70 years of Porsche: The wild life of number one

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The wild life of the very first Porsche

70 years of Porsche: The wild life of number one-Ferdinand (1875-1951)

License plate K45 286: The Porsche 356/1 on its return to Carinthia

Source: Porsche

Porsche’s first sports car was registered in June 1948. It borders on a miracle that the roadster still exists today. An exit with the number 1 at his birthplace Gmund in deep Carinthia.

W.He is inzig, the first Porsche: only 3.86 meters long, 1.67 meters wide, 1.25 meters high, weighs less than 600 kilos. The roadster has a mid-engine, the machine comes from the VW Beetle: 1.1 liter displacement, but still 35 HP strong; all later 356s were powered by an engine built into the stern.

The engine noise sounds familiar, a typical boxer rattle – wild is different. Walter Layer, a foreman from the Porsche Museum workshop, is at the wheel. We are allowed to ride on the route through the area around the country town of Gmund in Carinthia, on which Porsche carried out a final inspection drive on May 27, 1948. And from the first few meters you are surprised at how agile the little car is.

But why Gmund of all places? When the first bombs hit the premises of the Dr. Ing.h.c. F. Porsche GmbH in Stuttgart, the then Reich Minister for Armaments ordered the immediate move. First, Ferry Porsche, the son of Professor Ferdinand Porsche, wanted, Relocated the company headquarters to Zell am See, where the family owned an estate, the bulk goods.

But there was not enough space there. In Carinthia, on the other hand, on the site of the former W. Meinecke Holzgrobindustrie Berlin-Gmund, things looked different. Back then, in 1944, Gmund was truly at the end of the world, access was only possible from the south via Klagenfurt. On the other hand, there was a relative calm there before the chaos of war, there were no bombs and no marching armies, only fields and forests and meadows. Within a few weeks, around half of the Porsche employees moved from Stuttgart to the idyllic Austrian landscape in November 1944.

Porsche initially built tugs and winches

After the end of the war, people continue to work there, reflecting on old ideas that were still in the drawer. Tractors and other agricultural implements have always been a favorite topic of Professor Porsche – so that’s what you get involved with. The company builds a tug for Allgaier, rope winches (type 335), small hydropower plants (type 285, hydraulic motor) and other useful equipment.

70 years of Porsche: The wild life of number one-Switzerland

Uphill in the Porsche 356/1: Our author was allowed to take a seat in the passenger seat

Source: Deniz Calagan

Some of these products are sold through the Agricultural Cooperative Klagenfurt, while others are sold directly. By the end of 1946, the workforce could be increased to 222, and additional barracks were repaired and moved into.

In the summer of 1947, drawings were made with construction no. 356, this still under the name "VW two-seater sports car"; the first sketches must have been made beforehand. The construction is complex: tubular space frame, mid-engine, light metal body; the transmission, the rear axle, the front axle, the steering, the wheels and the brakes come from the Volkswagen.

The first test drives with the new chassis were made in March 1948, and the body was still being screwed in April. On June 8, 1948, the prototype No. 1 received an individual permit for Austria.

The internal type designation is "Sport 356/1", the vehicle gets the famous license plate "K45 286". The Sport 356/1 then traveled to Switzerland for the Grand Prix of Bern in July 1948 and was tested by various journalists. The first driving report was published in the “Automobil Revue” on July 7, 1948.

A week later, Herbert Kaes drives the first race on the Innsbruck city circuit with the Sport 356/1 and immediately wins a class. In September, Porsche obtained the export license. The car is cleared through customs in Switzerland and the body shape is entered as “Torpedo Sport”.

The buyer is an architect from Zurich

Technical acceptance will take place in Zurich in December. After minor deficiencies in the lighting had been corrected, the number 1 was the first Porsche car to receive official registration and license plates ZH 20640. The buyer is a certain Peter Kaiser, a Zurich-based architect from Germany, who designed the vehicle paid an exorbitant price of 7,500 francs for the time.

70 years of Porsche: The wild life of number one-Zell am See

The lighting of the Porsche 356 No. 1 had to be improved after it was exported to Switzerland

Source: Porsche

The number 1 has had a wild life. It borders on a miracle that the vehicle still exists today and is in the possession of the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart. According to Kaiser, the car belonged to Fraulein Rosemarie Muff, among others, who complained about the poor lighting system – probably also because she mostly went about her occupation at night.

During a trip over the Gotthard, an Opel crashed into the rear of a later owner, from which six nuns got out and crossed themselves, shocked. The insurance paid for the damage and the money was used to "modernize" the car.

This also explains why the vehicle, which Porsche returned to its possession in 1958, looks a little different from the first pictures from Gmund. And that’s also the reason why Porsche had a second number 1 built for the company’s 70th anniversary, a so-called show car, which is based on the original construction plans from Gmund. The Stuttgart-based company believes that their very first sports car could originally have been painted in a soft light blue – which is very controversial among connoisseurs of the brand’s early history.

Back then, the tires were incredibly narrow

But WELT had the pleasure of having the real, the real, the very first Porsche ever. Silver – originally it was most likely plain and simple: gray – the car gleamed on the main square in Gmund in front of the “Alte Post” hotel, where the Porsche employees once stopped and where Professor Porsche himself had his regular table.

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Our driver Walter Layer knows the number 1 like hardly anyone else, he knows about the peculiarities (“He doesn’t like it when he has to crawl too slowly behind another vehicle.”) And the technical difficulties (“The first and second gear are not synchronized. ”) – and so he drives the inestimably valuable individual item with a mild smile through the beautiful landscape near Gmund.

The 356/1 doesn’t cause any problems uphill either, the rear end slips in the serpentines alone (“The tires were so incredibly narrow back then”), but Layer has that under control too. Downhill, however, he leaves a respectful distance to the vehicle in front, the brakes are not quite as we are used to today.

70 years of Porsche: The wild life of number one-Alte Post

The car has been owned by Porsche again since 1958

Source: Porsche

Just taking a ride in number 1 is not only a great honor for the reporter, but also a real pleasure. In the days before the tour through Carinthia he was still extensively on the road with what is currently the coarsest device from the Zuffenhausen-based company, the 700 hp 911 GT2 RS, but the 35 hp trip is at least as much fun.

8 thoughts on “70 years of Porsche: The wild life of number one”

  1. My first Porsche was a 911S from 1966. The letter stated 165 HR 15 tires AND the top speed was 225 km / h. A conversion to 185/70 HR !! led to great handling properties of the vehicle. Unfortunately, there were light years between the technology and the body quality. The salty winters generated Porsche sales in Germany.

    Reply
  2. Everything the Porsches have developed .. designed .. produced .. sold in the 30 .. 40 .. 50 .. 60 .. years.
    A complete product type catalog
    would be desirable OR?

    Reply
  3. For people living today, it is almost unbelievable that you could race with 35 HP and then win a class, hats off, respect, respect.
    I could have bought a car like this for 3,000 marks in 1981 when I was 17 and unfortunately had too little money. That still annoys me a bit today

    Reply
  4. "Uphill in the Porsche" – What a wonderful photo!!
    The design and the aesthetics – this Porsche literally calls out to you "get in and drive me!"

    Reply

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