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The first Porsche sports car, and the race that never was

The first Porsche sports car, and the race that never was

Although you won't find the famous crest anywhere on the coachwork, this tiny streamlined coupé can lay claim to being the first Porsche sports car. Designed to compete in the 1939 Berlin to Rome race, Porsche's team built a trio of high-speed sports cars using modified Beetle running gear. The 985cc engine had a raised compression ratio, larger valves and twin carburetters and was said to propel the car up to 108mph at 4000rpm, helped by the slippery Reutter coachwork which included a full undertray and fully enclosed wheels.

The T64s, as the cars were known in Porsche's works, never had a chance to compete as the scheduled race in September, 1939, was cancelled as Germany entered a state of war. One of the cars was crashed and destroyed by a Volkswagen board member, a second was driven into the ground by American GIs after hostilities had ceased. Only one car survived untouched, owned and driven by the one-armed Austrian rally ace Otto Mathé, who converted it to right-hand drive to allow him to change gear...

After Mathé's death in 1995 a number of rare parts came to light among his collection of VW and Porsche competition cars. The eagle-eyed owners of Hamburg's Prototyp Automuseum realised the very early VW chassis and engine were, in fact, salvage from one of the wrecked T64s. The black car in these photos is the product of their painstaking 10-year effort to recreate the missing car using these original parts. Delwyn Mallett, a lifelong Porsche aficionado, was there when the car was unveiled, and tells the full fascinating history – and what it is like to drive – in the latest issue of The Automobile, which is out now.

(Photographs by Delwyn Mallett)

Tuesday, 24 November 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Very Large Daimler Chassis Discovered

Very Large Daimler Chassis Discovered

Robert recently rescued this chassis from under a farm trailer and hopes someone can tell him more. He writes: "Clearly it is a large Daimler with their own distinctive wire wheels. These have splined hubs and carry 33 x 5 tyres and have the remains of Ace or similar aluminium wheel discs. The dumb-irons have been cut and brought together and the back axle (which appears to be complete and undamaged) is now bolted direct to the chassis. There is a small plate with 'Daimler List No. 20124 Please quote List No. when ordering replacements'. I would very much like to know the date and model before deciding what to do with it."

Editor: well Robert, congratulations with your find! If all fails you can always restore the chassis and turn it into the poshiest farm trailer in the world...

Monday, 23 November 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

A bit of hot rod history and a radiator cat mystery

1927 Ford Hot Rod

Robb Stewart sends this photo and adds: "I thought that you might be interested in this little piece of prewar Southern California hot rod culture. We think of hot rods being created for the first time in the late 1940s by the enthusiasm and talents of young men returning from war in Europe, Asia and Africa, but the seeds were planted before they left. This 1927 Ford was my father-in-law’s first car in 1937, when he was 16 years old. His name is Dick Meyer and he is 94 years old now. Five years after this photo was taken, he joined the army and went to Africa, eventually being in charge of top secret communications between the command there and in Europe. Sitting on the car is his sister Margaret and brother-in-law Jim Lamparter. We attended Jim’s 100th birthday party this year.

Notice the severely dropped front axle and shortened spring that lowers the car as much as that modification could (editor: also note the flipped tires to keep the white walls out of sight for a more sporty look). I asked Dick if he remembered how the rear might have been lowered, but he couldn’t remember the details. The top half of the windshield has been cut off and all four fenders were removed. The hood sides are missing and the top is held on by leather straps. I asked Dick if the engine had been hopped up, but he thought that it was a stock unit. This car was not a big investment, but rather getting the most fun out of what was available during the Great Depression. I also asked about the radiator mascot and figure on the front of the radiator. Unfortunately, his memories are a bit sketchy, but when I suggested that the figure on the radiator looked like the Felix Chevrolet (a Los Angeles Chevrolet dealer, still in business) Felix the Cat, with the emblem cut off, he chuckled and said: “I was strictly a Ford man”. Dick’s next car was a Ford Model A that was more practical, but not as much fun."

Sunday, 22 November 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

What is it? Quiz #408

What is it? Quiz #408

We do not often see expensively nickel-plated rear axles because, of course, this English-made chassis was prepared for the Motor Show at Olympia to attract customers. We'll tell you it was 1919, the first year of production, but you have to tell us which make. That first year saw almost no production, the early cars having faults which earned  them a poor reputation, with 'weak rear axles,poor brakes and unsatisfactory steering'. Nevertheless, a sports model was bought by a famous pioneer aviator who once attempted (unsuccessfully) to fly the Atlantic. The more details you can give us about this car, its engine lubrication, starting arrangements and the company's destiny, the more likely you are to WIN.

We now ask you to please log in here before posting your answers to the quiz (the amount of spam comments have become intolerable).

Answers in the comment box please. Post that before Monday November 23rd and you may become the winner of this week's pre-war Quiz and will get the infamous PreWarCar T-shirt. Be careful though, check the Rules under 'Read More' first. Results and source of photo will be published next Saturday, November 28th. Enjoy the weekend!

Saturday, 21 November 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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1966 Porsche 912
Serious Porsche at a budget: 1966 Porsche 912...  Go >>