This 1939 Porsche could become the most expensive German car ever sold
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RM Sotheby's sees a tonne of cool cars pass through their auction house each year, like this extremely rare Renault Turbo 5 for example.
While that Renault was rare, 600 units were produced, and that's 599 more than this 'Holy Grail' Porsche Type 64 that is coming up for auction later this year in California.
Having an extremely bizarre and controversial history, the lineage of the German manufacturer's vehicles is quite hard to pin down, but this one is known as the original Porsche.
For a long time, Ferdinand Porsche's son's 356 was known as the first Porsche ever built, but this wasn't quite right. Ferry's 1948 356 was the first Porsche sports car to be registered in Austria. From 1939-1940, Ferdinand Porsche built three Type 64s, but the one that is going up for auction is the sole surviving example.
Derived from the KdF-Wagen, the precursor to the Volkswagen Beetle, the Type 64 was designed by the same team that later worked on the 356. Using techniques that were used on aircraft of the era, and aluminum panels, engineers managed to keep the weight down and keep a very streamlined shape.
The second car of the three built was put into storage by the Porsche family during the war, and then found by US troops. They then chopped the roof off and used it until it broke down, at which point it was scrapped. Luckily the family held onto this third example, and Ferry used it to relaunch the brand in 1946.
When the brand's focus was turned to the 356, this car was sold to Pininfarina founder Battista Farina who restored it before selling it onto a racer. This racer kept the car until 1995, and in 1997 it was sold to Porsche specialist Thomas Gruber.
Sitting in a very original state, the car still has the same air-cooled flat-4 engine that it was first built with. As an extra, the original tools and a couple of spares are going to be thrown in with the sale.
While it's hard to put a price on a piece of history like this, Porsche expert Andy Prill said: “I’ve seen countless special Porsches in my career, but nothing like this...This is the most historically significant of all Porsche cars and it is simply incredible to find the very first Porsche in this original condition.”
Comparatively, the most expensive German car that has been sold at auction was a Mercedes 300SL Gullwing that sold in 2012 for NZ$7 million. There's no telling if this one is going to sell for more, but with a history like this — it's anyone's game.