After two years of 60-hour weeks, the team rolled the Porsche onto a truck and told it to bring a trophy home from Pebble Beach, or don’t come home at all.
Postwar Sports Cars, Closed
There has probably never been a sports car at the Pebble Beach Concours that deserved the title “postwar” more profoundly than this Gmünd coupe. All cars have expressions, some of them smiling, some of them stern, some of them just confused. But this winsome little coupe has an utterly determined face. It’s the look of a Survivor, and no wonder. It bounced back from one of the most tragic wars in human history…just barely.
Gmünd coupe number 045 had powerful competition in its class at the Pebble Beach Concours last year. There was a freshly restored Ford Daytona Coupe (one of six), a beautiful Zagato-bodied Alfa, the Peterson Museum’s one-off Bosley race car, and the one and only Paris Auto Show Jaguar E-Type.
No one could guarantee that this determined little car would be accepted on an equal footing with such glamorous classmates. After all, as a marque, Porsche had no real standing at Pebble Beach. There could be no denying 045’s modest lineage, either. It was a later, more sporting reflection of the lowly KdF People’s Car. And it derived its power from a plausibly unpopular Wehrmacht military powertrain, one that had certainly not been designed to make a better world…
After the awards ceremony on Sunday afternoon, Dr. Wolfgang Porsche, who had come to Pebble Beach to show his own Austro-Daimler in a different class, phoned his brother back in Germany. Hans-Peter, to his frustration, had been ill and unable to make the trip to California for 045’s long-awaited debut. The conversation went something like this:
“Well, congratulations, brother,” said Dr. Wolfgang Porsche.
“Congratulations — you were first!”
“That’s wonderful. And what were you, Wolfgang?”
Hans-Peter Porsche’s 045 had taken first place in the Postwar Sports Cars, Closed category at the world’s premier concours d’elegance. The judges could not deny the world-changing importance of this little car, which opened the road for rear-engined cars, both on the street and in racing, for decades to come. For performance cars, it was in the most profound sense, archetypal.
The newly elite 045 was trucked back across the country to North Carolina. Now the Road Scholars gave the priceless 356/2 a full shakedown. At last, it was commissioned as a “driver.” Hans-Peter Porsche, like others in his storied family, believes firmly that Porsches are to be driven.
To be sure, 356/2-045 is one of the rarest, most painstakingly restored “drivers” in the world, and by all reports its new owner is delighted. Who wouldn’t be? The car is as fresh and feisty as it was that July 18th in 1950 when it was first shipped to Sweden. And it pleases Ingram no end to point out that, during 045’s two-year resurrection, its new German owner never once felt a need to visit Road Scholars and check up on the shop’s methods or progress. But there was no need, for “pure joy all the time” is alive and well in North Carolina.