The Porsche Type 64, considered to be the oldest-surviving car in the luxury brand’s lineup, is set to be auctioned off for $20 million.
International auction house RM Sotheby’s has announced that the Type 64 will be up for sale at an upcoming event in August. The company described the vehicle as “the most significant surviving piece of Porsche engineering and design history.”
The German car maker’s founder, Ferdinand Porsche, designed the Type 64 himself for a race between Berlin and Rome that was supposed to happen in September 1939.
The vehicle’s concept was based on the Volkswagen Beetle, also known as the KdF Wagen, which Porsche had also designed. However, unlike the Beetle, the Type 64 was fitted with streamlined aluminum body panels and a 32-hp flat-four.
Unfortunately, the scheduled race never materialized with the advent of war. Nazi Germany had invaded neighboring Poland that same year, forcing the development of the Porsche prototype to be discontinued. Only one Type 64 was ever built, and it fell to the hands of the German government.
The Type 64 project was later picked up by Ferdinand’s son, Ferry Porsche. He built his first version of the car, with chassis #2, in December 1939. This was followed by another vehicle, with chassis #3, in June 1940.
The third Porsche car used the skeletal frame of the original Type 64, which was almost destroyed in a crash involving Volkswagen’s managing director at the time.
Ferry’s chassis #2 did not survive World War II, but his chassis #3 did. His family was able to keep the vehicle by the time they relocated from Germany to Austria. He later had the Porsche company name placed at the front of the Type 64 and registered it in 1946.
Battista “Pinin” Farina, an Italian car designer and founder of the coachbuilding company Carrozzeria Pininfarina, restored the Porsche prototype in 1947.
When Porsche released its first branded car, the Type 356 roadster, in 1948, it was shown alongside the Type 64 at a presentation in Austria.
The famed race car driver Otto Mathé took a fancy of the earlier vehicle after driving it for several demo laps. He bought the Type 64 from Porsche the following year and kept the car for 46 years until his death in 1995.
Shortly after Mathé’s death, the car was sold to Austrian author and Porsche enthusiast Thomas Gruber. Gruber took the Type 64 with him at different vintage racing events such as at Goodwood and the Austrian Ennstal Classic.
The legendary Porsche Type 64 will now be available for buyers at RM Sotheby’s auction in Monterey.
Marcus Görig, a car specialist at RM Sotheby’s, described the importance of the Porsche prototype in car automobile history.
“Without the Type 64, there would be no Porsche 356, no 550, no 911,” Görig said.
“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.”
Görig added that owning the Type 64 will allow the next buyer to be “the first row” at future Porsche events in the world.