This VW 39 Prototype Is Actually A Porsche And Shares The Same Engine As The Controversial Type 64
The Volkswagen 39 may look to all intents and purposes just like an ordinary VW Beetle but it is, in fact, a pre-series Porsche prototype designed by Ferdinand Porsche himself. Only 14 of these VW 39 models were built and just one exists today. That model, chassis #1-00003 now resides in a museum in Hamburg, how it got there is a fascinating story and thankfully this important part of both Porsche and Germany’s automotive history lives to tell its tale.
Completed in 1939, this particular prototype was fitted with a Type 64 engine—just like the one fitted to the Porsche 64 Berlin-Rome car—which gave it an impressive top speed of over 90 mph. Aside from the more powerful engine, the VW 39 prototypes were constructed using advanced machine tooling processes, and components like the wings and arched hood were manufactured in a body press. This production method would eventually be put into widespread use.
Chassis # 1-00003 spent its early years shuttling Ferdinand Porsche and his son between the production location in Zuffenhausen, the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg—which was still under construction—and the capital Berlin. It eventually ended up in Berlin at the headquarters of the German Labour Front, Not much is known of its time there but it was sold to a collector in Hamburg in 1948 in a rather poor state.
He slowly restored the car over many years and changed its color to gray. It was in this state that Thomas König and Oliver Schmidt, the founders of the Hamburg Prototype Museum, purchased the VW 39 prototype approximately five years ago.
Following a ground-up restoration by an early VW specialist, which involved the manufacture of a number of components by hand, it is now finished in its original Nitro Black paintwork and as pristine as the day it left the factory all those years ago. The last surviving member of its small production run, chassis # 1-00003 is a rather special car and further proof of the humble Beetle’s impressive legacy.
Images courtesy of Porsche