Porsche's Volkswagen Brought Back To Life

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80 years since its creation, Ferdinand Porsche's VW Beetle gets full restoration.

Ferdinand Porsche may be best remembered for the company that still bears his name. But as anyone even remotely versed in the history of the automobile could tell you, he was also the father of Volkswagen and the model that launched it, which would later become known as the Beetle.

This was one of the earliest prototypes – the only one of 14 made, fitted with a special engine, and driven by Ferdinand and his son frequently between their headquarters in Zuffenhausen, the factory being built in Wolfsburg, and the capital in Berlin. 80 years later, it's been properly restored.

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Known as VW 39, this Beetle was fitted with a (relatively) higher-powered engine. Originally made for the Berlin-Rome racer, this engine produced all of 32 metric horsepower. But that was enough to propel it to a top speed of 90 miles per hour down the Autobahn highways then being constructed, which wasn't too shabby for its time.

Model 39 was also used to experiment with early machine-stamping bodywork-construction methods and featured a split rear window that (apparently) made it look like a certain type of traditional German knotted baked good, leading it to be called the Pretzel Beetle.

Little is known about what became of VW 39 over the course of the war, but it was recovered in a state of disrepair in 1948 by a collector in Hamburg who put a lot of work into it over the years. Five years ago the same port city's Prototype Museum acquired it and commissioned a complete restoration, recrafting original parts from scratch, and refinishing it from the grey to the same Nitro Black in which it had left Porsche's workshops. If you find yourself in town, you can check it out alongside the other original Mercedes, BMWs, Audis, and other Volkswagens and Porsches.

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