KdF Berlin-Rome race car (Porsche type 64)

The first one© Porsche

In 1935, the first Volkswagen prototypes were ready for testing, internally referred to as Porsche type 60. After a few prototypes, a series of 30 Volkswagen test cars were made by Daimler-Benz AG in 1937. With the Volkswagen nearing its production, the idea of Porsche's own series production sportscar was also born. The plan was to use Volkswagen's mechanicals, but it being the govermental project, the agreement couldn't be settled to use the parts by a private car company. So, Porsche family had to give up the idea of their sportscar using Volkswagen components. The following brainstorm led them to a Porsche F-Wagen (Ferdinand-Wagen) with midmounted watercooled 1.5-litre V10. It was designated as the type 114 and was put on paper down to details. Although Porsche design office was huge, very successful and had a large number of customer projects going on, Porsche's own sports car, and now with 10-cylinder engine, was too much to handle. The idea of the V10 car was sold to KdF (Kraft durch Freude, a state-operated organization of Nazi Germany) and new type number was assigned to the now KdF R-Wagen (Rennwagen, race car). It was internally called as Porsche type 116, but this project didn't materialize neither. In the meantime Volkswagen was getting ready for production and was renamed as KdF-Wagen in 1938. Motorsport was very 'in' at the time and KdF could still use a competition car for the marketing purposes.

In 1936 a coalition called Rome-Berlin Axis had been formed between Germany and Italy and later fixed with the Pact of Steel signed by the nazi Adolf Hitler and fascist Benito Mussolini. It formalized the Rome-Berlin Axis agreement, linking the two countries politically and militarily. Both countries had been very poor and this had helped the leaders to become dictators. As Germany became a bit wealthier, it became the stronger partner and as the time passed, Mussolini had to accept Hitler's wishes more and more.

NSKK (Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrkorps, National Socialist Motor Corps), a paramilitary organization of the German Nazi Party, started to organize the Berlin-Rome road rally to happen on September 27, 1938. Just a week before the start of the rally the so-called Sudeten Crisis escalated. Hitler had set his eyes on the areas of German-speaking Czechoslovakia earlier and already in 1936 Czechoslovakia started to build border fortifications. Officially it was Mussolini who suggested a conference in Munich regarding the issue and on September 29, 1938, Hitler, Daladier (France) and Chamberlain (GB) met and agreed to Mussolini's proposal which was prepared by nazi Hermann Göring. The Munich Agreement was signed, accepting the immediate occupation of the Sudetenland. Because of the Sudeten Crisis, the 1938 Berlin-Rome race did not happen, but as the event was planned as a new tradition, the race was scheduled also for 1939.

For the 1939 race, in September 1938 a project was started to create KdF's Berlin-Rome competition car. It was a car using type 60 KdF-Wagen's mechanicals with design from Porsche 114 project. The KdF Berlin-Rome car was called as type 64. Its body design project number was 60 K10. K10 meant it was the 10th body (Karosserie 10) for the type 60 chassis. The type 64 cars were built using 1938 KdF VW38 chassis and the chassis numbers therefore begun with 38. The side view of the 'on paper only' type 114 and the type 64 was very similar. There were many body version of the 114 and the type 64 got its front look from the narrow cockpit 114. Having the powerless engine, the type 64 had to be as aerodynamic as possible. And the narrow cockpit made it look very cool. These aluminium-bodied cars were designed by Erwin Komenda.

No. 1

The first KdF Berlin-Rome competition car, chassis number 38/41, was finished on August 19, 1939. Thanks to the streamlined body, the small 4-cylinder aircooled 1100 cc flat engine was capable of achieving more than 80 mph/130 km/h average speed on drives between Stuttgart and Berlin. The top speed was 95 mph/153 km/h.

On September 1, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland and the Berlin-Rome road race could not happen again.

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Article © James Herne / Stuttcars.com


Body recreation by Hubert Drescher (2009)

Ordered by Porsche, Karosseriebau Drescher took the job to make a replica body. It took 1.5 years to make it. The body was stamped with 38/42, although it has nothing to do with the original 38/42.

Body replica at the Porsche Musem. The side window design is slightly different from the original.© Porsche
What has become the typical Porsche-shape, can be clearly seen here. The rear lid design of this show piece is slightly different from the original.© James Herne
© James Herne

Recreation by Nostalgicar (2011)

The car was created on order of the Hamburg Prototyp Museum (www.prototyp-hamburg.de) and finished in 2011. Some original 38/42 parts were used.

Replica by Barbach (2014)

It is naturally a huge work to make a car and Michael Barbach's team spent around 7000 man hours in 6 years to make this replica. The car was finished in May 2014. The location of the windscreen wiper, the window frames and rear lamps suggest the car is mimicking car no.1. Barbach's car is registered with number plate BN 2 JWL, but on the events the car is fitted with IIIA 0703, which was the number plate of the first original chassis 38/41.

The wider front fenders and the windscreen angle are the giveaways of the replica© Barbach (www.barbach.at)

There is at least one more replica in the making by a craftsman not listed here above.

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