Watch Chris Harris drive Porsche’s 1939 Type 64
You don’t have to be a Porsche aficionado to feel the wonder Chris Harris has when he lifts the engine cover from the 80-year-old, sea-green beauty of a… well, sort of a Porsche.
The Type 64 was built before the Porsche company was formed and used contemporary Volkswagen componentry—“but is still recognizably a Porsche,” Harris says. The mechanics may be Volkswagen, but the chassis is different enough from the Type 1 Beetle to convince him it’s not a VW.
“This is where the thinking began.” Harris taps his head, one hand on the slim wheel of the Type 64. “The beginning of a car company is when it started in the head of the founder, surely.” Harris doesn’t spend much of his time arguing in this 12-minute, 40-second video.
Before he squeezes behind the wide-diameter wheel and eases the rolling-wheel accelerator pedal forward, Harris just marvels at the Type 64.
Turning over the shell-shaped engine cover reveals sea-green paint peeling back to uncover the the original black. “This isn’t an over-restored classic,” Harris says. “This is a proper piece of history.”
He stares at the Type 64’s 32-hp, 1-liter flat-four in admiration. “That… is why your 911 looks the way it does.”
You have never seen someone use a flathead screwdriver this carefully. Behind the aquamarine, covered wheel panels hide teal wheels wrapped in skinny tires. The body’s bound to the chassis, which is made with contemporary Hungarian aerospace technology, with 2000 rivets.
Compared to other cars of its time, unusual attention was paid to sealing the chrome trim in the most aerodynamic way possible. Inside, the finish on the seats is frayed.
“Just think who sat in this car,” Harris wonders. “Ferry Porsche… This is like finding an old safe in America and you crack it open and there’s a little book that says, ‘This is the recipe for Coca-Cola.’”
Harris describes the wonder of this Porsche with obvious excitement. Both his occasional silences and his smile speak volumes. And before we end here—can we give some kudos to the video team? This car looks gorgeous on the move. The discolored, braided handles slung across the canvas-covered doors; the single pipette of an exhaust; the slightly askew chrome characters of P-O-R-S-C-H-E. From the wiring tucked underneath the dash to the scratches on the swell of the windshield, the camera catches the details that evoke the Type 64’s awe-inspiring history.
Get as close to this piece of history as you can—it goes up for auction this August at RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction. In the meantime, feast your eyes on the video.