Porsche have been responsible for creating a number of influential cars over the years, with an overlooked one being the Porsche Type 64. An important sports car, the Type 64 became a symbol of German ingenuity during a time when the car was seen as a sign of national pride. Ferdinand Porsche developed a machine that surpassed expectations and we’re looking into the history of the Type 64.
The creation of a racing machine
In the 1930s, Hitler wished to provide a mass-produced car that would be affordable for normal workers. Ferdinand Porsche looked at the car that Hitler wanted, the KdF-Wagen, and decided to make a faster and lighter version of the production model. He hoped the state would finance the project, though this couldn’t happen because the National Labour Organisation was focused on a people car as opposed to a sports version.
This didn’t deter Porsche and he met Major Adolf Huhnlein to discuss an endurance motor sport event. Huhnlein, the head of the organisation who arranged motor sports events in Germany, felt inspired by Porsche’s passion and organised a race from Berlin to Rome. The race tied into the production of the KdF-Wagen.
For the event, three special long-distance race cars were proposed. Volkswagen paid for the orders and for political reasons, the cars were referred to as KdF-Wagens, but Porsche engineers called them Type 64.
The design of the Type 64 involved an aluminium body and wheels that were fully covered with removable alloy panels. The car was meant to have two spare wheels due to the long-distance nature of the race. This required the fuel tank to be relocated to the back of the passenger side. The Type 64 utilised a 985 cc engine, resulting in a powerful, aerodynamic vehicle that was ready to race.
Outbreak of war and split
Production began in the summer of 1939, with the three cars being labelled 38/41, 38/42 and 38/43. The first body wasn’t created until two weeks before the official start date of WW2. With the outbreak of the war, the Berlin-Rome race never happened.
As the race was cancelled, a member of the German national trade union, Bodo Lafferentz, received the completed car. Lafferentz got into an accident while driving the car, which caused the damaged vehicle to be returned to the factory.
The other two cars were eventually completed and the chassis of the first one was fitted to the third. Porsche were forced to relocate to Southern Austria during the war because of repeated bombings. One car was destroyed early in the war and another went into storage. This car was discovered by American troops in 1945, who used it for a joyriding until the engine gave out. The final Type 64 was used by the Porsche family and eventually sold to Austrian motorbike racer Otto Mathe.
The Type 64’s colourful history definitely makes it an interesting edition into Porsche’s story.