The “Number 1” lives on

The “Number 1” could be forgiven for being a bit daunted by this prospect, quite given that a outside feverishness had risen to an rough 31 degrees. Even a trade lights in a Swiss collateral of Bern seemed to be opposite a unequivocally initial Porsche, a mid-engine roadster from 1948, permitting what seemed like no some-more than 3 cars by any time that a lights incited green. By a time that a automobile eventually reached a inclines of a Bernese Highlands, froth had already started to form in a fuel system, forcing a motorist to give a automobile a break. The good thing about all these array stops was a fact that it gave us some-more time with this singular vestige from Germany’s largest sports automobile brand.

The “Number 1” was returned to Porsche in 1958 and after a prolonged duration out of movement a automobile has been easy for use on a road. It was high time to get it behind on a pavement from a early years – and privately a roads of Switzerland. The mid-engine purrs behind a occupants while during a same time generating an implausible volume of heat. Despite middle acceleration and double clutching, a unsynchronised four-speed delivery crunches somewhat as it moves by a gears, while a speedometer needle dances to a possess rhythm.

From a technical perspective, there’s not most to write home about in a world’s initial Porsche. An aluminium physique has been beaten over a hideaway tube support and a axles, steering, wheels and brakes all originated from a VW Beetle, as did a 1.1-litre engine. At one time, Porsche did raise a engine by 10 hp with a assistance of newly assembled cylinder heads, nonetheless a outlay was still usually 35 hp. However, a engine needs to pierce usually 585 kilogrammes of automobile weight, enabling a limit speed of during slightest 135 km/h. The engine still bears a strange number.


356 B 1600 Super 90 Coupé, 356 B 2000 GS Carrera 2 Cabriolet, 356 A 1600 S Speedster, 356 A 1600 S Coupé, Switzerland, 2018, Porsche AG

The “Number 1” is flanked by 4 other classics

During a debate by Switzerland, a “Number 1” is flanked by 4 other classics: a 356 A 1600 S Coupé, a 356 B 1600 Super 90 Coupé, a 356 A 1600 S Speedster and one of a ultra-rare 356 B 2000 GS Carrera 2 Cabriolets with a Fuhrmann straight missile engine from 1962, of that usually 34 were built. The procession gets a lot of courtesy – maybe since a “Number 1” is not recognized immediately by everyone.

From a “VW Sport” to a forebear of all Porsche models

The “Number 1” indeed began life as a “Type 356 VW sports car”, or a “VW Sport” for short. The thought for a automobile was recognised behind in a summer of 1947. And by Feb 5, 1948, Ferry Porsche took his place behind a circle in a new framework for a initial time. This initial tour indeed took place in a Austrian city of Gmünd as a Porsche association had been systematic to leave Germany in 1944. Ferdinand Porsche re-embraced his Austrian roots and altered his business opposite a border. It was also during this indicate that a tie between a “Number 1” bodyshell and Switzerland initial cropped up: During those post-war years, lightweight metals were impossibly formidable to get reason of in Austria, though not in Switzerland. In lapse for his sales permit, Porsche had to guarantee a supervision in Vienna that a automobile being done of this altered commodity would be sole abroad – Austria indispensable unfamiliar exchanges.

However, it was several months before a automobile was fast and ready. In fact, before even completing a “No. 1”, Porsche had already started constructing a 356 array models, that featured a behind engine rather than a mid-engine. In annoy of this, Porsche chose not to allot a array a new growth number, no doubt since he was already bustling with other designs, such as a Type 360, a Cisitalia racing car.

When a time came to benefaction a “Sport 356/1” as a roadster was strictly known, Porsche looked to Switzerland once again, selecting a vicinity of a renouned Swiss Grand-Prix hold during Circuit Bremgarten, that was already teaming with member from a trade press. It was here that a initial reporters tested a automobile before a competition on a 7.26-kilometre and impossibly dangerous track. The ever initial pushing news about a Porsche was so published in a Swiss Automobil-Revue repository on Jul 7, 1948: The news avowed “full confidence” in a car, a “modern, low-slung, unsentimental sports car”, suitable for “daily use by a sports motorist though also for participating in sporting events…”, charity “control and fortitude in parsimonious bends”.

The “Number 1’s” highway by Switzerland

Suffering from a continual miss of supports since a 356 models still in swell had to be pre-financed, Porsche eventually sole a “No. 1” in Switzerland. As a initial road-approved Porsche, a automobile perceived a ZH 20640 array image on Dec 20. Peter Kaiser, a German designer vital in Zurich, became a vehicle’s initial private owner, profitable CHF 7,500 for a privilege. Kaiser transposed a cable-actuated brakes with a hydraulic resource and tinkered with a “Porsche” signature to make it review “Pesco”, a thought being that it sounded Italian and therefore would not duty as promotion for Porsche. Due to several problems with a vehicle, he sole it to a automobile play about a year later. After that, this unappreciated classical altered hands in Switzerland each integrate of months until sports automobile fan Hermann Schulthess detected a value in 1952. Schulthess got Porsche to implement new brakes and modify a engine to 1.5 litres so that he could take partial in Swiss slalom events, that he did until 6 nuns in an Opel gathering into a behind of him during an outing adult into a mountains. He used a poignant repairs compulsory as an event to make serve enhancements, including incomparable circle arches and turn tail lights. After serve changes in ownership, a “No 1” eventually done a approach behind to Porsche – owners Franz Blaser perceived a code new 356 Speedster in sell for a strange vehicle.


356 A 1600 S Speedster, Switzerland, 2018, Porsche AG

The 356 A 1600 S Speedster in Switzerland

At a time, Porsche was also meditative about prolongation a new 356 sports automobile wholly in Switzerland. Series prolongation in Gmünd was not unequivocally feasible, essentially for domestic reasons. As a result, usually 52 framework were built there. As it happened, a second Porsche, a 356/2, was sent to a Beutler bodyshop formed in Thun in a Bernese Highlands in sequence to check a feasibility of a automobile version. Ernst Beutler was impressed: The initial 1:1 drawings were combined in Jul 1948. Porsche was delighted, and an sequence for another 5 units fast followed.

From Switzerland behind to Germany

Even Porsche’s initial trade satisfactory coming was in Switzerland: A Gmünd-Coupé (356/2-001) costing CHF 15,000 and a Beutler-Cabrio (356/2-002) costing CHF 17,000 stood discriminating to soundness on mount 11 in a categorical gymnasium during a Geneva International Motor Show hold in 1949.

The associations with Switzerland began to finish off towards finish of 1949 when Porsche motionless to settle behind in Germany rather than in a Alps. Porsche altered his newly founded “Porsche Konstruktionen GmbH” to a 600-square-metre gymnasium belonging to “Karosseriewerke Reutter Co. GmbH” in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. In return, Reutter perceived an sequence to build 500 steel bodies. From Mar 1950 onwards, a initial 356 models were made and a Coupé chronicle was sole for 10,500 German Marks.


356 „No 1“ Roadster, Marly, Switzerland, 2018, Porsche AG

Jan Heidak, automechanic during a Porsche Museum, pushing by Marly

We suffer a final few kilometres in a “Number 1”, a engine purring once again now that it’s had a good 10 mins to cold down. Our heads building over a two-piece windscreen, that was unequivocally usually designed as a breeze deflector. Jan Heidak (24), a automechanic during a Porsche Museum, kindly manipulates a floor-mounted pedals, carefully ensuring that a automobile can still perform a duties as a singular envoy during Goodwood in a UK, Vancouver, California and China in jubilee of 70 years of Porsche.

Comparison expostulate in a A and B models

The comparison expostulate demonstrates usually how most a array 356 models differ from a “Number 1” – aside from a fact that a engine was altered to a behind for reasons of space. The oldest “younger” 356 here is a 1600 Coupé from indication year 1956. All 4 gears are synchronised though a changeable poise is rather imprecise. The bowl-shaped steering circle seems outrageous in comparison, a seats are like armchairs and a outlay of 60 hp has no difficulty heaving a 850-kilogramme athlete. The feverishness also has no outcome on it. The other 356 models are also not fazed: The after a indication year, a easier a vehicles are to drive. The cream of a stand is a open-top Carrera 2 – a 130 hp usually vagrant to uncover we what a automobile can do, while a absolute sound of a prosaic engine immediately lodges itself in your brain, never to be forgotten.

And nonetheless a same relates to a time in a singular “VW sport” – a initial and usually mid-engine-356 in a world.