How Porsche Finally Added A 901 To Its Collection

Jul 15, 2020 3 min read
How Porsche Finally Added A 901 To Its Collection

This rare car turned up in the most unlikely way.

Back in 2014 Porsche finally acquired a Porsche 901 to display at its world-renowned museum. While the barn find car was in poor condition and needed quite the restoration, the fact it was exceedingly rare and of course exceptionally valuable made the effort more than worth it. What’s strange about the find was that a German television crew was responsible for it.

Photo credit: Porsche

The antiques and memorability TV show crew was valuing a collection of items left and forgotten in a barn. This habit of stashing potentially valuable old stuff is also a thing in Germany, a place known for its tidiness. As they sifted through the items, two vintage Porsche 911s were uncovered. One of those, chassis number 300.057, was actually a fabled Porsche 901.

It wasn’t until the crew called the Porsche Museum that the truth of the one Porsche’s origin was revealed. The other was an early-production 911, so it was still of historical significance. Porsche wanted to purchase both, using a third party appraiser to help assess a fair value for the cars.

Photo credit: Porsche

The Porsche 911 wasn’t always called that. In 1963, the car revealed to the public at the Frankfurt Motor Show was called the Porsche 901. That immediately raised the hackles of Peugeot, which felt it had the legal rights for all cars with a three-digit number with the middle digit being a zero. That might sound ridiculous, but the French automaker was able to defend that claim, so Porsche was forced to change the name of the 901 to the 911.

Before the switch was officially put into practice at Porsche, a few 901s had gone through at least most of the production process. A mere 82 Porsche 901s were made, although you wouldn’t know what they are simply by glancing at them. These cars were all badged as Porsche 911s, but a close examination of the chassis and build numbers reveal they were designated as 901s in the factory before Porsche was forced to make the switch.

Restoring the Porsche 901 was a big job. Many body panels were missing and those which were still present had significant rust damage. Pretty much the only remnants of the interior were the dash and steering wheel. The engine was also seized. However, since the car had just sat and hadn’t been restored in any way, Porsche was able to do an extremely correct restoration. It was a painstaking process which lasted three years.

Only genuine parts from the 60s were installed, most coming from a donor ’65 Porsche 911. At one point, Porsche had to search high and low to find the original tool used to make the hole pattern in the original headliner, which was toast. Some components had to be fabricated by hand since replacements were unavailable, with pieces of the original parts used whenever possible.

While it was a slow, difficult, and undoubtedly expensive process, the result of restoring this Porsche 901 is definitely worthy of displaying in the museum.

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