Historic Porsche or Marketing Fake?

I passed on mentioning this car last week because I had determined in my mind that this was a fake. After taking another look, I’m not 100% sure, although I’m still leaning towards that end. I thought I’d throw it out here to see what everyone thought.

This particular car is a prototype designed and built by Hans Waibel. Waibel is said to have had close ties to Dr. Ferdinand Porsche including building a couple of prototypes destined for an auto show the year before the Porsche 356 was first shown at the 1949 Geneva Motor Show.

It’s said that this particular car was the prototype 356 and is thus a Porsche through and through. The thing that gets me, as well as most naysayers, is that the car is even up for sale in the first place. IF this were one of two prototype 356 cars built, wouldn’t it stand to reason that Porsche themselves would have snatched these up long ago? And if not them, there are plenty of serious Porsche collectors that would not have even let this thing go to auction.

Perhaps Ferdinand Porsche did indeed take design cues from this car in developing the 356, but that fact alone wouldn’t make the Waibel prototype a true Porsche. That’s like calling a Bentley a Chrysler because the 300 was designed after it (not that it was, but when you put that Bentley style grill on there, I have to take a second look to be sure).

Here’s what the auction listing over at Cooper Classics has to say about the car:

This incredibly rare one-off aluminum body prototype Porsche custom Sports Cabriolet is finished in Metallic Green with a Tan Interior. It was built in 1948 by the renowned Swiss Coachbuilder and one of the principal creators of the early 356 cars – Hans Waibel. Waibel had close ties to Dr. Porsche before and after WWII including building two prototypes and a commission to produce two show cars in 1948. The car is truly a forefather to the later factory 356 cars with such details as a curved windshield. It carries a unique provenance with ownership history including some of the major players in early Porsche history including M. Debrunner, president of VW AG Switzerland, and Ruprecht von Senger. Von Senger financed and established the early Porsche dealership network in Europe much like Max Hoffman would do later in the U.S. in 1953. The car was last registered in Switzerland in 1959. It was put into storage for some 20 years and eventually sold to Michael Rizzuto, a restoration specialist in the United States . Mr. Rizzuto sold the car in unrestored condition to film producer Monty Montgomery in 1988. Mr. Montgomery commissioned a full restoration with Hill and Vaughn and upon completion in 1992 it was exhibited at Pebble Beach. The car remains in beautiful condition to this day. This is truly a historic automobile and an authentic predecessor to the factory Porsche 356 Cabriolets that were to be built in later years.

It will be interesting to see how much money this car fetches and who snaps it up. In the back of my mind I wonder if someone didn’t know how to market this car, so they took a classic car from that period and decided to call this one a prototype of it. In this case a Porsche 356. Very shady, I know, but out of the question? Not at all. How do you combat the story spun around the car?

What does everyone think? Historic Porsche or Marketing Fake?

[Via CooperClassicCars.com & CarsGuide.com]


  1. Yeah, the comments on one of those websites aren’t too positive for the Porsche argument:

    I know the car inside out. I know Mr. Waibel sen and jun. I know the guy that designed it and built it, the mechanic that put the engine in it and the guy that paid for it !! and the guy that sold it to the US and the guy that owned for years. The car is built on a crashed VW beetle, Waibel made a good looking body on it, very nicely done. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH PORSCHE, NEVER DID NEVER WILL HAVE. Yes, it did have a used 356 engine installed, but that’s about all. This unique car was misrepresented for years, including well known “Museums” I told them so, but they did not bother to change the description, hopping to find a new sucker to pay a fortune. Sad.

    Marco Marinello of Zuerich Switzerland Posted at 07 January 2010 7:30am

    [T]his car has been for sale for years… and the Porsche Factory has not snapped it up for their museum… nor have the enthusiastic curators at the Prototype museum… nor any other museum for that matter… I would imagine that we can presume that the Waibel isn’t a Porsche. Each of the various brands deserves it’s place in history… Hebmuller, Dannenhauer and Stauss, Rometsch, Denzel, Drews, Stoll, Wendler, Beutler, Enzmann, Waibel etc… each of these little companies made contributions… some even made a few real Porsches. But I must say… that if Porsche doesn’t think it is a Porsche… and if none of the Museums want it… then I am going to step out on a limb and say…this car is a Waibel… a cool little car… but not actually a Porsche. Well the answer is that it wasn’t called a Porsche… because it was called a Waibel. Long live the Waibel! A really cool looking car with a fascinating history and interesting provenance. I hope somebody buys it… calls it what it is… and ends all this. I would buy it if I had unlimited funds… I really like the way it looks. Kinda looks like a toaster actually…

    Eric Posted at 03 January 2010 8:35pm

  2. The Waibel is not a Porsche. It is a coach built VW, in the late 40’s threw the early sixties their were many coach builders who built their own cars using VW pans and suspensions. Many offered the ability to install a Porsche motor instead of a VW for a performance gain. There is some confusion about some of these cars because the coach builders also built bodies for Porsche such as Wendler, Beutler and Karman.

  3. I would guess historic Porsche.

    I just don’t like the rear wheel skirts. Ugly….

  4. Gregg Elliott says

    My first concern is the lack of the traditional headlights on the car. To me it looks like someone did a little customizing to get a unique look. I’m not a betting man but if I was, I would go with fake.

  5. I agree Jeff – that rear wheel skirt is horrible. It would have been a lot better off without one at all, like in the front.

  6. Fake for sure. the suicide doors give it away as do all the little style cues which look American hot rodish. Porsche built his cars practical and functional.

  7. oh i didn’t read that – Hans Waibel built it. so it is an orignal car (but not an original porsche) just like Ruf’s cars are considered his own. I would be surprised if this sold for over 50K.