Trade School Project: VW Porsche Kaiserslautern Coupe

 

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How do you place a value on a car made as a one-off by a shop class? I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that question but it’s certainly the one on my mind when trying to assign the worth of a car like this VW-Porsche “Kaiserslautern” coupe. Riding on a Karmann Ghia chassis with Porsche running gear, this custom build certainly has some pedigree, but what that pedigree is worth will require some soul-searching by the next caretaker. The Kaiserslautern is listed here on Dylan-Miles.com, a UK dealership website, for GBP 64,995.

As I’ve mentioned before, I currently live in the Ocean State – Rhode Island – and this custom creation actually wears old-school RI plates of the vanity sort, with the inscription “BE 356” which is surely worth a decent price all on its own. The fact that this highly unusual VW-Porsche creation once resided locally is more than a little surprising to me, considering that any car from this era and of European or Japanese descent has rusted to bits by now, especially if it was in a state of abandonment when it was found. The custom coupe comes with the Porsche engine mounted in the rear and what looks like original 356 taillights. It certainly does have bodywork needs but nothing I’d consider terminal.

The car was assembled by students in the Mesiterschule Fur Handwerken program based in Kaiserslautern, Germany. They built a total of four cars, presumably all with heavy influences from Porsche and Volkswagen. When you consider the ingenuity on display and the likely limited resources the students had, it’s amazing they built anything resembling an actual car, let alone one with Porsche running gear. The trouble for the next owner will be determining what is a truly one-off feature versus what is a shared component that can be raided from the Volkswagen or Porsche parts bin. The interior is complete but obviously in need of full restoration.

In addition to the 356 engine, the VW also came equipped with brakes and wheels from the Porsche parts bin. The bodywork is steel but is accented by an aluminum hood and trunk (boot) lid. The car has bounced around between overseas destinations and the U.S. but is currently living in the village of Kent in the U.K. It’s an interesting conversation piece for the Porsche or VW collector who has one of everything; however, I still struggle with whether you can justify the asking price for a car that defies every pricing guide convention.

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Comments

  1. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

    This car is well-known around the vintage VW people. The car’s bare body shell started out as a Karmann-Ghia, that a respected German automotive metalworking school then modified into the shape you see here, by removing most of the outer body panels and creating a replacement outer shell, using the original Karmann-built chassis and inner fenders & doors. The car then had the Porsche drive train, suspension and brakes added. All of this was performed when new in 1968.

    The car was “found” by a serious VW collector and enthusiast, the well-known British antique dealer Drew Pritchard, star of the TV series Salvage Hunters.

    While the body design may not be appreciated by everyone, It’s a rare custom body created by a highly regarded group, and pre-dates the later Porsche T5 notchback coupe, and it’s been mentioned this car may have been the inspiration behind the T5 Porsche coupe.

    When I had my restoration shop a long time ago, I was fortunate to have a graduate of the Meisterschule fur Handwerker, Herr Ebb Burre, working with us, and his metalworking abilities were amazing.

    While I don’t have any evidence to back up my guess [and it’s just an educated guess], I suspect Karmann may have donated the bare Karmann-Ghia body shell to the school, perhaps it was an extra body made for structural testing, or a body shell that had some damage to the outer panels that would have relegated it to the scrap pile, the school used the basic platform to “get creative” & build what we see today: A Porsche 356 with a Karmann chassis, sporting a coachbuilt outer body.

    Hopefully this will find a new owner with the abilities [and/or finances] to bring the car back to what it was in 1958.

    This was sold on BaT in 2019, here is the link to see more photos and info:

    https://bringatrailer.com/2019/12/27/one-off-coachbuilt-coupe-1958-vw-porsche-kaiserslautern/

    Like 25
    • bobhess bobhessMember

      Bill, I bet there aren’t many people that know as much as you do about this car. Thanks for putting it out there for us. Quite a story.

      Like 15
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

        bobhess,

        The primary reason I’m familiar with this car is because I’m also a former dealer in antiques who used to import items from England, and have closely followed fellow antiques dealer Drew Pritchard who owned the car.

        Like 6
      • bobhess bobhessMember

        What do you think about the asking price Bill?

        Like 2
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

        Bob,

        What’s this one-off vehicle worth?

        There are so many variables involved right now that need to be answered. As I just asked Randy [who used to own it], how was the car titled in 1958? As a VW, a Porsche, or some other VIN?.

        From what Randy indicates, it was all VW mechanicals when new, and if it’s got a VW based chassis & VIN, I think it’s way over priced. If it’s had a Porsche title from 1958 [and that claim can be verified], it might be within the value ballpark because of it’s history.

        And let’s not forget this car MAY have been part of the reason Porsche came out with a similar notch-back coupe not long after this one was built. If internal Porsche records could be found to suggest this car WAS part of the decision to make the Porsche version, or perhaps the car was a design study commissioned by Stuttgart, and the task given to the school. If so, then it could be priced quite reasonably! [But yeah, that’s probably not what happened!]

        While we know who built it, it does not appear to have been a ‘show car’ when new, just a worthy project for a group of very talented metal workers who failed to use the services of a talented designer, and that lack of a coherent overall design, in my opinion, hurts it’s value a bit.

        While I’ve never met Drew Pritchard in person, I’ve seen all of the Salvage Hunters shows and read his interesting book; A man and a van. I also spent years scouring the English countryside looking for vintage stuff to bring back to the USA, and I am sure he knows exactly what he’s doing 99% of the time.

        Drew comes across as someone who wants his vehicles to be in original condition back to day 1, and after researching it’s history and perhaps deciding it’s a Karmann-Ghia turned into a Porsche, he declined to spend the money on it’s restoration. Just a guess on my part.

        So that’s my 10 cents [inflation you know!]

        Like 4
  2. Fahrvergnugen FahrvergnugenMember

    Never seen THIS one at C&C at Fort Adams. Maybe I’m on the wrong end of the island…

    Like 1
  3. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

    Correction to the above message:

    A slip of the finger [or keyboard letters are jumping around again] resulted in the incorrect build date of 1968, when it should have been 1958.

    Like 5
  4. losgatos_dale

    If this car was worth re-doing it would have been re-done by now.

    Like 4
  5. LotusS777

    For many cars, the time of re-doing them may not yet be, may have even passed by, or may never come. I know someone regularly selling early Datsun Zs for about $100k, obviously something no one would have expected even just a few years ago. I would suspect there could be an audience for this given the expected prices for a VW bus these days.

    Like 1
  6. Randy Carlson

    Just a quick explanation on the Rhode Island license plate. I screwed that on the car myself here in California. This car has never been in that state.

    And to Bill’s info on history…a couple incorrect details. The car was not originally built with the Porsche parts and the doors were not modified Ghia doors. The school really crafted damn near the whole thing. Impressive work too, Ive been over every square inch of the thing.

    Im a bit bummed that Drew is not restoring it. It really deserves a concours level resto. I do understand that he has higher priorities though…hopefully the next caretaker will take it across the finish line.

    Like 3
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

      Randy,

      Thanks for the clarification. So does this mean it was all VW driveline and suspension/steering back in 1958? If so, that suggests the car was “updated” to a Porsche at a later date. Do you know if it has a Porsche VIN and title, or Karmann-Ghia Vin & title? [Or perhaps a German state issued VIN?]

      Having retired from the antiques business because much of the antique buying crowd has stopped buying, and the younger crowd never started buying, I suspect Drew’s business has suffered a downturn like so many others.

      Like 4
    • Artyparty

      He’s an old dealer boy, never known to buy anything that he couldn’t turn a buck on. He also has questionable morals which can be found quite easily on the internet. I’m glad his wife stuck it to him! If you’ve see the TV show he’s in you’ll know that his idea of “restored” bares little resemblance to what most people in this community think it means!

      Like 0
  7. CarbuzzardMember

    If you look at this from a strictly monetary basis, doing anything with it might not—probably isn’t, yet—worthwhile.

    However, if you’re a car enthusiast, particularly of the W/Porsche stripe, this could be a ton of fun, and well restored, be a hit at your local C&C and even earn an invitation to a concours specialty class.

    So investor or enthusiast, you make the call. Neither is wrong, just different.

    Like 2
  8. Jack Quantrill

    This is a “Frankenmobile”! Dubble ugly!

    Like 0
  9. Pat Gill

    Kent is a county not a village in the UK, Drew lives in Wales, a country not county, part of the UK but not England, hope that clears that up!

    Like 4
  10. Jon Loring

    So a VW with porsche engine and brake sinstalled somewhere down the line…uh my money be on something else as even restored still gonna be an ugly vehicle and what i read, no real providence to back up anything…yeah it may have been assembled by very compentent body and metal folks but bottom line a slightly interesting car for crazy $$$

    Like 0
  11. Artyparty

    Just FYI, Kent is the South Eastern-most county in the UK, the one nearest France, not a village. Known as “the garden of England”, full of orchards and where all the beer hops were traditionally grown. In the UK, we are obviously a lot smaller than the US, so our Counties are rather like your States. Each has a County Town, or City and a County Council that looks after Social Welfare, Roads, Library Services, etc.

    Like 0
  12. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

    Jon,

    As to providence, this car has been on multiple websites and it’s history is well known all the way back to when it was built. There were numerous photographs published during the time the body was crafted at the school. What is not known is when the Porsche change occurred.

    I’ve seen cars with far worse designs ultimately restored once the history of the car was determined. Right now the price may well be overboard, but eventually the history will be determined, and then people interested in the car can make educated offers.

    Like 0

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