’s son Ferry nevertheless pressed ahead with the other two Type 64s. The second car was thought to have been found then used by American troops for joyriding then, after its engine seized, scrapped. The third was built on the skeleton of the first car, which had been crashed by Volkswagen’s managing director, and was a personal family car of Ferry and Ferdinand Porsche. This car number three is going under the hammer at Monterey.
Porsche commissioned restoration work on the car in 1947, completed by a young Pinin Farina, then when it demonstrated the 356 in Innsbruck it was alongside the Type 64. Austrian driver Otto Mathé completed the Type 64’s demo laps and loved it so much that he bought it the following year. He then enjoyed a successful racing career with it during the 1950s—the very first to do so in a Porsche product—and kept it for 46 years until his 1995 death. In 1997, with its third owner Dr Thomas Gruber, author of the renowned Carrera RS book and one of the most respected Porsche specialists, the car appeared at vintage racing events such as Goodwood and the Austrian Ennstal Classic.
“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. With this car, the new owner will not only be invited to the first row of every Porsche event worldwide—they will be the first row!”
Images courtesy of RM Sotheby’s