Porsche Prototype: The Missing Link Between the 356 and 912

1965 Porsche 356B/912 coupe

In recent years, the prices for classic Porsches have been steadily rising especially for the ones that have a special feature, historic significance, or owned by a celebrity. The next Monterey Auctions by Mecum will feature a very rare Porsche with an interesting history as it is considered to be the “missing link” between original Porsche 356 model that became the foundation of Porsche and the following Porsche 912 which is a 4-cylinder model of the popular 911.

This factory registered 1965 Porsche 356B/912 coupe prototype is 1 out of 6 prototypes that were made to test Porsche’s plan to build a cheaper version of the 911. The 911 was released in 1963 that had a very successful design but was not wholeheartedly welcomed because it was very expensive. The concept for the 912 was to create a sports car that featured the style of the 6-cylinder 911 but with the heart of the popular 356.

Only six prototypes were created that featured the same body of the 911 and had a 4-cylinder drivetrain that replaced the flat-6 engine of the 911. The plan was very successful and the Porsche 912 was soon released to the public which was displayed together with the 911. The year that the 912 was released was also the last year of the Porsche 356.

1965 Porsche engine

The prototype Porsche 356/912 that will be featured in the Mecum auction with serial No. 13415 is one of the last 2 remaining prototypes. Because of its historic value, Mecum has given a high estimate of its value which is from $950,000 to $1.2 million.

According to Mecum, this prototype was discovered by accident. The owner bought it as a parts donor but he got confused when he saw that it only had a 5-digit serial number similar to the 356 instead of a 6-digit serial number of the 911 or 912.

According to the Mecum catalog:

“After receiving documentation from Porsche archives, the Certificate of Authenticity clearly identifies the model year/type of this car as being a 1965 356B/912 coupe prototype. Another stroke of good fortune was that the car still had its original numbers-matching engine.”

“Fully aware of the pivotal role this car played in the history of the Porsche 912, the process of disassembly and restoration adhered to a strict protocol with each piece being carefully examined and cataloged.”

“After fulfilling its intended purpose of being a test mule and presentation vehicle, the factory sold the car on August 25, 1966, to a new owner in Stuttgart, Germany.”

Another proof of its identity is the cloisonné badge found on the rear engine grille which says, “1st U.S. Porsche Dealer Tour – Stuttgart – 19-22 July 1965.”

1965 Porsche dashboard

Hans Peter Porsche, who was the Porsche production head in 1956, examined the prototype at the 2014 Porsche Parade held in Monterey, California and positively identified it after it was restored in 2014. He remembers seeing the prototype being built in the factory.

The Porsche 356/912 is several differences from the standard 912 which include the engine that is more similar to the engines used in the 1964 Porsche 356SC models. It also features a 4-speed transmission which is similar to the 5-speed gearboxes used in the 911. The front suspension shock towers are filled different supports plates and mounts. Aluminum door hinges are used instead of the steel door hinges of the 912. The dash is finished with the same body paint instead of the aluminum applique used in the standard 912.

The Porsche 356/912 has been professionally restored to its last detail due to its historic value. The same techniques and materials were used to restore the historic prototype.

“This comprehensive restoration was acknowledged at the 2014 Porsche Parade Concours, where it was bestowed with the Zuffenhausen Award scoring 297.4 points out of a 300-point maximum,” as said on the Mecum catalog.

This Porsche 356/912 will be on the final day of the 3 day Mecum auction which will be on August 20, 2016. The auction will be held at the Del Monte Golf Course in Monterey, California.

1965 Porsche

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