- The last of six influential Porsche-based racing specials by Walter Glöckler
- Designed for the 1954 Mille Miglia; debuted in competition at that year’s Liège–Rome–Liège road rally
- Unique, aerodynamic coupe bodywork; fitted with a later 1.5-liter Porsche four-cam engine
- Restored to its original specification by Ulrich Weinberg in 2005, with engine work by Armin Baumann
- A unique and significant part of Porsche racing history; accompanied by historical file, restoration documentation, and FIVA card with A3 categorization
From the beginning, Porsche and motorsports have been inseparable; it is impossible to imagine a time when Porsches did not compete in, and win, everything from top-level races to amateur events globally. This is not to say that Porsche always had the resources to fund a world-beating works team, however. In its earliest years, while Porsche was still establishing itself, the automaker counted on outsiders to explore the inherent performance potential of its offerings.
Walter Glöckler was one such outsider. A Frankfurt, Germany-based Volkswagen and Porsche dealer from the very early days, he had been a motorcycle racer before World War II; to satisfy this need for speed, Glöckler and engineer Hermann Ramelow constructed a series of racing specials beginning in the late 1940s. The first used no Porsche components, but that changed as Glöckler recognized the value of Porsche’s engineering. Watchful eyes in Gmünd, then Zuffenhausen, paid close attention to the so-called Glöckler-Porsches—in fact, Glöckler’s lightweight, rear-mid-engine racing spyders, particularly the 1953 Glöckler-Porsche 1500 Super, are acknowledged as inspiration for, and direct predecessors of, the Porsche 550.
For his sixth and final Porsche-based car, Glöckler acquired an original 1954 356 Pre-A chassis, number 12213, from the automaker. A copy of the original Kardex on file is, save for this chassis number, blank; this is appropriate for “reserve” chassis that were to serve as replacements or, as in this case, the basis for special coachwork. Power came from a very early example of the Ernst Fuhrmann-designed four-cam “vertical shaft” flat-four, an advanced engine well-suited to this forward-looking vehicle. It was mated to a four-speed gearbox.
Conceived to compete in the 1954 Mille Miglia, this car would be the sole Glöckler-Porsche coupe, an unusual choice in an age when most race cars were open. Frankfurt’s C.H. Weidenhausen, who built the first two Porsche 550 RS Prototypes, executed the aluminum bodywork. Its design would have already stood out for its nearly vertical headlamps (plus a low-mounted central light) and its tailfins, but its unique coupe roofline makes it quite unlike anything else on the road or track. A huge, split backlight gave nearly panoramic views, all the better to spot pursuing cars, while roof cut-outs for the doors ease entry and exit while wearing a helmet.
Unfortunately, the car was not completed in time for the 1954 Mille Miglia, instead debuting at that year’s Liège–Rome–Liège road rally. Walter Glöckler’s cousin, Helm Glöckler, and Max Nathan piloted the car over the course of the demanding event. Despite oil supply problems that forced a technical retirement, the duo is said to have driven the coupe across the finish line. Notably, a Porsche 356 SL Gmünd piloted by Helmut Polensky and Herbert Linge won that year (representing a repeat victory for Polensky, who won in 1952 with Walter Schlüter); Porsche’s motorsports moment had arrived, thanks in no small part to the work of Walter Glöckler and his Porsche-based specials.
After the race, the car spent time at the Porsche factory, and by the end of 1954 it had been exported to the United States and bought by Tom Shipman. Circa the 1970s, it had apparently been acquired by Rudi Klein, and it was parked at his famous sports and luxury car salvage yard near Los Angeles. It would reside there until Hans Heffels, a Frankfurt-based Lufthansa employee, negotiated its purchase in 1993 and returned it to its homeland; however, he was unable to take on the demanding overhaul it required, and it remained in a disassembled state.
In 2005, German Porsche collector Hans Georg Frers obtained the car and commissioned a comprehensive restoration. Ulrich Weinberg of Zetel, Germany was tasked with repairing its bodywork; he preserved all its original aluminum save for its front panel (which is still with the car today). At some point in the first decades of its life, the car’s original engine was replaced by the 1.5-liter four-cam numbered engine P90016, which was originally installed in Porsche 550 Spyder chassis number 550-0026; such swaps were not uncommon at the time. This complex engine was entrusted to specialist Armin Baumann of Switzerland for a complete rebuild.
Subsequently acquired by the consignor in 2016, this remarkable 1954 Glöckler-Porsche 356 remains in excellent restored condition. Accompanied by restoration documentation, a historical file, correspondence with Otto Glöckler, and a FIVA identity card, this is a special, significant piece of the Porsche motorsports story that would make an ideal candidate for many of the world’s top vintage rallies and tours.