The first appearance of the Porsche 356, in 1952, must have seemed a surprise to many people. Here, after all, was an advanced production car from a company that had previously built a smattering of racers, farm tractors, and some tracked vehicles for the German military in World War II. However, for those familiar with Porsche history, the 356 was actually the next step in a logical evolution that had begun years earlier with the Porsche 64.
The Porsche 64 was a Porsche before the Porsche company in its modern guise even existed. It was based on earlier designs—the Type 38 and the Type 114, the latter of which was to have been a 10-cylinder sports car. While the 64 would have a much smaller flat-four 40 horsepower engine, its elongated front hinted at the design cues taken from the 114.
That design was very much of its time. It has the rounded, flowing lines associated with the streamlined Art Deco style favored in the 1930s, but it’s also easy to see how parts of the design would carry over into the Porsche 356 (though in shortened and blunted form) and even up to into the latest iteration of one of the company’s legends, the Porsche 911.
Only three prototypes, with their handcrafted aluminum bodies, were ever built. One of these was destroyed at the outset of World War II. Another was abandoned by GIs in May 1945 after being taken on a few days’ worth of joyrides. The third, owned by Ferry Porsche himself, was restored in 1947, and made one of its last public appearances in 1982.
While the Porsche 64 has been all but lost to history, it was a very important car in its time. That’s due in part to its forward-thinking design, and also because of how much it would contribute to later Porsche classics. Needless to say, we don’t have a Porsche 64 in stock at Porsche of Nashua, but the car spawned an extensive family tree, and we’re proud to feature several of its descendants, from the Porsche 911 to the 2016 Porsche Cayenne.