1948 Porsche Prototype Custom Sports Cabriolet

This intriguing link with the very origins of the Porsche marque precedes the launch of the 356, first publicly shown at the spring 1949 Geneva Motor Show. This car was built in Zurich by Hans Waibel, who in 1988 declared that he had show-prepared two Porsche coupes at the request of Ferry Porsche and Louise Piech for display at the Vienna Industrial Exhibition.

He was then approached by a client, Rupprecht von Senger, and asked to build a similar car, which was created by taking a VW chassis which arrived in Switzerland on 18 October 1948, removing the body and fitting a Porsche-like light-alloy cabriolet body and Porsche engine. The tunnel backbone of the VW platform was fitted with an electric fan which channeled air from a Morris Minor grille to cool the hot-running Porsche engine.

Waibel was, he claims, asked by Porsche and Louis Piech to build the first two Porsche 356 coupes, but declined due to pressure of work in his body shop, so the contract went to Beutler or Thun. Von Senger, it appears, subsequently bought six of the first Porsches built in Gmund, which were delivered to him without bodywork.

That first Porsche-VW cabriolet was subsequently put into storage, and did not appear again for some 30 years. It underwent a full restoration in the USA and – now finished in green with a tan interior – was exhibited at Pebble Beach in 1992. Waibel, who became a Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen dealer, gave his recollections of the building of this car in a 1988 videotape and called this car a “fascinating, missing link” in the Porsche story.