The stunning Porsche 901 Prototype may at first appear to be an early 911. But in fact, it is the oldest remaining 911, one of four factory prototypes and is the only 911 Prototype known to exist. Upon close examination, one can still see the holes left throughout the car as various components and their placements were tried. The instrumentation cluster is unusual, different from any 911 produced in the intervening 44 years. The factory engineers gave her the nickname of 'Barbarossa.' After service as a prototype and showcar, she was owned by Richard Von Frankburg, the Editor of the factory newsletter Christophorus. Note: the sunroof retracts forward.
When Porsche decided to replace the 356 with the 911 in the early 1960's, the question arose as to whether an open car should be offered to replace the popular cabriolet. By 1964, Porsche had already built its thirteen 901 pre-production Coupe prototypes. Since Karmann had historically built all 356 Cabriolets for Porsche, the decision was made to commission an open 901 prototype body in June of 1964.
The completed body was delivered to Porsche Research in September of 1964 and development of different types of open concepts began on this car. At a Porsche Management Board meeting on February 1, 1965, they decided to go with the innovative Targa concept for the open 911, using this car as the primary example and test bed. A second Targa prototype was then commissioned and both were on the Frankfurt Auto Show stand in November of 1965 when the Targa concept was introduced to the world.
This was found in Germany in 2000 and is in essentially the same condition it was when it left its vigorous regimen of factory testing.Also photographed at :
In the early 1960s, Porsche prepared to introduce a new model that would eventually replace its venerable 356. Over the years, several early design and engineering studies were built, based in part on 356 principles.
As production of the new model approached, Porsche reserved ten consecutive 'replacement chassis' numbers for pre-production cars. Factory records show that only four numbers were actually assigned to bodies, and only one is still known to exist - chassis number 13327, the vintage Porsche on display at the New York International Automobile Show.
As a prototype, this car exhibits noteworthy detail differences from the later production versions. Its manual sunroof slides forward to open, in contrast to the electrically-operated, rearward-opening roof that went into production. Instruments are housed in two pods, rather than the large central tachometer and four flanking gauges which have always been a trademark of the production Porsche 911. On the prototype, hot air was ducted to the side window sills to keep the glass free of condensation; early 911s were not so equipped. The front lid is counterbalanced by torsion bar springs, and the engine cover is held open by coil springs; the production version would adopt gas struts to hold the lids open.
Many components of Porsche $13327 are immediately recognizable to 356 owners. A passenger assist handle from the 356 C model is attached to the right A-pillar. The steering wheel and horn ring were also taken directly from the late 356 models. Its braking system, too, is taken over nearly unchanged form the last of the 356 line, the 356 C.
Porsche has always prided itself on cars that are 'made by hand,' but nowhere is this more evident than on this prototype 911. The fuel tank is built up using more than 20 hand-formed steel panels, welded together to form a single fuel cell. The door sills and seat rails are also hand-made, with abandoned seat mounting holes and file marks in evidence. The car was obviously the object of extensive experimentation. Over time, several different, mutually exclusive heating and ventilation systems, including a gasoline heater, were installed; experiments finished, the abandoned openings were sealed by small aluminum plates.
In the exotic world of hand-crafted, custom-bodied automobiles, it is not unusual for two cars to have apparently identical but subtly different bodies or even to exhibit dimensional differences from side to side. The first 911 showed some of these trails, indicating that it was built to a tight schedule, possibly from one of the major European auto show of early 1964. Some trim items vary dimensionally from side to side, and the backs of the gauges bear a September 1963 date stamp.