what would the type 64 have looked like in 1939?
How did Ferdinand Porsche's first creation compare to its 1930's counterparts?
Car design has always been categorised by different era’s. Everyone is familiar with the sixties for it's dainty body panels and chrome bumpers, also the eighties with it's boxy shapes and pop-up headlights. But, there is an even broader divide than just what decade a car was designed in, and this is whether it was created before or after World War II.
During and shortly after the war, the production of cars was halted but when it came back, vehicle design was profoundly more developed than it ever had been before, leaving much of pre-war car design forgotten about.
A particular pre-war car that is hard to forget would be the elusive Porsche type 64. This was Ferdinand Porsche’s first project for his now world renowned auto-maker and it was designed for road rallies. The car was built on a modified Volkswagen chassis, it was smothered in a streamlined body made from aerospace grade metal, held together with over 2000 rivets. A modest 1.0 litre flat-4 was slung over the car’s rear axle, producing 32 horsepower.
The Type 64 competing in a road rally event.
The Type 64 has such extravagant styling, the only things separating it from appearing as a sixties concept car are the skinny tyres and split windscreen. So how would it have looked back in 1939, compared to the other cars of its era?
Let’s start with the more passenger friendly cars, these were generally built around a box shaped cabin, with a smaller bonnet which narrows as it nears the grill, large sweeping fenders sheltering the front wheels. The differences of this design style to that of the low-slung Type 64 are night and day, yet this is the same for modern cars.
Alfa Romeo P3.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum are the Grand Prix racers. These were the best of the best in performance vehicles at the time, although, by today’s standards they appear to lack massively in aerodynamics, the same can’t be said for the Porsche with it's smooth design and enclosed cockpit, even the wheels were covered by body panels, giving the car the appearance that it's floating along the road.
Mercedes Benz 540K.
The luxury sports cars are probably the most comparable of the thirties to the Type 64, they sat low to the ground and their hugely pronounced front and rear fenders gave them an aerodynamic edge. Still, the Type 64 looks like alien space craft in comparison. Most of the sporty cars of this day had short windscreens and no roof, the Porsche had a narrow, enclosed cabin, the entire body looked like one hand moulded piece, unlike its counterparts.
the bottom line
Ferdinand Porsche built just three Type 64’s, two of which perished in some way or another during the war, leaving only one, privately owned example left. The importance of this car is ineffable. The Type 64 marked the beginning of something great and so many elements of it have been continued right up to the 992 911. The rear mounted boxer engine being the most notable, a design rule that has become synonymous with Porsche.