RM Sotheby’s shook the ground at Luftgekühlt on Saturday when it announced that the earliest car to wear Porsche lettering on its nose, the Type 64, would be offered at the company’s signature collector car auction in August during Monterey Car Week.
Named simply Sports Car 3 at the time of its creation in 1939, the Type 64 is the sole survivor of the three seminal prototypes that would form the basis for the beloved 356 and 911 models to come.
Luftgekühlt (air-cooled in German) is a massive annual celebration of classic Porsches, held this weekend on the back lot of Universal Studios in Los Angeles, where the auction house revealed its news.
The Type 64’s enveloping body that seemed so shockingly avant garde at the time was designed by Erwin Komenda for Ferdinand Porsche, who took the fundamentals of his “people’s car” to create a lightweight rear-engine racer to compete in a Rome to Berlin auto race that never happened, canceled because of Germany marching into World War II.
While Sports Car 1 was wrecked in a crash and Sports Car 2 was destroyed by occupying forces after World War II, the third prototype was used during the conflict by Ferdinand Porsche and his son, Ferry, as personal transportation. The Type 64 was kept at the family estate in Zell-am-See, Austria, and in 1946, Ferry had the raised PORSCHE block lettering applied to the car’s nose, when he registered the car under the new company name.
In 1947, the aluminum body was cleaned up by the young Italian design house Pinin Farina. A year later, the car was demonstrated on public roads, where it was spotted by Austrian private racer Otto Mathé, who bought the car a year later. Mathé enjoyed a successful racing career with Type 64 in the 1950s, and kept it until his death in 1995.
In 1997, the Type 64 was purchased by vintage racer and Porsche author Thomas Gruber, who competed with it in a number of historic competitions, including Goodwood in England and the Austrian Ennstal Classic. The car goes to auction from the collection of its fourth owner.
The Porsche is in “delightfully patinated” condition, according to RM Sotheby’s, which holds its annual California auction at the Monterey Conference Center, this year on August 15-17, during the week that culminates in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
“Without the Type 64, there would be no Porsche 356, no 550, no 911,” Marcus Görig, car specialist for RM Sotheby’s, said in a news release. “This is Porsche’s origin story, the car that birthed the company’s legend, and it offers collectors what is likely an unrepeatable opportunity to sit in the seat of Ferdinand and Ferry Porsche.”
Andy Prill, a well-respected Porsche specialist who inspected the Type 64, noted, “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.”
RM Sotheby’s has not publicized an estimated value for the unique car. For more information about the sale, visit the auction website.