Elder Statesman: Barn Find Porsche 901 911

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

This is simply a phenomenal story that is difficult to tell in such a short space. I’ll try my best to summarize: the first production run of Porsche’s classic 911 are referred to as 901 cars, and Porsche lacked such an example in its fabulous museum. It embarked to find such a car and it did – sitting in forlorn condition in a German barn. Now, it’s been restored for the museum collection and there’s an excellent timeline and photos here on Road & Track’s website.

The lengths to which Porsche went to restore this missing piece of its history is simply mind-blowing. To see a company place such a value on its past is what keeps the flocks of Porsche faithful growing, and the desire to preserve a car that it hadn’t yet found (imagine that, Porsche couldn’t find one!) shows the steep efforts to which the company will go for one of its own. Porsche built just 235 911s in 1964, the first 82 of which were designated as 901s.

The company negotiated with the owner of this early 911 and another project in his collection. Porsche paid $125,000 for this car, which had been in the second owner’s possession for many years after it became too small to transport his growing family. The front wings were missing, the engine was seized and the interior was practically fragments of dust and cloth. But the chassis plate that identified this car as one of the elusive 901s was pristine.

This post does not do the full story justice, so take a look at the link above to see the lengths to which Porsche went to restore this historic find. My favorite detail is how they preserved the “Berlin police sports association” sticker in the front windshield, which the prior owner said allowed him to park practically anywhere without fear of getting a ticket. What a beautiful specimen – and one that will hopefully be accessible to the viewing public for many, many years in Porsche’s museum.

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Comments

  1. Luke Fitzgerald

    Demented




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    • Danton J A Cardoso

      ??




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  2. Robert G Thomas

    And the fact is now that they did this incredible restoration, the company now offers this restoration service for anybody’s Porsche. No doubt at astronomical rates.




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  3. 86 Vette Convertible

    Beautiful looking car!




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  4. jw454

    I like the work that was done. It looks like it should in my opinion. Forget all this “Patina” crap. However, why, after all that work, was an old looking ignition coil used? I’m not picking on the car, it just looked odd considering the rest of the work that was done.




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    • KEN TILLY

      Coil looks definitely very secondhand as do a couple of other fittings close by. Also there doesn’t even appear to be an HT lead coming from the coil.




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  5. sir mike

    They had to find another one because the one they wanted to purchase is in PA.and the owner does not want to part with it.And it is perfect and has been invited to various shows across the country.




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  6. Derek F

    The Petersen Museum in Los Angeles also owns a red 901 I spied there during one of their pre-renovation vault tours in 2014 or so.




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    • Dallas

      I saw the same car in 2015, after the renovation and it is still in the vault. If anyone makes the trek to the Petersen the vault tour is well worth the extra charge. The vault material would surpass most other museums display cars that not only had the 901 but also Preston Tuckers’ Tucker.




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  7. Richard Ochoa

    Put it back in the barn!




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  8. Dolphin Dolphin Member

    I’m surprised that Porsche AG couldn’t find a 901 for their museum before finding this needs-everything car. There were 901s around, and with the deep pockets that VW Group has, and the reverence that so many Porsche fans have for the marque, it’s hard to believe that nobody offered up their 901 for the museum—for a price….a very handsome price.

    Any P-car fans out there know?




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    • DG

      I’m surprised the owner let it go to Porsche for only $125K. If it was found in the U.S. I’m sure the pricetag would be around a half million.




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    • Nova Scotian

      I think that’s the point(s)….for one, it’s a showcase of the craftmanship it would take to rebuild. And two, this car would NEVER have gotten rebuilt if Porsche did not do it…who the hell would?
      Impressive the transformation. Indeed.




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  9. UK Paul

    I remember 901’s for sale and not that long ago.
    Nice and interesting story!




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    • UK Paul

      Maybe a false memory … they are rare but seem to remember in my youth the 901 / Peugeot story coming up,when i was flicking through classifieds in the 80’s




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      • Dallas

        From the curator at the Petersen. Peugeot had a “copyright ” on the numbering system for the “0” middle digit in auto nomenclature. Porsche apparently conceded at we used the “1” as the middle digit for naming their subsequent cars.




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  10. OA5599

    I never get tired of looking at the simplicity and clean lines of the 1964 -1968 SWB 911/912.

    They got it right.




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    • MrBZ

      Most beautiful car ever made, IMO.




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    • Mountainwoodie

      I agree, Just the the most beautiful lines. I will be eternally sorry that I had to sell my ’70 911…it was fun just to look at it in my garage much less drive it. As for this P car, without the original drivetrain you dont have the “original” car much less the restoration or should I say the “recreation” of the 901. That said, just having the resources to do what Porsche AG did saved an early Porsche body and for that I am grateful , picking nits aside 🙂




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  11. Christopher Washburn

    Why is it not a 3 gauge instrument panel it looks like a later 911 to me but still a swb




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  12. George

    Somebody correct me if I’m wrong but I thought the earliest cars only had a 3 gauge cluster




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    • Simon

      That was early 912 only.




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  13. Mr. Bond

    I wonder if they bothered to rebuild the drivetrain. It’s not like it will ever get driven.




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    • z1rider

      You might want to click the link to R&T webpage. It will answer your question about the engine.




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  14. z1rider

    That was interesting, yet a bit frustrating also. While many of the captions made reference to the pic they were included with many didn’t. That made for confusion as to whether the caption was specific to the picture or not and could give the wrong impression. For example, a comment below a picture of the bare body shell, looking totally ready for paint, spoke about grinding marks and seemed to suggest all the marks showing in the picture were revealed after stripping and were made at the time of manufacture in 1964. No doubt some grinding marks would have dated from that time, but looking at the car in the as found condition shows a lot of bondo and related rust through. Other captions do explain that a donor shell supplied a lot of replacement sheet metal, but that photo of the bare shell could be misconstrued to suggest there was no rust through of exterior panels. Just my 2 cents.

    Otherwise very impressive. I am unclear on one question though. Of the remaining 901’s, is the one featured THE oldest? I think I have heard of one RHD 901 in England but I may be off on that.




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  15. Del

    Wish I could get excited about German cars or even German sports cars.

    I must be missing that gene ?




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    • UK Paul

      I can’t think of many better sports cars than German ones.
      Maybe Italian (Ferrari’s and Lambos) but they are good in a different way. (Beautifully designed and have a cache you don’t have in other cars)
      Jaguars perhaps in some ways but mainly cosmetic. Certainly not reliable.
      F Type is a nice car. Other gorgeous British cars … Aston Martins, some Healeys and AC’s.
      There isn’t too much else to pick?
      Muscle cars on the other hand …




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    • Del

      The Mengele Gene ?

      Hahaha

      Most of you won’t get it




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    • Del

      The Mengele gene.

      Haha.

      Most of you will not get it




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      • Mountainwoodie

        Josef would appreciate your cruel sense of humor!




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  16. George

    Thanks Simon. I had an early 912 and heard the question asked a lot.




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  17. David Miraglia

    911 forever.




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  18. Jay Hyman

    djh
    Now that I am old, I think that this (the 901) is a wonderful story. I owned a 1959 , 356 Cabroliet (top of line $3,900), a 1964 (356 Cabroliet $4,400), a 1971 (911 used), and then a 1979 (930 Turbo) too expensive to keep. I never got lin one that I did not say “Damn this is fun to drive”. . Wish I had kept one of the first two.
    jay hyman




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  19. Pete

    I am glad Porsche went to all that trouble to preserve one of their original cars. I believe it was number 57 off the production line. That thing is a piece of company history. MB has been doing this for many years. You could essentially bring in an old data plate and they will build you a brand new car around it by hand. You will pay dearly for that though.




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