One of the world’s oldest surviving Porsche 911s has gone from decrepit barn find to a restored classic that did its first public drive as part of the recent Hamburg-Berlin Classic road rally in northern Germany.
The historically significant 1964 911 coupe was sent to the rally by the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen as part of the company’s “70 years of Porsche sports cars” celebration.
The bright-red 911 is one of the museum’s most-treasured automobiles. The heritage wing of the German automaker completed a four-year restoration of the car late last year after researchers determined that it was the 57th car in the very-first run of 911 sports cars (which were then called 901 before a trademark dispute with Peugeot forced Porsche to change the nomenclature).
The oldest 911 in the Porsche Museum collection went on the road for the three-day rally driven by one of the car’s former owners, Bernd Ibold, along with Otto Schulte, the host of the German junk-hunting reality-TV show Der Trödeltrupp (The Junk Troop) that uncovered the ragged remains of No. 57, plus a 1968 911, in August 2014.
After making the discovery, the show’s producers contacted Alexander Klein, manager of the Classic Car Collection at the Porsche Museum, to tell him that they had found a badly deteriorated pair of 1960s 911s while rummaging through a cache of abandoned vehicles on a former farm in Brandenburg.
When the TV people told Klein that one of the barn-find cars bore the serial number 300057, he knew immediately that they had found something very special indeed: one of the first 911s ever built and among the oldest still in existence.
The museum had long sought one of these very-early examples, and jumped at the chance to obtain it. Eleven days later, two experts from the Porsche Museum arrived at the farm to inspect the two vehicles.
“They first encountered a gold-colored 911L from 1968 in a very poor state of repair,” according to a report the Porsche Newsroom website. “At the very back of the barn, for the most part still covered by a thick layer of dust, the two visitors from Zuffenhausen found the remains of a red 911. Both of its front wings (fenders) were missing and large sections of the vehicle had already been eaten away by rust.
“Save for the instrument panel, most of the interior consisted of mere fragments. The brakes were seized, and so was the engine. But the chassis number was pristine, and it proved beyond all doubt that the vehicle was an original. One of the museum team’s long-cherished dreams was finally within reach: To have in its collection a 911 from 1964.”
The provenance proved to be a valuable treasure for the owner of the junk pile: the two heaps were purchased from him by the museum for the heady sum of 121,500 euro, which is about $142,000. The sum broke down to 100,000 euro for the 1964 911 and 14,500 euro for the 1968 model.
While the museum staff was faced with the daunting task of restoring the ’64 car to original, the decision was made to leave the ’68 911 in “as-found” condition as part of the historic record of the barn-find discovery.
The ruins of the 1964 911 were rebuilt as accurately as possible, the museum says, with the extensive bodywork, mechanical refurbishing and interior replacement taking a little more than four years.
“The parts that needed to be replaced were supplied by the bodyshell of a 911 vehicle from 1965,” the museum report noted. “This guaranteed that the composition, characteristics and quality of the sheet metal and steel would be as authentic as possible.
“The body engineers molded and welded the steel and sheet metal for around 12 months. Piece by piece, the torso of the No. 57 was restored to its original condition.”
The Hamburg-Berlin Classic road rally was a new adventure not only for the reborn 911 (901) but for Ibold and Schulte as well, neither of whom had ever before been on such an event. The museum also sent two later 911s to take part in the lengthy tour: a 1981 911 SC 3.0 and a 1975 911 2.7.
All three Porsches made it to the finish line at the famed Hamburg Fish Market.