Exact duplicate: First Porsche 356 re-creation on worldwide tour

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The re-creation of the original 1948 Porsche 356 is assembled in Stuttgart | Porsche Museum
The re-creation of the original 1948 Porsche 356 is assembled in Stuttgart | Porsche Museum

Re-creating an original piece of history is never easy, especially when it’s a seminal, one-of-a-kind concept that was immediately subjected to revisions. That was the situation Porsche faced when it set out to duplicate the very first handmade manifestation of the iconic Porsche 356.

It took eight painstaking months for the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart to research and replicate the 1948 Porsche 356 No. 1, a streamlined roadster that was built to demonstrate Ferdinand Porsche’s vision of a unique and innovative sports car.  The challenge was to peel away all the layers of continuous changes made to the car as it was developed and modified to get it back to exactly how it was on its first day. 

The resulting display model of the first Porsche will be showcased in September at the Porsche Rennsport Reunion at Laguna Seca Raceway in northern California. 

A period photo of the first Porsche roadster in original form | Porsche Museum archive
A period photo of the first Porsche roadster | Porsche Museum archive

During re-creation at the Porsche Museum, modern craftspeople used the same materials and techniques to form the body from raw aluminum sheet metal as was done originally, according to a Porsche news release. Period photos and drawings, original wooden gauges and various journals were used for research.  The team also made use of 21st Century technology for such things as a 3-D scan of the car as it exists today and a computer-assisted milling machine that carved out a life-size model from a block of rigid foam.

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The re-created version of the original Porsche 356 | Porsche Museum

“Back in 1948, tinsmith Friedrich Weber spent two months clothing the first Porsche,” according to the Porsche news release. “The original apparel didn’t last very long, however, for the roadster not only changed hands many times over the years, it was damaged and repaired, modernized and converted. Its attire kept changing but its identity remained the same. It was shaped by history. Yet its essence remains inviolable.

“The original condition of the ‘No. 1’ roadster is lost and can no longer be restored. But its custom-made suit has been reconceived in something very close to the original form.” 

The “suit” is a show car that the Porsche Museum is taking to appearances at special events around the world.  Although it looks as identical as possible to the original, it is a non-operational, life-size display model without engine or running gear. 

The original 1948 Porsche 356 No. 1 as it exists today | Porsche AG

The Porsche 356 No. 1 show car will have its official debut celebration June 8 at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Germany, after appearing at the DRIVE exhibition, Volkswagen Group Forum, in Berlin. 

From July 12-15, the replica will be at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the U.K., before returning to the Porsche Museum for display through September.

The full-scale model will be shown September 8-9 at the Luxury & Supercar Weekend in Vancouver, Canada, and September 27-30 at the Rennsport Reunion at Laguna Seca. After that, it heads for display November 15–25 at the Guangzhou International Motor Show in Guangzhou, China.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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