Probably because it disappeared for decades.
It’s hard to keep any old Porsche a secret, mainly because of the many collectors out there and the brand’s own prestige and reputation. But this one managed to fall through the cracks and nearly ended up in the dustbin of history. We're talking about the Porsche 911 HLS. The 911 HLS? The hell is that? Put simply, a classic 911 with a fully retractable roof. It all began back in 1964 when this 911 was built, but in 1966 it was selected by Porsche at random as something of an engineering experiment.
Handed off to the engineering department at the University of Aachen in Germany, the goal was turn the car into something of a pure racing coupe, only with a folding roof. Think of the Porsche 904 racing car from that very same time and you’ll understand what those engineers were somewhat inspired by. Specifically look at the 904’s rear engine cover. Now look at the 911 HLS. This, however, was only the start of the redesign. Engineers also fabricated a new body mostly made from aluminum in order to reduce weight. Take notice of the Targa style silver rollover bar. Even the interior was redesigned with a more racing-influenced dashboard.
But without a doubt it’s the hinged canopy cockpit roof that garners the most attention here. Looking at the 911 HLS from any angle it’s kind of hard to see any evidence of the canopy cockpit’s existence once it’s closed. Perhaps the best sign is a lack of conventional door handles. The final step the team took was to paint it bright green with the “HLS” added in black letters. The one and only Porsche 911 with a canopy cockpit was completed. Then it disappeared for 40 years. It received little to no publicity or testing. The 911 HLS was designed and built, and that was that. So what the hell happened and why? More than likely, and this would make total sense, Porsche officials at Zuffenhausen were simply not impressed with the car.
They didn’t even care enough about it to bring it inside. And so it sat, outside, for four decades and nearly rotted. The 911 HLS would still be there today if it weren’t for a guy named Manfred Hering, a 911 expert, who happened to come across it. Someone who must have known of its existence asked Hering about the possibility of having it restored. One problem: the restoration’s budget could only be around 30,000 euros. Hering knew that wouldn’t be possible and turned the job down, but instead he offered to buy it outright. It took three years of negotiations to finalize the sale, but Hering has now taken possession of the car and restoration plans are already well underway.
Despite its absolutely shitty condition, the 911 HLS’s original engine and even a spare one, though dismantled, were included (along with all of the mice that made the engines their home). Even as you’re reading this, the Porsche 911 HLS is being restored with painstaking care and attention. Perhaps one day in the near future it’ll finally receive the recognition it was denied for 40 years. Some photos courtesy of Classicdriver.