Historical Porsche cars and their countless achievements on roads and on race-tracks have been written about and will be talked about as far as cars as we perceive them will roam on this planet earth. With a history unrivaled by any other car manufacturer, Porsche stands tall as probably the most iconic car design ever to have gone into production. And all this greatness owes a large chunk to this not-so-gorgeous-yet-extremely-significant car you see in these pictures, the Glöckler Porsche 356. This car here is a legend that is seldom talked about and underneath this hugely functional but aesthetically deprived master piece is an idea that sparked a revolution, for it is the oldest Carrera of them all.
The car you in these pictures, the Glöckler Porsche 356 without which Porsche may never have had a racing program and if there was one, it might not have been so ingrained from the beginning. The Glöckler Porsche 356 was a brain child of Walter Glöckler who was a motorcycle racer and a car dealer when he wasn’t racing and was based out of Frankfurt. Walter was among the very first people who adopted Porsche as a new brand and was curious about these light weight cars which inspired him to tinker and unlock full potential of these designs in the world of racing. It all begun for Walter in 1948 when the first ever Glöckler Porsche 356 was produced by the Gmünd factory, in next few years, Glöckler would make six race cars. Walter and his team further refined the Porsche model of efficiency featuring light-weight construction and a blind pass to appearances, which meant that the cars were less than 1000 pounds in weight and was built with hand-hammered aluminium panels. Being a dealer, Walter had an easy access to VW and Porsche parts and it meant that the Glöckler Porsche 356 was assembled almost entirely out of them. It was not long before these Glöckler Porsche 356 cars started winning under-1000cc races across Germany and all the time kept improving on Porsche’s factory designs.
Beginning in 1948, the Glöckler series of Porsche’s known as the Glöckler Porsche 356 culminated in 1953 with the Porsche 1500 Super. By that time, Porsche had heard about these light and successful racing cars from Frankfurt, and they entrusted Glöckler with taking over the development of the new 550 sports car and building the first few examples. Even today, this 1500 Super is still considered to be the predecessor of the famed 550 Spyder. Much of the effort from Walter came when Porsche was in its early years and rather than to dive straight into the racing scene, it was busy dealing with stability and survival. However, the success and the brilliant efforts of the Glöckler Porsche 356 was being thoroughly noticed by the engineers at Zuffenhausen and Porsche started to give Glöckler their full support. By 1953, Porsche has managed to come into a situation where it could have its own race car and this is for which they asked Walter to join them for. And Walter’s cousin and a good racer Helm entered the 1953 Le Mans with the official factory Porsche 550 Spyder, inspired hugely by the mid engine coupe’s by Glöckler.
For whatever technical brilliance they had, the Glöckler-Porsches were somewhat eccentric in appearance at the best and their function over form philosophy shouted out aloud may be just a little too loud, but hey, if it wins the race, then it works, right? A lot can be written in a try to explain how exactly opposite these cars were to the idea of a gorgeous automobile, however, we would simply like to say that being inside this brilliant race car engineering example meant two things, that you had a very real chance of winning and two, you could save yourself from looking at the exterior of the car. Features such as wheel spats on all four corners, small chrome grilles on the front, very very upright headlights, and louvers on the fairly odd looking fastback sort of a body structure came to the later Glöckler-Porsches. And these cars were giant killers of their times and would be mind numbingly worthy in the hands of collectors today, but they are far from what you can call as a fetching sight or look anything like Porsche’s that we so dearly love.
Glöckler Porsche 356 which you can see here was the last ever model which Glöckler built, the seventh model and was designed solely to participate at the 1954 Mille Miglia. Historically, Mille Miglia was not just a proving ground for manufacturers as they raced each other to show there supremacy of engineering but it also showcased some of the classiest and the sleekest and the most beautiful cars ever designed. Interestingly, it was Alfa Romeo that pretty much nailed the completion in the original run of the Mille Miglia, and you can read more about it here. Coming back to the Glöckler Porsche 356, this car was unaware of anything that might be even remotely related to things like being stunning, gorgeous, and beautiful, all it wanted was to win the race and for everything else it remained blissfully ignorant.
The Glöckler Porsche 356 had a panoramic window split down the center that helped the makers racing cousin to keep a close tab on its rivals, the car had wheel arches cut in the bodywork itself while the headlights were nearly vertical with a third one in bang in the middle of the grill that looked like it needed another month or so in the incubation chamber to hatch into a full size headlight. All this meant the Glöckler Porsche 356 looked exactly like a big aluminium fast moving confused duck and we are not sure if it was a place any car would have personally wanted to charter into. Interestingly, none of the window frames on the Glöckler Porsche 356 Coupe (as it was known) lined up (now you know, Germans were at this since ages, and those headlights of a BMW S1000RR weren’t a one-off event in history). Furthermore, the coupe’s doors cut into the roof to facilitate the drivers easy exit in a crash, in case you didn’t like that, you could have always driven an open-top and rayed when you were thrown out of it, you landed on a blankets of cotton and not directly into the lap of almighty.
Talking about weird things, the Glöckler Porsche 356 even had tail fins and that could probably be blamed squarely on the Americans and the Cadillac’s strange love for them back in those times. From the sides, the Glöckler Porsche 356 Coupe looked as if it was trying too hard to look like a lot of things and ended up looking like a lot of things just like how certain Mr. Frankenstein turned out to be. All things aside, the engine of this Glöckler Porsche 356 Coupe, was a thing of absolute beauty. It was designed by the legendary Porsche engineer Ernst Fuhrmann himself, it was a Type 547 quad-cam engine from the Porsche 550 Spyder and was eventually also fitted to the extremely rare 356 Carrera. In the Coupe this beautiful engine made amazing 100bhp which meant that with such power and lightweight you could thoroughly enjoy blasting past your completion and see them getting passed and then staring at the exterior quirks of your machine, two kills from a single bullet we say.
Sadly though, as desired, the Glöckler Porsche 356 Coupe never reached the starting grid of the 1954 Mille Miglia due to production delays and it meant that car participated at the grueling Liège-Rome-Liège rally instead. Here too Helm could only co-drive the car limping home after a technical issue. This same car was sold at a private event two years ago and since then it has attended a few events where it has been more than capable of generating more than a few faces of surprised and shocked Porsche connoisseurs who can’t believe the badge right above that third headlight, and we can’t really blame them for it, can we?
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