RM Sotheby's auction unique Porsche 901 Cabriolet prototype

ER Classics Desktop 2022

On February 8, RM Sotheby's brings a unique Porsche 901 from 1964 under the hammer. As part of the Paris Retromobile event, RM Sotheby's is offering the prototype of the Porsche 901 Cabriolet at the Place Vauban auction in Paris. The Karmann design is special, since it did not actually lead to production until twenty years later. In addition, it is one of the few Porsche models with the designation 901.

Financial pressure, no production version

In the first half of the sixties, Porsche searched for a successor to the successful 356, which also had an open version. The Porsche 901, which was soon renamed 911 for legal reasons, was in full development and these efforts led to the arrival of the 911 in 1963. In the meantime, Porsche - in collaboration with Karmann from Osnabrück - worked on an open version. It resulted in the prototype that is now being offered in Paris. The Porsche management decided not to take the beautiful convertible into production for commercial reasons. The risk was considered too great. Due to the collapsing 356 sales, Porsche was under financial pressure and it set its sights on launching the Porsche 901, which came on the market as 911.


Conflictingly enough, the sales department - especially in the United States - noticed an increasing demand for open sports cars. It resulted in a return of the Porsche 901 to the drawing tables. The designers proceeded energetically, and within a few months a Porsche 901 - with chassis number 13360 - was shipped to Karmann. The convertible designed there returned to Porsche. Intensive testing led to the final decision not to take the open Porsche into series production. It did, however, lead to further development: the arrival of the Targa, which met the safety requirements in force in the United States.

Oldest non-restored Porsche 901

The convertible offered in Paris is the oldest unrestored Porsche 901. The unique Karmann copy is in original condition and has the necessary patina. This is particularly visible within the interior. Furthermore, the 901 has a fully documented history and was not previously offered for sale. Number 13360 was shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

Three owners

The Porsche had a number of owners in its existence. Manfred Freisinger from Karlsruhe, a Porsche collector, saved the prototype from ruin. After many years he sold the Porsche to the American Myron Vernis, who overhauled the original 1.991 cc engine and also brought the other mechanics into operational condition. For the rest, he left the Porsche in its original prototype state. But Vernis did use the Porsche for rides, and made the unique Karmann prototype part of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2013.

Expected yield between eight and a half tons and a million

After this, the prototype passed into British hands, and now the special Porsche is offered in Paris. Whoever is in the market for an absolute collector's item would do well to talk to the savings account. It must be a well-filled account. Because the auctioneers expect that this number 13360 - or the Porsche 901 Cabriolet from Karmann - will be sold for an amount between € 850.000 and € 1.000.000.

More information about the RM Sotheby's auction in Paris can be found here.

The copyright of the images rests with RM Sotheby's.


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