Vis­i­tors to the Porsche Mu­seum in Stuttgart canʼt fail to come away im­pressed with the mouth-wa­ter­ing se­lec­tion of cars on dis­play, from fac­tory pro­to­types to fa­mous race-win­ners. How­ever, un­til last year, one car was miss­ing from the col­lec­tion: an origi

Classic Porsche - - Contents - Words: Chris­tian Steiger; Keith Seume Pho­tos: Porsche AG; Deniz Cala­gan; K Enzthaler

How the Porsche Mu­seum fi­nally got its hands on a 901-series coupé

When Kuno Werner stands next to the bright red coupé, the 43-year-old di­rec­tor of the Porsche Mu­se­umʼs restora­tion work­shop looks for all the world as if heʼs stepped out of the pages of a 1964 edi­tion of the house magazine Christopho­rus. All thatʼs miss­ing are the Ro­den­stock glasses and the 1960s-chic silk cra­vat needed to com­plete the im­age. As he strokes the steer­ing wheel of the Porsche coupé, he ex­plains in a pre­cise man­ner why he would­nʼt have cho­sen to buy a Mer­cedes 230SL back in 1964…

It is ob­vi­ous from his words and man­ner that this rare 901-series Porsche has fallen into the right hands. There is far more to a restora­tion than fix­ing sheet metal and me­chan­i­cal parts – a great restora­tion is what Porsche refers to as ʻem­pathicʼ, one that does not ob­scure the his­tory of the sub­ject.

ʻOf course, we could have re­turned this car to a con­di­tion thatʼs as good as new,ʼ says Kuno Werner. ʻBut that would have meant re­mov­ing all traces of its past life.ʼ Such traces as those small scratches and scars on the steer­ing wheel, win­dows and pan­els that only catch the eye at a sec­ond glance and tes­tify to the car ʼs vul­ner­a­bil­ity and his­tory even af­ter a restora­tion. Itʼs what some to­day call ʻpati­naʼ…

This car is the ear­li­est 911 cur­rently in the Porsche col­lec­tion, a coupé with the chas­sis num­ber 300057. Strictly speak­ing, of course, it is not a 911 but a 901, as­sem­bled on the evening of 22nd Oc­to­ber 1964, the very day on which Ferry Porsche an­nounced the re­nam­ing of the new model as the 911, fol­low­ing protests from Peu­geot. Sadly, at that time, Ferry never made the de­ci­sion to keep such an early car for the mu­seum, which is why Porsche in more re­cent times has been search­ing for a 901 for its col­lec­tion. And now it has one, thanks to a TV show.


The point at which the team at the Porsche Mu­seum knew theyʼd struck lucky was one day back in Au­gust 2014 when they re­ceived a tele­phone call from an em­ployee at a tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion com­pany who worked on a TV show called Trödel­trupp – lit­er­ally trans­lated as ʻJunk Troopʼ. The show was about track­ing down old trea­sures – a lit­tle like the pop­u­lar Amer­i­can Pick­ers or Sal­vage Hunters shows in the USA and UK – and in their trav­els, the team had stum­bled across an old Porsche.

Not know­ing any­thing of its his­tory, one of the crew called the Porsche Mu­seum, who in turn asked what con­di­tion the Porsche was in. ʻRedʼ came the an­swer. OK, so how about the chas­sis num­ber? It was when the re­searcher read that out the Mu­seum knew it had struck gold, for it turned out it was num­ber 57 off the line…

The Porsche Mu­seum looked in the files and dis­cov­ered that #300057 was sold through a dealer in Ratin­gen (NRW) on 27th Novem­ber 1964, with the car regis­tered to a cus­tomer in the Fed­eral state of Bran­den­burg. It then passed through eleven own­ers, the last be­ing a Bernd Ibold from Ber­lin, who regis­tered it in 1978 and then put it in stor­age in a lo­cal vil­lage.

At some point, Herr Ibold de­cided to ʻre­storeʼ the car, and as was cus­tom­ary in the days when an old Porsche was sim­ply an old sports car, he be­gan dis­man­tling it, re­mov­ing the rusty doors and wings be­fore throw­ing them away with­out find­ing any suit­able re­place­ments.

When asked, he said he wanted 20,000 Eu­ros for the car, but keen to be seen as noth­ing but fair, Porsche sought an in­de­pen­dent val­u­a­tion from two dif­fer­ent ex­perts, re­sult­ing in the Mu­seum pay­ing 107,000 Eu­ros for the pur­chase of the Porsche. Ap­par­ently, af­ter the TV show was aired, Herr Ibold re­ceived no fewer than 50 mar­riage pro­pos­als(!), and the view­ing fig­ure soared to a record-break­ing 5.5mil­lion.

Kuno Werner was on a busi­ness trip when the pro­gramme

was aired on TV but, once the 901 was safely back at Zuf­fen­hausen, was soon spend­ing even longer out on the road, search­ing out all the 901-series Porsches he could track down, to look at the de­tails to en­sure that #300057 was re­stored cor­rectly. Among those he vis­ited was Alois Ruf, who had pre­vi­ously re­stored #300024, and who was able to pass on count­less tips. ʻWe could now say,ʼ says Werner, ʻwhat the cor­rect head­liner looked like, for ex­am­ple.ʼ

He made count­less trips to the archives to look at pho­to­graphs and files, which threw light on a num­ber of puz­zling de­tails his team had dis­cov­ered. For ex­am­ple, there was a strange ʻholder ʼ in the glove box – was it to se­cure a drink, a fore­run­ner of the mod­ern cup holder? No, as it turns out, it was to keep safe the driver ʼs pack of cig­a­rettes… Also in the records was proof that the pad­ding on the driver ʼs seat was meant to be softer than usual. The re­search also showed that #300057 still re­tained the orig­i­nal ex­tra-long pre-pro­duc­tion in­te­rior mir­ror and cor­rect seat ad­justers used solely on the first cars.

Kuno Werner also dis­cov­ered that the grille on the en­gine lid was not cor­rect, it hav­ing been re­placed by a pre­vi­ous owner for some rea­son. The orig­i­nal is held to­gether by cap­tive nuts, rather than riv­ets, and sits a lit­tle more proud of the lid. This meant that the owner could eas­ily cut his hand while clean­ing the car, so Porsche de­cided in 1964 that the de­sign must be changed. But for Werner, it was im­per­a­tive that they re­fit­ted the cor­rect orig­i­nal part, man­ag­ing to track down two at a dealer in the USA. A deal was agreed at a fig­ure which would have se­cured a new mod­ern hatch­back… The restora­tion team was keen to re­tain as much of the orig­i­nal car as pos­si­ble, sheet­metal in­cluded, and af­ter hav­ing the bodyshell dipped to re­move the paint, they were able to save around two thirds of the pan­els,


re­place­ments for the cor­roded sec­tions and miss­ing bolt-on pan­els be­ing sourced from a 1965 911 bodyshell pur­chased spe­cially as a donor. Sadly, the orig­i­nal en­gine was not with the car, but a year-cor­rect fac­tory re­place­ment was built up and pressed into ser­vice.

So as not to re­move ev­i­dence of the car ʼs his­tory, the mu­seum work­shopʼs crew left not only the orig­i­nal fac­tory de­cals, some of which are now scratched, but also the var­i­ous stick­ers which one of the eleven pre­vi­ous own­ers had at­tached, in­clud­ing the Bar­dahl (oil ad­di­tive) logo and the mem­ber ʼs badge of the Ber­lin Po­lice Sports As­so­ci­a­tion, Mo­tor­sports Depart­ment.

The in­te­rior of the glove­box was re­flocked, but the orig­i­nal ash­tray was welded and re­paired, rather than re­placed, as it opens wider to ac­com­mo­date cigars, a fea­ture pe­cu­liar to the 901. Once again, keen not to hide the story of this car, the de­ci­sion was also made to re­store the dam­aged ma­hogany-rimmed steer­ing wheel in such a way that the re­pair work was vis­i­ble as darker ar­eas show­ing where the orig­i­nal ma­te­rial was miss­ing. They also kept ev­ery­thing they found when strip­ping the car down, in­clud­ing a half-fin­ished pack of HB cig­a­rettes, which is now dis­played along with other arte­facts in a case along­side the car.

Kuno Werner is proud that the restora­tion of the 901 has been car­ried out in such a sym­pa­thetic way, when it would have been so easy to fall in line with what has be­come the nor­mal prac­tice of over-restor­ing im­por­tant cars. With the project thought to be com­plete, there were al­ready about 1000 hoursʼ labour in the body­work, and a fur­ther 500 in the me­chan­ics, but it turned out even then the work was­nʼt all done. The up­hol­sterer was called back in to make some changes sub­se­quent to the of­fi­cial un­veil­ing af­ter Werner and his team had dis­cov­ered ex­actly how the seam on the in­ner door panel should look. Per­haps, philosophises Werner, a car like #300057 is never re­ally fin­ished.

Look­ing back, no­body would have com­plained if Porsche had de­liv­ered such an early ex­am­ple of the 911 in bet­ter than new con­di­tion, but the courage of the restora­tion team to leave traces of use is to be ap­plauded. Num­ber 57 lives to tell its own story, not sim­ply that of the re­stor­ers. CP


Above: Time­less in every way, the 901 marks the start of a blood­line which can be traced to to­dayʼs 991-series 911s. Al­though it looks lit­tle dif­fer­ent to any other SWB 911, the 901 dif­fers in many im­por­tant de­tails

Be­low: The re­stored in­te­rior is a joy to be­hold, with great care taken to pre­serve as much of the his­tory as pos­si­ble. No at­tempt was made to hide re­pairs to the steer­ing wheel, for ex­am­ple

Above left and right: The in­te­rior trim was mostly in­tact, in­clud­ing the wood dash in­serts and gauges

Top left and right: As found, the car was in poor con­di­tion but for­tu­nately it had not been the sub­ject of a botched re­build in the past

Be­low left and right: About 75 per cent of the orig­i­nal metal was re­tained, a ʻdonor ʼ 1965 911 bodyshell used to lit­er­ally fill in the gaps…

Above: Kuno Werner (left) and au­thor Chris­tian Steiger dis­cuss the project. As you can see, the 901 was in good com­pany…

Be­low: Once back from chem­i­cal dip­ping to re­move all traces of old paint and cor­ro­sion, it was pos­si­ble to as­sess what work was re­quired to re­store the ʼshell

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