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Rare 1948 Porsche up for bids

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A prototype custom sports cabriolet, described as a ‘historically important Porsche’ has been listed for sale by Coopers Classics in New York.

The 1948 car is considered by many as a forefather to the later factory 356 cars with such details as a curved windshield and swooping bodywork. It is believed to be one of two built in Zurich by the renowned Swiss Coachbuilder and one of the creators of the early 356, Hans Waibel.

Waibel is said to have had close ties to Dr Ferdinand Porsche before and after World War II, including building two prototypes and a commission to produce two show cars in 1948. The 356 was originally first shown at the 1949 Geneva Motor Show and holds a special place among Porsche aficionados.

Historians say it is the car that help defined the brand's sportscars and their shape. However, the prototype was never claimed to be a genuine Porsche, having been built on a VW chassis with a light-weight aluminium body.

But the styling cues that marked the early 356s are clear, except for headlights that were sunk into the bodywork and the prototype's mesh grille, which had an opening to direct cooling air via an electric fan to the rear-mounted engine.

Coopers says the prototype carries a unique provenance with ownership history including some of the major players in early Porsche history. These included the then president of VW AG Switzerland, a M Debrunner and Ruprecht von Senger.

Von Senger financed and established the early Porsche dealership network in Europe. The car was last registered in Switzerland in 1959. It was put into storage for 20 years and eventually sold to a Californian restoration specialist Michael Rizzuto.

Rizzuto sold the car in unrestored condition to Hollywood film director and producer Monty Montgomery in 1988. Montgomery commissioned a full restoration and upon completion in 1992 it was exhibited at the famous Pebble Beach concours in California.

The rare prototype is finished in a metallic green with white and green interior. Coopers has not listed an estimated price for the car but when it was last sold in London in 1996 it fetched just $37,000. This time around the car is expected to fetch a much higher price.

Neil McDonald
Contributing Journalist
Neil McDonald is an automotive expert who formerly contributed to CarsGuide from News Limited. McDonald is now a senior automotive PR operative.
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