Ferdinand Porsche and Volkswagen are well known to share a common page in the history of German cars, but there’s been a rather unknown piece of history between him transforming from being the creator of the Volkswagen Beetle to the birth of the first production Porsche, the 356. This gap can only be fulfilled by a single machine that’s survived the test of time – the 1939 Porsche Type 64.
The Type 64, or the KdF-Wagen was specially commission by then government-owned Volkswagen as a long distance competition car that would prove its might with speed and lightness, something Porsche is known for even to this day. Built by the same engineers who worked on the Porsche 356, the company’s first production car, Type 64 was built at Reutter Works, right across the street from Zuffenhausen.
Type 64 used air-craft style riveted lightweight aluminium body panels that housed an air-cooled flat-four engine from the Volkswagen Type 1. Three cars were prepared for the Berlin-Rome race, but just a few weeks before the start, World War II was declared and the first Type 64 was acquired by German labour front. In the following years during WWII, Ferdinand Porsche had relocated headquarters to Austria, where he kept the remaining two examples. While the first car was destroyed by the Managing Director of Volkswagen and the second car lost in time, No.3 is the only example that survives 80 years after its inception.
The 1939 Porsche Type 64 was in truth the first car to bear the Porsche badge, a few years before the Porsche 356. It is a quintessential part of the German carmaker’s history as without it, there might have never been a 356. This historically significant machine head to auction at the RM Sotheby’s Monterey Car Week sale scheduled between August 15-17.