Lake Lucerne Discovery: 1954 Porsche 356 Pre-A

Every few months, a quick search for things like “cars underwater” can yield some pretty fascinating material. Most of the time, it’s just about a town dredging a local waterway, but every now and again, some solid gold appears in the form of an incredible discovery in a lake or riverbed. This time, it’s a 1954 Porsche 356, otherwise known as being one of the elusive early models referred to as a Pre A coupe. Found in Lake Lucerne in Switzerland, very little has been said about the rare 356 since its extraction. Find coverage of the discovery here on the Porsche Club of Great Britain website.

The Porsche was discovered by a scuba diving team practicing in the lake approximately 10 meters from the shore. What makes less sense is how it got there, as the part of the lake where the car was found has no accessible roads or other means of entry by car. The interior, engine, gearbox, and license plates were no where to be found, making it seem likely that this poor 356 was dumped as a stolen vehicle. Or, was it a parts car for a 356 that an owner deemed more desirable than what was simply a cheap, used sports car at the time?

Who knows, and the lack of follow-up on the story suggests no one really knows what happened to this car before or after its discovery. The beehive taillight lenses are obviously gone, and while the engine lid is askew, at least it’s still there. There’s no glass yet and the roof has buckled a bit, but it could have been so much worse considering how long this car was likely underwater. Amazingly, the front and rear bumpers were still with the car.

While the recovery team undoubtedly took every precaution when removing the fragile specimen, it’s difficult to preserve the areas that were already weak, like the driver’s side fender. Compared to the photos underwater, that area definitely got tweaked a bit further than it already was. So, now the question becomes, where is this car? What happened after it was recovered? It’s shocking to not see any reference to the Lake Lucerne 356 and its subsequent revival; have any of you seen an update on this car?

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  1. Moparman Member

    O.K. Who was the U-boat commander that sank this one, LOL?? :-)

    Like 38
    • Matt G

      Sometimes Joel, you just gotta say what the heck…

      Like 19
    • toly arutunoff

      it belonged to the guy who was tracking down the billions in gold the nazis put in lake constant

      Like 7
  2. Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member

    For UK Porschephiles – is the storage space on this called Das Boot?

    Like 34
    • Derek

      Das Boot was phenomenal. My pal’s dad – conscripted Sudeten Czech – couldn’t watch it; he’d spent the war in U-boats – and had an Iron Cross, presumably for surviving. The film less so, but the TV episode of the boat being depth-charged (30 minutes) is an exercise in tension.

      Like 9
      • William

        People who really have seen combat, do not watch war films, at least not in my experience. It is not entertainment for “them”. Ideally, people who do watch them will understand the horror of it all and demand that it never happens again, but that never, if ever, happens. Our society has a lot of growing up to do.

        Like 36
      • DikMik

        Submariners in the UK navy had the highest casualty rate of all the armed services during WWII. Respect.

        Like 9
      • Steve Feld Member

        The one line from Das Boot that I try working in when I am able is when the US Navy diesel mechanic set about getting the engine room of the German submarine running again and fast. He told his CO “The last guy who worked on this didn’t know a spanner wrench from his sister’s…”. Brilliant assessment.

        Another is from MASH: “Colonel go for laugh – no get..”. Ha ha.

        Like 4
  3. alphasud Member

    Ridden hard and put away wet! Would make great yard art for a Porsche aficionado.

    Like 18
    • sir_mike

      Thanks for the link Lou

      Like 2
  4. Robert Rob Member

    Sitting beside a road. Can’t see in summer time.

    Like 7
    • Richard Sparks

      Dare I ask where this beauty is located?

      Like 2
      • Steve Clinton

        Under a tree.

        Like 24
      • Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member

        In Germany. Unter der Linden…

        Like 3
    • Eric B

      WHAAAAAT? If you haven’t tried to save it, why? Let me guess, the owner says they’ll get around to it someday.

      Like 2
  5. Steve R

    Interesting find, thanks for doing a feature on it. After stabilization I think it will wind up hanging from a ceiling or wall in its current state as a conversation piece. Maybe at a restaurant, restoration supplier or Porsche enthusiasts shop. It’s perfect for that.

    Steve R

    Like 5
    • local_sheriff

      Don’t be surprised if it drives again one day…

      This one isn’t there (yet) as it’s almost 400ft below however when the access to early Beetles dries up someone will take a dip

      Like 4
      • paul oberman

        when i see this, i get ptsd from the 23 window i had stolen in 1989. never saw it again

        Like 1
    • Steve Clinton

      “hanging from a ceiling…at a restaurant”
      Waiter, there’s a barnacle in my soup!

      Like 5
      • scott m

        Can barnacles even do the backstroke?

        Like 2
  6. Daniel Floyd

    In Texas people sink old cars in lakes for catfish to live and breed in. You take the engine and all that out. Then you always know where to fish. Catfish like to make homes in stuff like that.

    Like 12
    • scott m

      Future car collectors… any good fishing spots around here?

      Like 3
  7. Cod Bass Home

    Hey thats my home. I went to a local school upstream and found this rust bucket for me and this misses and home squatted the appropriate time to get it. Its a shame humans intervening in our cod life.

    I hope the new owners appreciate the upkeep performed bu us. Items updated:
    Pool in front trunk
    Pool on engine area
    Pool in interior section.
    Rock garden in floor
    Cleaned skeleton in trunk

    Enjoy this domicile 👍

    Like 9
  8. Ike Onick

    Already on the GullibleWing website listed at $6,000,000.

    Like 21
    • Steve Clinton

      Only worth that if Adolph’s body is inside.

      Like 4
      • William

        Nah, Addie is in Argentina winking at pretty girls from his wheel chair. He is a very spry 140 year old. He is too senile to remember what a turd he is, though.

        Like 13
  9. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    Cool write-up and story. You just know some dinkus with more money than brains will probably pay multiple 6 figures for this rusted out lake find.

    Like 9
    • Mike

      Gotta save’em all!

      Like 4
  10. GPAK

    Wet-look patina finish is already done,
    so throw on some beehive rear lenses
    and a couple of other bits and pieces,
    Then drive it as it is !

    Like 6
  11. Steve Clinton

    OK, since no one has said it, allow me…
    This Porsche is already underwater before you sink a dime on it! (Pun intended.)

    Like 21
    • Ike Onick

      I don’t think that comment holds any water.

      Like 13
      • Steve Clinton

        For the restorer who’s wet behind the ears.

        Let’s see how many puns this article receives. (I’ve lost count already!)

        Like 6
  12. JMB#7

    Yet this is not referred to as the “Porsche Bathtub”???

    Like 13
  13. scott m

    The Bugatti in the Lake! Maybe I’ll take flak for this, but if somebody with oodles of money can take this on, then I’m ok with that. It won’t be me, but their pocket change will go to restoration professionals and other worthies that support the hobby. Do I wish this was still do-able by a shade tree mechanic? Absolutely. If I was a billionaire or multi millionaire and did it for fun, took a massive loss and returned it to the wild just for the hell of it? Priceless

    Like 3
  14. EPO3

    I wonder if the new owner says that it was found in a lake. Most likely the ad will read minimal rust survivor.

    Like 3
  15. Ike Onick

    Did anyone notice the fisheyes in the paint?

    Like 14
  16. angliagt angliagt Member

    “In climate controlled storage for the last XXX years”

    Like 9
  17. ClassicCarFan

    I don’t trust them rear-engined cars, always fish-tailing in the wet…

    Like 10
  18. Superdessucke

    Undercarriage and engine pics?

    Like 7
  19. Snafuracer

    Early water cooled.

    Like 14
  20. Pat Marriott

    Did anyone else catch “Das Boot”? Good (i.e. baadd) pun!

    Like 1
  21. Richard Isenberg

    Great mother in law car. She will love it.

    Like 1
  22. John

    Heretofore, I thought these were all air-cooled. See how educational these finds. Can be.

  23. ChingaTrailer

    Is this the same Swiss lake thata Bugatti was fished out of a few years ago?

  24. Bob Maj

    Owner claims it ran when parked.

    Like 6
    • Russell

      You mean ran when sunk!

      Like 4
  25. Bellingham Fred

    It cost more to fish it out than what it is worth.
    Your underwater with this one before you even get started.
    You would find yourself drowning in debt.
    If you do decide to restore this you should opt for the herringbone upholstery .
    Keep searching for the underwater cars you may find a Marlin, a Barracuda, or a Stingray.
    If you look in Biscayne Bay you might find a base model Chevy.
    OK, I’ll stop now.

    Like 10
  26. Comet

    I know this sounds crazy, but I remember reading about a cobra (in worse condition then this) was dredged up while digging a canal. A TOTAL restoration resulted in incredible results. I can’t imagine how many cubic dollars were spent bringing it back.

    Like 2
  27. Fran

    “Tan when parked”

  28. Goatsnvairs

    Submerge a barn around it.

    Like 4
  29. William Cockayne Member

    Was at a cool million, but the price is sinking fast. Better clam up while the owner is fishing for offers!

    Like 4
  30. Chuck Foster Chuck Foster

    You’d have to be a wealthy land shark to tackle this project.

    Like 1
  31. Chuck Foster Chuck Foster

    You’d have to be a wealthy land shark to tackle this hole in the water.

    Like 1
  32. Big Z

    “May have some flood damage.”

    Like 1
  33. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    With the engine, gearbox, interior, tires, bonet, doors and licence plates missing I say it was stolen. No roads around so in my best criminal mind I say strip it, roll it onto Sven and Ole’s boat and go for a cruise. Pull wheels and push her overboard. Not sure if these have numbers on the frame. The President of the Porsche 356 Club of Switzerland assisted with the salvage operation. And so far he is not talking. And thanks for all the humor gang!

    Like 2
  34. Richard Sparks

    I’m fully immersed in the depths of Chuck’s wit and have a sinking feeling he’s knot finished yet.

    Like 2
  35. Phil Ethier


    My father and his First-Shot shipmates always said that the only Pearl-Harbor-attack movie to watch was “Tora, Tora, Tora”. No film was in second place.

    Like 4
  36. glen kay

    can you say insurance

  37. GregA

    Carefully preserved in a low oxygen environment.No sun fading present.

  38. Mark-A

    Probably not the first time someone has ended up underwater with a P car??

  39. James

    Car has a very distinctive white stripe down the center of the red car. I wonder if someone will be able to ID it.

    Like 1
  40. Phil

    Chop-shop sounds reasonable.

    In that part of Europe, I assume the lake freezes, Maybe the crooks towed it out there with their 4×4 and left it to drop in with the thaw. It’s a big lake, and maybe that part of it is isolated enough that it does not get any ice-fisher or snowmobile traffic.

    Park it and cover it with snow from the snowblower you brought with you, then just drive away. Come spring, it sinks.

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