This Volkswagen Type 39 prototype was capable of over 90mph. Once lost, it has now been fully restored.
Porsche’s history is full of more than just its iconic 911 range, with the marque producing some truly innovative road and race cars. However, one lesser known creation of Ferdinand Porsche (and his son, Ferry) is this Volkswagen Type 39, a Beetle like no other.
Designed as a ‘high speed’ variant of the ‘people’s car’, this Volkswagen Type 39 was equipped with a Type 64 engine from the famed Berlin-Rome racing car. Prototype chassis number 1-00003 only has 32hp, but it weighs just 695kg giving it a positive power-to-weight ratio. When put through its paces, the pre-series model proved capable of over 90mph — mighty impressive for a car of its stature at the time.
Unfamiliar with this high-performance Beetle? That’s because the Type 39 never made it into production. The original plan was to build 50 of these go-faster models, but the Second World War intervened. In total, just 14 were built in the German Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen plant, with each car featuring a different Porsche designed engine.
Of the 14 cars created, all were thought destroyed during the war, however, this very special VW was discovered under the rubble of the building that housed it. It was sold in Hamburg in 1948 to a collector who got the car running once again. He changed the VWs original color from black to green and used modern spare parts for maintenance.
Around five years ago, the car was bought by two gentlemen named Thomas König and Oliver Schmidt. They are the founders of the Hamburg Prototype Museum, and thought that the Type 39’s unique story would make for a great exhibit. A complete restoration was commissioned in order to return the car to its original state, something that involved remanufacturing some of its parts.
Looking as impressive as it did when first constructed, the Nitro Black Volkswagen Type 39 is now on public display.