Porsche 356/2 'Gmünd' Coupe (1950)

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Period Competition History - Original Interior

Odometer:
Unavailable
Transmission:
Manual
Drive Side:
LHD
United KingdomLocation: United Kingdom United KingdomTitle/Tax Status: United Kingdom

Origins

In 1943, under threat of bombing raids, Porsche temporarily moved their headquarters of 12 years from Zuffenhausen in Stuttgart to the Austrian town of Gmünd. Hidden the other side of Grossglockner Mountain, the town offered a safe haven for production beyond the threat of war. Extensive local farms meant that despite porting a company of two hundred to a small Austrian town, there would still be plenty to support the workforce. That said, without a railway, a connection to the north and no suppliers, materials and machinery would be hard to come by. Initially the former sawmill would be used to create agricultural machinery, before a contract to design the type 360 for Italian race car manufacturer Cisitalia would provide some funds, funds that would go towards Ferdinand ‘Ferry’ Porsche’s to build his own dream car.

This would come in the form of 356/1; a prototype two-seater open roadster with a tiny, mid-mounted air-cooled flat four. Most of the mechanicals were derived from Volkswagen’s Beetle, its engine a 1.1 litre unit that made just 40 horsepower. Its aluminium bodywork and lightweight construction meant 356/1 tipped the scales at a scant 585kg.

With the 356?“No.?1”?Roadster, Ferry Porsche fulfilled a dream – that of his own sports car. A courageous plan for a difficult period in the late 1940s ~ Thomas Ammann

The all-aluminium body had been designed by Porsche designer Erwin Komenda. Komenda had previously contributed to the original VW Beetle and was the former chief designer of experimental bodywork at Daimler-Benz. He would remain with Porsche until his passing, penning the 356, 550 Spyder and elements of the Porsche 904.

356/1 would set the core design principles for the succeeding 356, with one key difference. For production, and from 356/2 onwards, the engine would move to the rear of the car to reduce build costs and make room for luggage and occasional use rear seats. The complex tubular frame of ‘Number 1’ would make way for a steel box frame but the body retained the hand-beaten aluminium bodywork.

Following the move to Gmünd, Porsche was in urgent need of a cash injection. Swiss entrepreneur Rupprecht von Senger advanced the money to Ferry Porsche for a short production run of sportscars. The money had in fact come from a client of his, a Swiss hotelier by the name of Bernhard Blank. In return for advancing the money, Blank owned the first two cars and the exclusive rights to selling the cars in Switzerland.

The complexity of sourcing lightweight materials after the war meant Ferry Porsche needed von Senger’s support. This fascinating partnership ensured the delivery of In Ferry Porsche’s own words, ‘We concluded a contract with Mr. von Senger for the delivery of aluminium sheets from Switzerland. Authorisation from the Austrian government in Vienna was required to import the material. It was granted to us on the condition that we sold the completed vehicles exclusively abroad, as Austria urgently needed foreign currency’.

Whereas 356/1 would exist as just one car (-001), 356/2 would complete a total production run of 52 cars (-052). Between 1948 and 1951, Porsche would build 44 coupes and 8 convertibles. There were spare chassis and 11 additional bodies created for competition cars. The ‘factory’ in Gmünd was tiny, and with demand outstripping capacity, the manufacture of some bodies was outsourced to small specialist suppliers; Beutler, Kastenhofer, Keibl and Tatra.

Engines were sourced wherever possible including existing vehicles with base engine out of the Kdf Wagen. The engines were overhauled and fettled, increasing power from 25hp to c.40hp.

Scania’s relations with Volkwagen are longstanding. Now a part of the Volkswagen group, Scania started the relationship as the main importer of VW motorcars into Sweden in 1948. Regarded as innovators and leaders of low cost, economical trucks, there was an obvious synergy between the brands. Most of the early Gmund’s built were supplied new to Austria or Switzerland, but having remained a neutral state throughout the second world war, there were several entrepreneurs with sizeable disposable income. As a result, Scania Vabis agreed to import 15 Gmund’s into Sweden.

This example was completed on the 12th June 1950, with final assembly carried out by Tatra in Salzburg as were each of the 15 Scania cars. The Kardex report notes that this example was approved in Gothenburg after arrival on 9th November 1950 and registered in the name of its first keeper Automobilfirma Per Nyqvist AB 9 days later.

  • 1. Automobilfirma Per Nyqvist AB, Göteborg. 18 november 1950. (O26803).
  • 2. Harald Wållgren AB, Göteborg. 23 May 1951. (O26803).
  • 3. Gert Kaiser, Stockholm. 4 June 1952. (A58111).

Its early ownership is well documented, thanks to the family of the third owner. On 4th June 1952, this example was acquired by Gert Kaiser. Kaiser’s time in the Gmund would spark a lifelong passion and love of the Porsche marque with the next few years seeing him race 356 1500s, Carreras and a 550 Spyder in Sweden. Alongside co-driver Henry Ericsson, Gert would enter the Gmund into the 1952 Midnattssolsrallyt, just two weeks after collecting the car.

The Rally to the Midnight Sun, as its translation suggests, would see the field race to the artic circle, chasing the midnight sun. The rally took place on a mixture of surfaces over 355 miles Several photographs of the car during the rally have been located and the Gmund placed 7th in Class IV for cars up to 1.1 litres.

  • 4. Karl-Henrik Östman, Stockholm 3 July 1952. (A58111).
  • 5. Motorcentralen A Ström, Skänninge. 1 November 1952. (E16742).
  • 6. Erik Blom, Kiruna. 12 October 1953. (BD16174).
  • 7. Daniel Häggström, Bondersbyn. 12 July 1954. (BD16174).
  • 8. Johan Hällström, Stockholm. 13 November 1954. (AC21140).
  • 9. Sture Johansson, Nyåker. 30 April 1963. (AC21140).
  • 10. Deregistered from Sweden in 1974 and sold to Norway

An undated advert by renowned 356 specialist Gary Kempton of Florida places the car for sale in the USA and a photo soon after places the car in the collection of 356 fan Perry Urena in California.

  • 11. Gary Kempton
  • 12. Perry Urena
  • 13. Jim ‘Gmündmeister’ Barrington
  • 14. Cal Turner III
  • 15. UK custodian
  • 16. DK Engineering

Next it notably found residence with none other than Jim ‘Gmündmeister’ Barrington. Barrington was a huge fan of the little coupes. By 1994, this example had been joined by no fewer than four other Gmünd coupes within Barrington’s collection. The car had received a fresh coat of paint but the interior remained untouched. Documented in an article by Excellence in October of that year, this Gmünd is noted as being a standout example and an ‘invaluable index for restoring its stablemates’. A keen racer, Barrington and his son both raced a Gmünd extensively, but this example was preserved on account of retaining its original interior to date.

Barrington is understood to have sold the car through G&W Motorwerkes of Staunton, VA in 2004 to Cal Turner III. Turner had by this time accumulated some of the most significant Porsche’s ever built, including 911 R Prototype #4, a 718 RSK along with various competition 356s. Housing the car at his residence in Nashville, the Gmünd would be seen on several occasions, with Turner hosting the annual Tennessee Tubs 356 meeting at his home. Each occasion would bring close to 100 avid Porsche fanatics visit his home and there are numerous photos documenting the car alongside its significant Porsche stablemates.

In 2007, the Gmünd was purchased by its most recent custodian and client of DK Engineering. The car was imported into the UK and road registered. Since then, the car has been dry stored as part of a world class collection of early Porsches and VWs. In 2024, DK Engineering purchased this Gmünd coupe and carried out a full service to ensure the new custodian can enjoy the car as intended. This wonderful example, complete with its original interior is available to view at our showrooms outside London immediately.

  • 1 of 44 of the 'Austrian Porsche' Couples
  • 7th IC 1952 Midnattssolsrallyt
  • Retaining its original interior from new
  • Understood to be the oldest Porsche in the UK
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  • Porsche 356/2 'Gmünd' Coupe
  • £POA
  • DK Database ID: #1910

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