This is the story of the sole-surviving VW 39, a pre-production model designed and made by Porsche in 1939.
Ferdinand Porsche and his son Ferry designed the VW 39 as a faster version of the split-window Beetle, giving it a Type 64 engine from the Berlin-Rome race car.
The special engine was only a 1-liter unit with 32hp but with just 695kg to move around, the VW 39 could hit a very impressive for the era top speed of 90mph (145km/h).
Porsche’s original plan was to produce 50 examples of the 39, with Ferdinand and Ferry frequently driving the car to and from the factory in Zuffenhausen, the VW plant in Wolfsburg and Berlin.
However, World War 2 started and disrupted Porsche’s plan. Just 14 examples of the VW 39 were produced in Zuffenhausen, each with a different Porsche engine. By the end of war, 13 of the cars were lost, apart from chassis number 1-00003.
The car was found under ruins in a very sorry state after the war and then sold to a collector in 1948, who painted it grey. Five years ago, the car ended up at the hands of Thomas König and Oliver Schmidt, the founders of the Hamburg Prototype Museum.
The unique piece of Porsche history went through a thorough restoration that lasted over three years. The car returned to its original condition, with many of the components having to be specially manufactured by hand.
The world’s only VW 39 is now standing proud with its glossy Nitro Black finish, just like the first day it rolled off the gates of Zuffenhausen.